Tim Dyson, Elder of the Emerald Heart, shares with us his understanding of the mechanisms of the subconscious mind and how it ensnares us as a willing hostage.
I’m sure many will empathize with Tim’s struggle from this powerful and informative article.
Shame and Guilt – Our Most Persistent of Foes
Having struggled throughout a lot of my life with crippling feelings of shame and guilt and seeing similar difficulties in many of those I work with, I felt it was time to write an article on this subject with some suggestions as to how to start to overcome these difficult feelings based on some understandings I have come to.
If we first look at what is the proper function of shame and guilt, it is simply to let us know that our behaviour is less than wholesome and is damaging to others and ourselves. It is our moral compass that speaks to us through the heart to try and steer us away from negative behaviour. Once we have understood this and modified or changed our behaviour these feelings have served their useful purpose. Many people feel these feelings as a result of actions done to them, rather than actions taken by them, but the feelings are providing the same function in that they are trying to show the individual that what is being done to them is not good and is damaging for them.
But what is happening when 20, 30, 40 or 50 years later, after you have done a lot of work on yourself, and you live your life in a wholesome way, yet you still experience these feelings much of the time. What is happening then? Well, at a simple level we could say that you have created a habit pattern, a well-worn track that your sub-conscious follows time and again. It will start with a thought and that thought leads you back into the feelings you know so well. It is a well established mechanism and over time your body posture will even change. You will find it hard to hold yourself up straight and proud because you feel so full of shame.
If we look at this scenario a little more deeply, we can see that we have become a victim. We feel powerless to free ourselves from the prison we inhabit. This is because at a core level we actually believe that we don`t deserve a good life, that we are bad and need to suffer in life. We may feel we are being punished or that we are cursed but in reality it is ourselves who have created a system of self-punishment, in which we are endlessly the victim. If we are in the position of feeling shame as the result of the misdeeds of others, we are in essentially the same place, too full of shame to feel that we can have a good life, and feeling even more of a victim.
By working on ourselves we will probably experience periods of feeling free and clear and even feel full of confidence. We feel that we can really begin to fly in life but it never lasts very long, the old guilt and shame soon catches up with us and brings us crashing back down. We might try all sorts of intellectual methods to feel better about ourselves, like telling ourselves that, “In my essence, I am perfect and unaffected by all of this disturbance.” We might employ mantras such as, “I love myself.” However, we know deep down that it is not true. If we can’t really experience the truth of this and are only able to try and convince ourselves on the level of mind that it won’t change the uncomfortable truth that we don’t really like ourselves or more likely actually loath ourselves.
This all leads to more and more unworthiness and tends to make us feel that there is really no point in trying, as I always end up back in the same place anyway. So what do we do to break out of this cycle? Is there a way out of it? Well. I certainly can’t say I am completely free from these feelings but I do feel that I have understood some of the mechanisms by which they operate and this has allowed me to develop a certain amount of wriggle room and to gradually begin to recognise that I make choices about the life I create. That the power is in my hands to create a different reality that works for me, one in which I can grow and develop into the person I was born to be.
The first step for me in beginning to break free from this cycle was to understand the role played by my subconscious mind in this picture. The subconscious or ego mind does not want change of any kind and fights tooth and nail to prevent it. Every time you start to feel good in yourself and start to feel empowered to take charge of your life and confident in who you are the subconscious mind goes into panic mode. This is because it fears the change that will inevitably come if it allows this state of affairs to continue. It searches around for anything it can pull on and use as an energy source to stop you in your tracks and what better than the crippling feeling of guilt and shame that are so easy to access in those of us with this particular problem. Once these old feelings and emotions are dragged up we instantly start to lose our confidence, go into self doubt and unworthiness and become quickly blocked again.
From understanding this I looked at why I was always so powerless to prevent this from happening every time and I started to see that I have a victim mentality. That I recoil from the horrible feelings and feel victimised by them because it is easier than actually owning and taking responsibility for my life. That by beginning to face the feelings rather than run away or distract myself from them, I deny my subconscious mind the power of using them against me. In this way I can also begin to face the fear of taking responsibility for my life, firstly for all I have done and from there to building a positive and meaningful life. By seeing and accepting the truth that my need to punish myself for past misdeeds is a complete abdication of taking true responsibility for my life in the now, and serves nothing other than my fear of life and my subconscious or even conscious fear of change, I am step-by-step claiming control over the life that I create.
When we can start to see that the half lives we are leading do nothing to make recompense for any past misdeeds then we are on the right track. If we feel the need to make recompense with people from our pasts then we should do it but denying ourselves a fulfilling life is certainly not helping those we have wronged in any way. If we feel the need to make recompense with God we do it by becoming the person we were born to be, leading useful and productive lives, not by hiding in the shadows denying through our fears a life fully lived.
I never said it is easy but in accepting and facing the truth that we hide behind our shame and guilt as a way to avoid facing the need to be the drivers of our own lives and take real responsibility for them then we are beginning to step into our power. Shame and guilt are the internalised excuses we make to ourselves in order to stay weak and powerless. They keep us in a state of victimhood because through our fears we allow them to.
If we can start to see how we make the choice to collude with our subconscious mind so as to avoid facing the fears that keep holding us back we start to develop the attributes of courage, determination and strong intention and this in turn gives us the choice of going down a different path rather than the same old one over and over. I wish you all courage in your endeavours and to remind you that Emerald Heart Practitioners can provide you with tremendous help and guidance to get through this process but at the end of the day they can`t do it for you, only you can do that. However, sometimes through the use of Programs we can allow the Universal Consciousness to do a lot of the work for us as we surrender ourselves to this process.
Elder of the Emerald Heart