Tag: shame

We were just joking about the 5 Easy Steps, but we do think it’s time to lose the reputation you’ve been trying so hard to protect! So here’s a story by (and about) Celeste that we think will help you find your freedom instead…

When the rumors started

One Monday morning in 8th grade, as I jogged slowly around the block with my fellow students in PE class in the small town where I grew up, one of my classmates jogged up next to me, “So, I heard you gave head to John last night in Nate’s treehouse.” Simultaneously, I felt the wind knocked out of me and my flight response kicked in full-force. I started to run as fast as I could – Looking back now, I know I was trying to run away from this image of me as a girl who would give a blowjob at a party to someone she wasn’t even really dating. Never having been any kind of jock, it was certainly the fastest I’d ever run in PE.

Nevermind that the furthest I had ever gone with a boy was a french kiss and a little touching of my breasts over the shirt. But for the sake of the rumor mill, the fact that I had breasts – really big ones for my young age combined with my flirtatious personality were enough to brand me a slut. When I first heard the news I felt a very strong need to clear up my reputation, to make sure people knew that I had done no such thing. At the same time, I was perhaps lucky to have been born in the early 70’s into a family who had fully embraced being part of the hippie counterculture. It had never been our motto to fit in or be what everyone else thought we should be. My dad was an avid stoner and, by this time, my mom had already begun her career as a Tarot reader.

And I, whether I liked it or not, was going to be seen as a slut. It didn’t take me too long to stop running and to wholeheartedly embrace the slut image. After all, I was really horney. I loved to flirt and feel people’s attraction towards me. Though I didn’t have sex with lots of guys, I started having sex relatively early and had had 5 partners by the end of high school. I also loved to make out at parties and I really, really loved dressing sexy. I liked the attention and I liked showing off my big, beautiful breasts.

Letting the “Good Girl” Go

There was something about losing the reputation of being a “good girl”, (something I still love to be called during sex), that also freed me up from worrying too much about being good in general. We, humans, are complex creatures, and to pretend that all of our motives and actions come from a place of love, generosity, and positive purpose is a lie. What’s more, even when we are coming from a place of love, generosity, and positive purpose, others may still see or experience what we are doing differently. They may even feel harmed by something that we are offering from this place.

The wonderful thing about losing your reputation, early and often, is that you don’t have to be shameful, or guilty, or defensive when you do something from the not-so-full-of-love-and-light part of yourself – from the childish, vindictive, or narcissistic part. And, you don’t have to defend yourself if you are doing something from a place of positive intention and someone else experiences what you’ve done as hurtful. Instead, you can “cop to it”. When you can be honest about not being perfect and you can let go of having to be seen as perfect, you get to be human and you get to be more connected.

So, go ahead and ruin your reputation

Think about it, if you have to defend against, divorce yourself from, or hide from anyone who thinks that something about you isn’t perfect or who is harmed by your best intentions, you will spend a lot of time defending, divorcing yourself, and hiding. If, instead, you step towards people and acknowledge your imperfections and hear their pain.You may even know that they are most certainly gossiping about you behind your back and you can let go of needing that to be different because you can now walk in the world with openness. People may look at you and shake their head disapprovingly saying, “She (or he) is shameless” and you will know that they are right. Turns out being free of shame is not such a bad thing.

  • Photo by Raj Bandyopadhyay

If there is one quality that we insist upon when training sex and relationship coaches it is that they teach from their vulnerability. We may seem like broken records but we cannot emphasize it enough: one of the most harmful and least compassionate things that you can do as a coach, therapist or personal growth teacher is to pretend that you have it all figured out and are now perfect. People suffer constantly under the belief that they have to be perfect to be loved, desired, or in a relationship. They think that they will someday get over all of their hurts and never feel bad or triggered again. This is an impossible task and only causes people to judge themselves harshly and keep themselves closed off against connection.

We also practice what we teach. When one of us sits in front of a client and says, vulnerably, “Last week in my relationship, I got so triggered, that all of my revenge fantasies started flooding in and I just wanted to make my partner hurt as much as I felt hurt,” our clients say, “You? I thought you had it all together.” There is so much projection on teachers and so much shame that results. By being vulnerable about the fact that we are all still on our own growth journey and will always be, we are saying that you don’t have to be perfect to be loved (or to be a coach or teacher).

We also engage in authentic relationships with our clients, not only listening to how we impact them, but sharing vulnerably how they impact us. In this way, they get to see that we are not perfect and to learn about being in a real relationship. Hopefully, most people in helping professions already know that they are emotionally affected by their clients. Allowing your clients to know they impact you just as you impact them helps them learn what it is like to be in a real relationship – namely, that you cannot avoid impacting the other person. Sometimes we feel joy and pleasure with our clients, sometimes we feel hurt or rejected, just as they feel with us.

If we take a step even deeper into the premise that people learn how to move beyond shame and to be in a real relationship through vulnerability, when we work with our clients we also let them know our biggest emotional challenges and how they have affected us and continue to affect us. We also learn each of our client’s biggest challenges and talk about how ours may interact with theirs and in what ways we might trigger one another. We talk about these triggers vulnerably when they arise between us and our clients.

For example, after a challenging email exchange, when we are back together in the office, one of us might say, “The hurts of my childhood sometimes make it hard for me to trust. When I got your email, I felt attacked even though I know that was not your intention and I’m sure you were triggered, too. It took me a while to calm down and write back because I didn’t want to respond from a triggered place. I can imagine that might have triggered some of your abandonment fears and I would love to hear how you felt and also tell you how your choice of words affected me.” This is an invitation to hear each other’s challenges and triggers and to move towards empathy and repair. To be able to talk openly and practice sharing these challenges in a safe space gives them the tools and skills they need to take out into their own intimate partnerships. Helping your clients learn about and empathize with their partner’s challenges and share their own almost always leads to more gentleness and mutual support in their relationships.

Sharing vulnerably and inviting others vulnerability is a skill that takes time, practice and gentleness with yourself and others. If you’d like to do some deep transformational work that will change the quality of your relationships forever, come join us for The Somatica Core Training.