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How Living Authentically Heals Shame

<em>Edit Article</em> How Living Authentically Heals Shame

Illustration Credit: Juggling by Jennifer Davis

Shame hides the best of our being and all we have to offer. Here’s a tested path for coming out.

My first experience of shame came in the aftermath of my parents’ divorce at the age of eight. At the time we lived in Côte d’Ivoire, in West Africa, where people considered divorce a taboo, something only Westerners did. I felt so ashamed about my parents’ divorce I lied to the neighborhood kids, telling them my father’s business travel kept him away for long periods. I invented a new, more desirable me, and discarded my true self as worthless. I spent the remainder of my childhood and much of my young adulthood hiding that true self, and as a result falling into a deep and chronic depression. After years of psychotherapy, antidepressants, and deep self-inquiry work, I conquered my depression. This feat, though obviously beneficial, left me confused about my identity. I didn’t know the difference between my real self and my depressed self. I felt restless and incomplete. I sensed life had a deeper purpose, but I failed to grasp it. So began an arduous spiritual quest for my life’s purpose. This journey included more years of self-inquiry and more therapy, and I learned I needed to rid myself of shame …

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