The wise Seth Godin posted a blog today called "Hiding." He included these words: "We hide by avoiding things that will change us...We hide by asking for reassurance. We hide by letting someone else speak up and lead... We live in fear of feelings."
Shame is the hiding emotion. Here are some of my thoughts on the origin of hiding:
We are born with core feelings of exuberance, excitement, joy, interest and pride. Ever see a little baby convulse, shake, smile and laugh with sheer uninhibited delight in response to mere eye contact from a smiley bright-eyed mommy?
But when a baby's exuberance is met with a "SHHHH!" or a flat, sad, uncaring or angry expression, innate shame is evoked. The mis-match between our exuberance and our caregiver's response causes an excruciating reaction in our young bodies that causes us to shrink. It is a primal rejection! We pull inward away from engagement to protect us from the insult of not being matched. This is the birth of shame: the hiding emotion.
Any time our exuberance is not validated, we are prone to shame.
Shame is an awful physical and emotional experience and the brain learns well to avoid it. That's why we reflexively hide.
As adults, no longer reliant on caregivers or others for emotional and physical safety, we can relearn how to feel safe while feeling big, expansive and exuberant. We can rewire our brains and safely try again.
Top Five Ways to Come Out From Hiding
Know that hiding is a learned behavior that kept you safe when you were little; your body and mind did what it was programmed to do for emotional survival.
Know that hiding is not your fault, even though "our shame" tells us it is.
Know that as adults we can handle rejection better and come out of hiding.
Know that you can surround yourself with friends and partners who can feel proud when you are proud, feel happy when you are happy, feel excited when you are excited, feel interested when you are interested.
Practice changing your habitual reflex to shrink and hide: give yourself permission to deeply feel expansive feelings like joy, pride, interest and excitement when they arise.
Seth writes, "We're lucky enough that the things we used to fear don't happen so often any more, so now we fear feelings." How true...
So try to remember: Changing is hard and a little scary, but absolutely doable. You can learn that coming out into the open and expressing feelings is, now, safe. If you persist in allowing your Self to be seen, it gets easier. Your risks lead to rewards. And feeling expansive has many.
Here is another link to Seth Godin's blog, "Hiding."