“Shame is the lie someone told you about yourself.” - Anais Nin
On this week’s Insightful Conversations, I had the pleasure of chatting with the lovely Judy Sedgeman. Judy is one of the early students of Sydney Banks. For more than three decades, Judy has been a teacher, mentor, and consultant in the 3 Principles. Her life’s passion has been to awaken creativity, resilience, and well-being in the people she works with.
One of the groups of people Judy loves to work with the most is women who have worked in the sex industry and are looking to reclaim their lives. Often these women, through no fault of their own, have been abused, prostituted, and sex trafficked. Some are runaways, trying to escape an abusive home life, while others have been sold into prostitution by their parents for drugs.
For women leaving the sex industry, escaping their former life is only half the problem. So many of them feel that they can’t fully be free of their past. They feel like damaged goods. Worthless and tainted and beyond help. They are so riddled with shame they can’t begin to imagine a brighter future for themselves.
Through the understanding of the Principles, Judy is able to help these women see that the past is the past and there is nothing they can do to change it. However, they do have the power to decide how they want to live their lives from this point forward. With her warmth and wonderful sense of humor, Judy tells these women to look at their time as sex workers as a “very bad first job.” Nothing more or nothing less. Accepting that if they’d known better, they would have done better, and most importantly, a fresh start is always one thought away.
It’s important to differentiate between guilt and shame. Although often intertwined, at its core, shame is different from guilt. Guilt is a feeling you get when you judge yourself as having done something wrong or hurtful towards another person. Guilt is often accompanied by regret and remorse. On the other hand, shame has more to do with feeling that, at our core, our whole self is wrong. Shame is the rejection of the self. We feel defective, bad, unacceptable, and damaged beyond repair.
Prior to coming across the Principles, I, too, suffered from debilitating shame. It started as far back as I can remember. Firstly I felt ashamed for being born illegitimate, the product of an affair between my mother and my father. That led to me feeling ashamed for causing my father’s family pain. After that, I felt ashamed for having the natural needs and wants of a young child. Next, I felt ashamed for being abused. Then, as I grew older, I felt ashamed about how I looked, my weight, and dropping out of college. You name it, and I managed to feel shame about it.
The Principles helped me to see that spiritually we are all created equal and that, at my essence, I am no more than or less than everyone else. They helped me to see that there was never anything wrong, broken, flawed, or damaged about me. And that there was nothing that I needed to be ashamed of. I am human, and like every other human on the planet, we are all doing the best we can, given our thinking and level of consciousness in the moment.
As a 3 Principles practitioner specializing in Codependency, the majority of my clients suffer from shame. At the core of low-self esteem and low self-worth is shame. It is one of the most complex and toxic emotions that undermine our feelings of mental health and well-being. Unresolved shame can lead to addictions, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, unhealthy relationships, problems at work, and even how we parent our children. Yet, by its nature, shame wants to stay hidden and unhealed.
Shame doesn’t serve us or anyone else. Instead, it keeps us small and in hiding. We are afraid to be seen for who we truly are, magnificent formless spiritual beings, doing the best we can as we navigate our time on earth in our human form. Understanding the Principles behind how our experience of life is created is the spiritual solution to overcoming shame.
With love and appreciation, Del 💕