Many, many moons ago, I was on Weight Watchers when I started to notice a pattern arising.
I would “do good” all week and, then, on Friday night, my friend and I would go to Ruby Tuesdays to get burgers, fries, and ice cream. My points budget for the week would be blown in less than 20 minutes.
This happened for months.
Eventually, I started to see that this was actually making me insane with food. So, I quit Weight Watchers and pursued intuitive eating.
I was very content with that approach for a long time. I even became trained as an Intuitive Eating Counselor.
But, as the years passed by, much to my own confusion and shock, I discovered that, for me, Weight Watchers wasn’t the problem and that intuitive eating wasn’t the solution.
What really mattered was the energetic stance I was holding “under” both of those choices.
When I was sticking to my diet, it meant that I was good. When I “fell off the wagon”, it meant that I was bad.
And when I quit dieting and started intuitive eating, this pattern of good and bad didn’t miraculously heal. It just looked different.
Because then, when I was eating intuitively and loving my body just the way it was, I was good. And when I’d start to feel hatred for my body and want to go back on a diet, I was bad.
This kind of thing was showing up everywhere in my life. In my relationships. With money. With belongings.
Over time, I started to see that everything in my life was clouded by a never-ending sense that I was both too much and not enough.
Every choice I made was completely driven by fear, guilt, and shame.
Finally, after years of struggling with food, my body, money, and relationships, I could see that I was just trading one measuring stick for another,
With this awareness, I knew that it was time to put the measuring stick down.
And so, I did.
It’s been hard. But man, has it been worth it.
I often have days where I, literally, wake up knowing that my worth is not up for debate. I don’t need to try to prove it with my body, with my connections, and with my bank account.
Because, in the eyes of the Divine, worthiness is not actually a thing.
And on the days where it doesn’t come quite that easily, because that happens, too, I know how to bring myself back to my Truth.
That ability to bring myself back – to deliberately CHOOSE my Truth – is freedom.
How To Free Yourself From Self Doubt, Guilt, and Shame
If you’ve read this far, my guess is that you want to CHOOSE YOUR TRUTH, too.
So, below, you will find some of the most important processes that have brought me to where I am now.
And even though they are written in a linear way, it isn’t a step-by-step process.
When applied “correctly”, you will ebb and flow out of them, revisit them, circle back to that other one, and heal all along the way.
Until eventually, they just become your way of life and are a reliable set of tools when the shit of life hits the fan.
Let Go Of Trying to Fix Yourself (Because You Aren’t Broken)
Pretty much everything about our current culture tells us that we aren’t rich enough, thin enough, pretty enough, young enough and that we are too loud, too sensitive, too sassy, too proud, too ambitious.
In other words, we’ve been conditioned to believe that we are both not enough and too much, all at the same time.
It’s not personal. It’s cultural. And, it’s at the root of most self-doubt, guilt, and shame.
It leads to a chronic state of “fixing” what is “wrong” with us in a twisted attempt to live up to the expectations of our family of origin, our teachers, our romantic partners, and the Divine (God, Source, Universe, Whatever You Call It).
Many people go through their whole lives completely unaware of this conditioning and in some cases, actually, believe that it’s the “best” way to live.
And while that might be True for them, my guess is that, like I did, you’ve started to become aware that it isn’t working for you.
There is a part of you that already knows that you are already whole or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. You wouldn’t have found your way here if you weren’t ready to heal for this.
In order to do that, you’ll need to be able to recognize the “triggers” that activate the “patterns” of self-doubt, guilt, and shame.
And to be clear, no, I am not talking about your thoughts. I’m talking about your points of choice along the spectrum of needs, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
Be Present, in This Moment, in Your Body, on Planet Earth
In order to become aware of your triggers and patterns, you’ll need to be present, noticing what is happening, right now, around you, and in your body (mentally, emotionally, and physically).
Many of the people I’ve worked with really struggle with this because the body can be a scary place with all of its feelings and sensations.
The avoid that scariness, we oscillate between getting bogged down in day-to-day life and having our head “in the clouds.”
When you find yourself doing any of these things, a quick reconnection practice can be helpful.
To reconnect, place your feet flat on the floor, take a few deep breaths (in through the nose and out through the mouth) and then start to scan your body and your surroundings.
