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5 Steps To Release Shame And Move Forward To Self-Love

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5 Steps To Release Shame And Move Forward To Self-Love

Unravel The Blame, Shame, Guilt Knot
Dr. Christiane Northrup
Dr. Christiane Northrup More by this author
Dec 12, 2016 at 12:15 PM

One of the strongest emotional pieces of our lives that prevents us from bringing heaven to earth is what I refer to as the blame/guilt knot. These two emotions stem from something that is an integral part of our society: shame. In our culture, shame is passed down from generation to generation. 

Shame about one’s social status, body size, age, wardrobe, income level, accent, and background are all common themes. 

There is no way you can live past the age of 12 without having been shamed about something. This tactic is often used as a way to control your behavior and keep you in line. Phrases like “Big boys don’t cry” and “What are you, a pussy?” can lead to self-hatred and self-abuse. 

Boys who have been shamed tend to act out, while girls turn their shame inward, often creating depression, eating disorders, or perfectionism.

The shame we experience generally comes from the people who are meant to protect us. Most of us grew up in tribes that rewarded us only when we followed certain rules of conduct: “All of us Smiths are doctors. We expect you to be one too.” Or “Who do you think you are, Little Miss Perfect? No one goes to college in this family. Do you think you’re better than we are?”

Your tribe keeps you safe as long as you believe what they believe and behave as they behave.

When we are shamed as children, that shame becomes internalized. We end up believing that we are flawed and unworthy of the connection we so desperately seek. Because we so often feel ashamed and unworthy, we have an insatiable need for approval from others, a need to feel like we belong. And it’s very easy to bond with others, not from our strengths and our glory—but instead over the parts of ourselves that have made us feel like victims: our wounds, our illnesses, our weaknesses. Because of this shame, we begin to live in a world filled with blame, anger, and guilt, and living from this place keeps us stranded in disconnection and worthlessness.

To learn more, see my new book, Making Life Easy.

Searching for Meaning

When we have been living a life that inflicts shame on us, we often shut down and disconnect from our Divine selves. Our egos, which were created to protect us from the pain of this disconnection and from the pain of leaving our innate oneness consciousness, take over. They go on a search for meaning in our daily experiences of shame, and one way they do this is to identify with one of three predefined archetypal roles: victim, persecutor, or rescuer. 

1.    Victims are those who take no responsibility, putting the blame for their life circumstances on everyone and everything else: “It’s not my fault I’m overweight; it’s genetic.”
2.    Persecutors take full responsibility, but not in a loving way: “It’s all my fault I’m overweight. I shouldn’t eat so much cake. I’m a slob.” 
3.    Rescuers evade the situation by focusing on helping others with their problems: “Weight? Forget that, I need to focus on this plan to build a school in Africa.” 

While none of these roles addresses problems healthfully, they each provide an excuse to not fix what’s wrong. They give you a place. A purpose. Meaning.

At various times, we have all been in each of these roles. That’s part of being human. But to live heaven on earth you have to step out of them and take the bigger view. Most people can readily relate to the victim or rescuer role. But few of us are willing to step up and admit that sometimes we have been the persecutor.
Running for the victim or rescuer role while assiduously avoiding the persecutor role and denying that you’ve ever hurt anyone or yourself does nothing to help you.
There is absolutely no power to change anything in your life as long as you chronically occupy one of these three positions.

1.    Untying The Knot

The first step of untying the blame/guilt knot is letting go of shame. If you can’t do this, you’ll always move back into those archetypal roles of victim, persecutor, or rescuer, which take away your power to control your own life.
Shame thrives in darkness, in secrecy. It is a low, slow vibration that keeps us trapped by the belief that we’re not enough. That we don’t belong. That we are fatally flawed.
We have more power within us to change than we have been led to believe. And it all starts with owning our stories. As Brené Brown writes, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” In order to untie the blame/guilt knot and live heaven on earth, you have to be willing to take responsibility for yourself and your circumstances. And if there is something you didn’t know before but know now, you act on the new knowledge and fix what needs fixing if possible.

