Note: the blue italics indicates the teacher, in black other participants.

Shame, remorse

Shame/remorse (without guilt feeling) is a door to access the higher emotional center. I consider it as important as the welcoming of necessary suffering and body consciousness. Share your observations on this subject with us in your own experience.

E.:Feeling shame makes it possible to lower your head and eyes before God.
Feeling shame allows you to acknowledge your negligence, your mistake, your forgetting, your sin.
Feeling remorse makes it possible to lift your head up, look God in the face, forgive yourself.
Feeling remorse allows you to take responsibility, take action, make amends.
Feeling remorse allows you to be relieved, to free yourself, and to smile at Life.

E.’s text is strong and bright. I feel like I have nothing to add. I feel two different movements: downwards for shame (compaction and desire to hide) and upwards for remorse (recovery and momentum for action).

Shame allows this recognition that rules out any possible justification for my behavior, there is no possible justification when I have failed and the feeling of shame allows me to confront it. Feeling shame leads me to sincere remorse and to finding innocence, it allows me to make decisions, to make anchorages so that I don’t forget, to avoid making the same mistakes again, and to repair if possible. In my experience, shame and remorse have a central place; they are the ones who have put me back on the right path and made existential decisions. With the compass of the heart, they have guided my life, they have been and still are for me a path to humility. But it is not something that is integrated into my daily life, it must be obvious for me to become aware of it and feel ashamed, there are certainly many “potential” shameful things that I pass by or avoid.

Shame is a feeling that has been with me for a long time, but I didn’t really know what it was about until we talked about it in detail. Not being able to recognize this feeling put me in a kind of embarrassment, I found it strange to get into such states often for very small things. I had the impression that it was an exaggeration, not seeing it expressed in people around me. It was a great relief when we discussed it and it allowed one of the pieces of my personal puzzle to come together naturally. I was able to validate that the desire for instant reparation that I felt after being ashamed was also normal. For a long time I thought it was to avoid the feeling that is very strong in me, but in reality, it is just the logical and healthy continuation of the feeling of shame, and that does not exempt me from continuing to feel it.

Stopping at the superficial structure of shame may be enough to give oneself a clear conscience, encourages one to deny the consequences, to bury one’s head in the sand, indulge in self-pity, to lock oneself in self-judgment, to make one feel guilty by feeding unnecessary suffering. There is a second level, a deeper structure. To feel remorse, I must show humility, examine my conscience, assume my imperfection, my responsibility, act of contrition. I must accept in me the necessary suffering that accompanies this feeling. By feeling remorse, I show dignity, I experience a transformation, I move towards a greater humanity, I open myself to a sacred dimension: love.

I have observed that opportunities to feel shame are regular. And that great vigilance is required to avoid identity-based avoidance mechanisms like for example guilt feelings), in order to be able to access the feeling of shame. Shame brings me back to humility and surrender. Then to emptiness and compassion towards all beings, myself included. Remorse, when it is there, acts as a non-judgmental reminder not to let me get dirty anymore.

Recently, I completely forgot to send the convocation to my association’s general assembly. When the President called me to tell me about this omission, I felt a great shame, it was really an unworthy breach for me, especially because I had said I would do it. I welcomed this shame. Very paradoxically (I could have been knocked down) I felt something physically in my heart and my body plumbed; instead of collapsing, I felt my supports, my verticality, and quickly I knew what I had to do. Is that where remorse comes in? I had to act immediately and fix this breach. I felt a determination: so I prepared to spend an all-nighter, if necessary, to finish this convocation. No question of fatigue. Finally, at one am I was finished. The next morning, I was able to make the final checks with the president, and the convocations was sent in extremis.

It is not very clear to me the nuance between shame and remorse: what I can say is that the feeling of shame, present in particular following an awareness that I have betrayed a value or a commitment, is a weight, a very strong signal that mobilizes me physically. I think I understand that remorse is the passage that follows the weight and makes me move, abandoning a task in the moment to go and repair the fault. It is this urgency to repair that then allows me to feel both light and soft, with the feeling of being very small and very tall at the same time. I repair and repair myself and reintegrate into the space of real life.

The shame I feel quite regularly concerns certain actions I do or words spoken, it appears most often when I slip out of control by not accepting a necessary suffering, which allows for example, anger, arrogance or impatience to emerge, with the subsequent appearance of shame and remorse. I can’t say that the process is really fluid and clear to me, because I feel like I’m avoiding shame as much as I can. There is an underlying fear, that of an annihilation by shame. But here is how I perceive this process: feeling ashamed, admitting (acknowledging the facts), acknowledging my responsibility, feeling remorse, which leads to humility. What I then perceive is a kind of absolution, a zeroing, forgiveness and peace with myself, which carries an energy of action to do or say something (for example, ask forgiveness) and also carries the energy to re-engage myself. In this sense, each failure is an energy to re-engage myself in the work.

Because it is at the heart of my original belief, I am in fact very sensitive to error and therefore to feel my nullity. But the subject of shame/remorse has changed the way it feels. On the one hand, I still feel like a nobody, but no less or more than the others. There is something less ego-centered in this feeling. On the other hand, there is humility and forgiveness that gives another impetus. There are many small moments of failure and shame in my daily life. I cross them in the acceptance of the necessary suffering and I simply feel my humanity. And there are bigger moments: at the professional level, I am currently working on a mission where I am supposed to bring expertise, but in practice, for many reasons, I feel like I am not at the level. Strong sense of shame and helplessness. The importance of working on shame/remorse here is that instead of whipping myself and sinking into self-pity or apology defenses, I try to forgive myself and leave again with each intervention, from where I am. Internal dialogues such as “I should have done this or that” go to waste. It gives a diffuse but not blocking feeling of suffering. Like a karma to be assumed in all humility.

Being ashamed without resistance reduces the need for justification, distortion or avoidance. Shame is both the consequence of my failures, the honest acknowledgement of my shortcomings and allows me to understand the consequences of the results that follow. Shame makes you reflect. During her passage, it leaves behind it lucidity and humility. If action is needed to improve the situation, I will do what needs to be done.

Thank you, Mrs. Shame for your soft voice that tells me I’m going astray. Thank you Mr. Remorse for your strength that allows me to get back on the right track.

From my experience, shame makes it possible to become aware of one’s own nullity and to recognize one’s expectations and demands, to recognize and accept one’s weaknesses so that one no longer burdens others with them. Shame kills pretentiousness and arrogance. Remorse allows for recognition of the other and oneself, acceptance of one’s worth and compassion. They allow the expression of reparation and forgiveness and immersion in the dynamics of real life.

I remember feeling a terrible shame, about the fact that after stepping into real life I had lost that experience after 5 or 6 months… I mentioned it as a group and the shame felt invaded me and made me cry with hot tears during this testimony. And I know that a terrible remorse had pushed me to start all over again, when nothing seemed to work anymore and I found myself stuck in my shit. I must say that remorse was the fuel to react to this “fall”, not to accept it, not to resign myself to it. I have another recent example: during our last meeting, I made some mistakes through forgetting or negligence, that the instructor immediately pointed out to me. I felt ashamed of not being reliable! And remorse pushed me to settle down powerfully in vigilance and body consciousness, so as not to fall back into negligence. Shame is an acknowledgement, in me, of my failure, more than my weakness. It is about something I can do, that I say I can do but I neglect. Remorse generates a force necessary to “redeem the fault”. It evokes a form of inner commitment so that we might not fail again in future.