Make note of the sensations you feel (emotionally or physically) without attaching any meaning or judgment to them. Just notice them.
Find the Gifts in Your Emotions (Even the “Negative” Ones)
Despite what you’ve been taught about your emotions, they all contain sacred gifts that, with discernment, will help you move forward with your dignity intact.
The gift comes in the form of guidance about the actions you need to take in order to honor your needs, your values, and your desires.
Sometimes, that action will be to heal a pattern of cultural conditioning. Other times, it may be to set a boundary, take the leap, or get the hell out of dodge.
No matter what, in order to access the gift, you must become present with the feelings in your body (rather than in your mind) and allow it to ebb and flow, as all emotions do.
It is important that you remove any kind of judgment about the feelings. If you are judging your feelings as wrong or bad, you will not be able to access the gifts inside of them.
In some cases, this kind of presence will resolve the emotion immediately. Other times, you will intuitively know what the emotion is communicating to you, and other times, you’ll need to spend a bit more time processing it, which is a whole other process we can talk more about later.
Discern Cultural Conditioning from Personal Integrity
As you feel into your feelings, you may start to notice that removing judgment and not attaching meaning to your feelings is hard. Your mind may start to weave stories about “the kind of person you are”, what you are capable of, or even about the emotion itself.
This is where your skills of discernment are critical.
I’ll admit, it can be hard to figure out if the message is actually coming from your own sense of Integrity and Wholeness or if it is coming from cultural conditioning.
And if you aren’t sure, you can end up taking actions that aren’t helpful in moving you in the direction you want to go.
When you have developed your skills of discernment, you may notice those same feelings of shame but be able to tell that it is arising from cultural conditioning, rather than your own sense of integrity.
As I said before, this can be a little tough to navigate but a great starting point is to begin to notice if the shame is tangled up in words like should, have to, or must. If so, you can pretty much guarantee that it’s arising from cultural conditioning, rather than personal integrity.
Integrate Your Shadow Aspects to Feel Whole
As you use your skills of discernment, you are going to start to notice A WHOLE LOT of self-doubt, guilt, and shame that originates from cultural conditioning, rather than your own sense of Integrity and Wholeness. And the antidote to that is reintegrating the parts of yourself you’ve lost as a result of said cultural conditioning.
This is known as shadow integration. (Check out my how-to course here.)
See, we are interdependent beings, meaning that as a species, we mutually and autonomously depend on others to ensure our needs are met. (side note: interdependent and codependent are two VERY different things.)
Even though we have greatly evolved, we are still reliant on our “tribes” for both survival and thriving.
To see what I mean, just think for a moment about all of the people who were involved in the last meal you ate and how much work it took to get that food onto your plate. Without others, you wouldn’t survive very long.
As an adult, you are empowered to make choices about how your needs are met and you can “vote” with your dollars.
But, as a child, you were completely reliant on those who raised you to ensure that you were safe and that your other needs (both physical and emotional) are met.
As babies, we instinctively know this and as we grow up and start to experience approval and disapproval, which we correlate to our needs being met or not, we start to shape and mold ourselves into the person we think others (including the Divine) want us to be.
The fear of being banished from the tribe is so “hard-coded” into our DNA, that we literally see no other choice.
As a result, we end up with what is known as the shadow self.
The more we reject these aspects of ourselves, the more unconscious they become. The more unconscious they become, the less and less you will “feel like yourself” and the more they will run your life.
In the words of Carl Jung:
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.
By reintegrating our shadows, we reclaim our “lost” selves and begin to truly know our Wholeness.
To learn how to do shadow work, step-by-step, check out my course Shadow + Light.
Transform Knowledge Into Wisdom
This, my friends, is where the rubber meets the road.
None of what I just shared with you is valuable if you don’t transform what you learn into wisdom.
That means that you take what you discover and you actually apply it to your real life so that you can EXPERIENCE the benefits.
You take action, even when it feels uncomfortable.
You stand your ground, even if it means you “lose” people.
You say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no.
You CHOOSE your Truth, each and every day.
You actively recognize what is yours and what isn’t.
It is in this choice, that you will find your freedom.