2.    Release Shame 

Think of something you are ashamed of. Something you have never told anyone. Something you think is so awful that you can’t share it. Maybe you stole something as a kid and never told anyone. Or you found yourself feeling pleasure when you were being sexually molested. Or you have been addicted to porn. Or you were part of a mean-girls group in school and bullied other girls. Or maybe there’s something about your body that you’re ashamed of. Or your family. Maybe you’re ashamed of your parents. Whatever it is, know that the longer you keep it hidden, the more damage it will do to you. 
It’s very easy to bring more love into the place where the shame currently lives. You simply state out loud the thing that you are so ashamed of. Do that now. Simply say, 

“I am so ashamed of myself for [blank].” Now look in the mirror and say out loud, “I love you right there.” 

This actually brings the Infinite Love of your Divine Self right into the darkness and isolation of your shame. And illuminates it into Love. To make this exercise even more effective, repeat it with a trusted friend. Tell him or her what you are ashamed of. And have them say to you, “I love you right there.” The shame will melt away like dew in the sunlight. And what’s more, you will have “grown up” the scared child inside of you who never dared speak her truth.

3.    Become Shame Resilient 

In addition to letting your shame go and taking responsibility for your story, you have to address shame in life as it comes your way. In essence, you have to become shame resilient so you don’t take on additional pain that eats away at your self-worth.
Since we live in a shaming society, we need to spot the shaming and dissolve it with love whenever we see it—both in our own lives and in the lives of those around us.

4.    What to Do When Blamed or Shamed 

When you are blamed for something, whether it is justified or not, you feel shame or anger. The first thing to do is stop. Don’t defend yourself. Simply scan your body. Where do you feel the blame? 

Breathe deeply into that spot. Feel the feeling of shame, blame, or anger, and then love the part of you that feels it. Understand that this part of you is who has just shown up to be loved. That alone can work wonders. That hurt, misunderstood child is actually receiving your love and attention. Great. Then take action. 

Let’s imagine that you were blamed for forgetting to pick up milk at the store. In this instance, ask yourself if the blame is justified. Did you say you would pick up that milk and then not do it? 

• If the blame is justified, be accountable. Take responsibility. If you said that you’d pick up milk, admit that you messed up and then go get that milk. 

• If the blame isn’t justified, try to figure out the lesson in the blame. For example, if your wife simply mentioned that you were running low on milk but didn’t ask you to get any, you can’t be expected to pick up the milk. 

Very often we repeat childhood patterns in order to learn what our needs are—and to heal the wounds of childhood and learn our Soul lessons. If your father expected things from you without expressing what those things were, and you got in trouble because you didn’t fulfill his expectations, you are likely to marry someone who works in the same way. The minute you see this pattern and love the part of yourself that feels blamed, you begin to build your self-esteem. Your inner child begins to feel worthy. And after a while, you will be unable to continue accepting blame for something that you can’t possibly fix in your partner. You also have the opportunity to talk to your partner about your need to have things expressed clearly. Just don’t go all righteous. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

5.    Forgiveness: The Ultimate Cure for Blame and Guilt 

Forgiveness is the final key that completely unravels the blame/ guilt knot. Forgiveness is often misunderstood as condoning the bad things that were done to you. Or that you have done. That’s not forgiveness. Forgiveness means no longer letting your past be your reason for not thriving in the present.

When we know better we do better. Beating ourselves up for what we didn’t know in the past just keeps us stuck in blame and guilt. And that can fester for years. Every single one of us has something in our past that requires forgiveness. And the very hardest person to forgive is ourselves. So let yourself off the hook, and begin by loving the part of yourself that feels unworthy and unforgivable.

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from Making Life Easy.

This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program. ©2016 Copyright Christiane Northrup, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is an ob/gyn physician and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. She is also the New York Times bestselling author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, The Wisdom of Menopause, and Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Well-being. After spending decades transforming women’s understanding of their sacred bodies and processes, Dr. Northrup now teaches women to embrace a new mindset and thrive at every stage of life.
In her new book, Making Life Easy: A Simple Guide to a Divinely Inspired Life (December 2016, Hay House), Dr. Northrup reveals her long-hidden secrets to mind/body/spirit well-being. She is also thrilled with her new company A-ma-ta, derived from the Thai word for “ageless” and “eternal,” and devoted to creating and distributing products to support ageless goddesses everywhere. Don’t miss Dr. Northrup’s cutting-edge information. Follow her at, on Facebook, Twitter, and her Hay House Radio radio show, Flourish!

About Author
Dr. Christiane Northrup
Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and the world’s leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. A board-certified OB/GYN physician who graduated from Dartmouth Medical School and did her residency at Tufts New Engl Continue reading