May 8, 2018

One Man's Journey of Healing Shame - Part 1

This week, I am thrilled to introduce you to Dolan Mayeda, who in addition to being a chiropractic kinesiologist, author and coach living in San Diego, is also a Comment Moderator for the Healing from Sexual Abuse Facebook Group

This month, he will be sharing his journey in understanding and healing shame. He's even written a book about it called Shame Hack. The book describes the process by which we can transform shame from a place of hurt to a place of healing. 


I’d like to begin by sharing a little bit about myself. I’m a child sexual abuse survivor. I can’t recall the exact age. But I believe I was in the third grade. It was a one-time event from a neighborhood kid down the street. And it messed me up.

I’m third generation Japanese American depending on when you start counting. I start with my grandfather who immigrated and consider him first generation. I grew in a Japanese culture. One of the few Japanese words I learned growing up was bachi. Bachi as I understood the word means you get what you deserve. 

When my parents explained bachi to me they would said, "If you play with fire and you get burned, you deserve it." Thus if bad things happened to me, I thought I deserved it. If I thought very little of myself, I thought that was right. I had circular thinking as a child. I’m bad. Something bad happens to me. I feel bad. I deserve it. And around the thoughts go.

I’m a sensitive person by nature. I feel deeply and am quite observant. Growing up being sensitive sucked. It was just too easy to get my feelings hurt. So I learned to shut them down. Now, as an adult I’ve learned that being sensitive is truly a gift. It allows me to connect with people at a heart level, which is something I truly enjoy.

I’ve had plenty of shame to deal with. I was molested, raised in a shame influenced culture, and have a sensitive nature. I share this with you so that you know that I know what it is to feel shame. In fact, I’d say I was shamed to the core. I’ll talk about being shamed to the core in the next post.

For now, let’s just talk about shame. There are so many different experiences and triggers for shame. For our discussion, I’m going to keep it simple and talk about shame as a feeling only. Yes shame can be far more complex with branches and interwoven pieces from a psycho-social-cultural model. But let’s keep it something we all can relate to. How it feels.

When I speak of shame I am talking about the painful feeling of not being enough. This feeling of not being enough comes in many flavors. Shame can feel like you are: unworthy, unlovable, you don’t belong, you’re the only one, you’re broken, there’s something wrong with you.

Let’s break a couple of these down. You feel unworthy. You are not enough to be worthy. It’s not that you ARE unworthy. You just feel that way. And this is what shame feels like. Here’s another. You feel unlovable. You are not unlovable. You feel shame.

This is what makes shame so tricky. You identify with the feeling. With shame it’s not that you feel bad. You ARE bad. You identify with being bad. You feel unworthy, which is shame. So you believe that you are. Why? Because it feels so true. Here’s another factor. If you feel emotions intensely, then when you feel unworthy, you feel intensely unworthy. It feels that much more true. Of course, you are not unworthy. You just feel that way at an intense and perhaps deep level. Perhaps you feel shame to the core. 

There’s good news if you feel shame the core. It means that you can feel to the core. If you can feel to the core, you can feel love to the core. Or joy to the core. Or meaning to the core. Shame is not a life sentence. Shame is a feeling. A feeling that can transform how you experience yourself.

One of the first steps to learn when you begin to resolve shame is to identify it. When you feel unworthy, unlovable or like you’re the only one, realize that you feel shame. Realizing you feel shame puts you in a position to begin to transform it, versus believing what shame is telling you. This is crucial. This changes your position from identifying with shame (i.e., I am unworthy) to realizing you are having feelings. This is a powerful beginning.

Read Part 2!
Dolan Mayeda is an author, coach, and chiropractic kinesiologist. He enjoys swimming, cooking, and his family tradition of making mochi. He lives and practices in San Diego, CA. 

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