I had an opportunity last night that has never occurred as long as I have been doing this group. Only one person showed up for group. We had such a deep, honest and rich conversation about. . . shame. Imagine that! That word and what it implies comes up so often in private conversations with participants, in group meetings and even in Church.
If there was a word that was the opposite of "lasting lifestyle change", I believe it would be shame. I know you guys have heard this so often, but I think this is a topic we can not hear enough about. Shame is like a cancer that erodes our progress in lifestyle change. If we are not intentional about challenging the shame messages in our lives, then our behavior will reflect it. Nothing drives me to a good old eating frenzy like a good old shame message.
I think there are three steps to getting shame out of our healthy space. First, we cannot challenge what we do not know exists. We have to first identify that we have shame messages in order to challenge them and believe something else. Many of the messages come from our childhood, from trauma or from people currently in our lives. These shaming voices may be so ingrained that they are difficult to identify without honest reflection, support of safe people or even professional help. Folks, the best news of all, is that these shame messages are learned. You and I were not born full of shame feeling such contempt for ourselves! We learned that somewhere along the way, and boy did my unhealthy eating behaviors reflect it!
After we identify a shame message, then it becomes a choice. Do we choose to believe the shame or not. The second step in ridding shame from our lives is to actually choose not to believe the shame message, to challenge the racket. My unhealthy behaviors usually reflect that I have chosen to believe the racket of shame that is yelling in the background of my mind. Last night, the lone H.O.P.E. participant and I spent a good bit of time talking about the fact that it is a choice whether to believe it or not. I promise you that if we believe the shame, our behavior (unhealthy eating) will reflect our choice.
If we choose not to believe the shame message, then what will we believe? We have to believe something. Either the shame message or the truth message. We cannot just choose to not believe shame without consciously deciding what it is we will believe instead. Choosing to believe the truth is the third step in ridding the shame in our lives. For me, my "truth" message is found in the Word of the Living God. I am told that there is no condemnation(shame) in Christ and that I am free, free, free from shame. Yippee!! Free from shame? Is that even possible? I am here to tell you that it is not only possible, but it is the greatest freedom that in turn allows us to live out our lives in the way we choose to without fear of the shameful judgement of God, ourselves, or others. Now that is freedom!
Shame always attacks the core of who I am, my personhood, my self. Conviction is always about my behavior. If I behave in a way that I feel convicted about, then I can respond responsibly with no shame. What is your 'truth message"? Where do you get your "truth message" to refute the shame in your life. Do you believe it? Does your behavior reflect that you believe it? I would love to hear your thoughts on this cornerstone topic of lasting lifestyle change.
Until next week, healthy living to all!