Why Everyone Should Learn To Confront Their Shame

Why Everyone Should Learn To Confront Their Shame

There's nothing more liberating than letting go of everything that's been holding you down.
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Have you ever wished that you could just talk to someone and know you're not being judged and that nothing you say can be used against you? Without the price tag of a therapist and the restriction of a religious confession, many of us don't have somewhere to turn to when we need to unload.

A few weeks ago, I stepped into a phone booth and sat down. I took a deep breath and looked at the rotary phone sitting in its cradle in front of me. It was the only thing that stood between me and peace of mind.

I'd been sent in with one simple instruction: speak. It didn't matter what I said. I knew I wouldn't be judged for the secrets I was leaving behind.

When I picked up the receiver, I didn't know what I was going to say. I had a few ideas rattling around in my brain but I was trying to go in with no expectations, not knowing what I was going to say and what burdens I was finally going to get off of my chest.

When I picked up the phone, a warm soothing voice welcomed me and told me what was about to happen. At the end of the message, there was a beep and then, just like leaving a voicemail, it was my turn to speak. The phone rested comfortably in my hand while I gathered my nerves and the words started to flow.

To be honest, I don't remember what I said. I just know that when I stepped out of the booth, I walked into the arms of a woman I'd met 45 minutes before, offering me a hug, a gesture of solidarity for what I'd just experienced. I also know that I felt lighter. None of my problems had been solved but, by not being the only person carrying the weight of my past, I was able to leave some of my personal baggage on the bench of that booth and walk away a different person.

This project is called ShameBooth. It's a San Francisco-based interactive art experience started by Paula Williams, a mom and San Francisco local that's sick of letting shame and fear hold us back. She and her group of "Shame Dames" travel with the booth throughout the country.

It's easy to participate, even if you're nowhere near the booth. You can call 415-890-4802 from wherever you are, anytime of day or night, and leave a recording.

So what are you waiting for? Call. And stop letting your fear and shame and guilt hold you back from being the best version of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Maria Nelson

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Stand In The Mirror

An exercise in self-love.

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If you're reading this, then I want you to stop what you're doing right now, get up from wherever you're sitting, and go stand in the mirror.

Yes, that's right. Close your laptops, put down your phones, and walk to the closest bathroom, or vanity, or wherever else you can see your reflection the most clearly. Pretend like you're the only person in the world for a little while.

Are you there? Good.

Now I want you to look at yourself, very closely.

Start with your eyes. How beautiful they look underneath the light; you can see all their colors, just like a painting! Something that unique belongs in an art museum, don't you think?

Those eyes of yours have seen so many wonderful things. Think of all the sunsets they've allowed you to witness, all the times your best friends have grinned from ear-to-ear and all the books you've read.

Now, look at your lips. Think of all the lovely people they may have kissed, all the Thanksgiving dinners they've touched and all the funny faces they've helped you express.

Think all of the times they've opened to exude laughter and joy, to express awe and other associated feelings words cannot express.

Now it's time to examine your arms. Shrug your shoulders and admire the way they fall so gently at your sides, like water flowing from the mouth of a river. Think of all the wonderful things they've helped you to reach, of all the trees they've helped you climb and monkey bars they've helped you swing through. Think of all the people they've hugged, and all the dogs they've helped you pet.

Finally, move to your legs. Think of all the races they've helped you win, all the hurdles they've helped you jump through and all the lengths they've helped you swim.

Think of all the pristine places they've carried you to, and reflect upon all the places you'll soon be heading to.

Can't you see now that you're a masterpiece, dripping with color and beauty, emotion and experience, from every fiber of your being?

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