The presence of shame has to do with one thing more than any other the loss of connection with the deeper layers of self so that one’s own self-perception becomes based on something less real rather than on something that is more real.
Shame is an expression of disconnection from the soul. It is an experience of that disconnection. For even if mistakes have been made or behaviors exhibited that were less than what we presently would wish, these behaviors and mistakes do not warrant shame. They warrant a commitment to learn from these errors and a prayer for guidance in order to assist with the process of healing. In many cases, especially where harm has been done to others, they warrant regret. But regret and shame are two very different things. Regret is an expression of sadness that is derived from a love that has been limited in its expression and that wants to give more of itself. This love does not have to be toward another person. It can be toward life itself. Limitation of love or the capacity for lovingness causes regret. Shame, by contrast, is not about love, but about blame. It is the reverse of blaming others and, instead, attributes blame to the self.
Shame has a positive quality, however, as well as a negative. It is self-reflective in nature and indicates a capacity for self-observation and self-assessment which can be turned to useful purposes as well as to those that are undermining. The self-reflective capacity that allows us to experience shame could also allow us to benefit from the capacity for self-observation that takes place, moment to moment, so that a greater sense of choice becomes possible in relation to how we want to express in the world.
Often, elements of shame are karmic in nature, arising from significant relationships in which we have felt devalued by others. These karmic entanglements need to be let go of in order to be truly free of shame. However, even in the absence of such entanglements, a person who sincerely strives for doing what is good and loving may come to feel shame, not because of any outside influence, but because of their own perceived sense of limitation and helplessness in being able to do as well as they would like. The state of limitation itself can produce feelings of shame in one who has difficulty accepting limitation, who thinks they should be further along a particular continuum of measurement.
The loss of a sense of valuing the self, however briefly, is what shame is about. It replaces the deeper truth of who we are with a more superficial and constricted view of ourselves. This view does not honor the sacred nature of life and the spiritual purpose being served by the experience of learning that life offers. Such a passage inevitably involves making mistakes and learning from them.
To move past shame in a way that allows for the greater expansion of our spirit, it is necessary to see ourselves in a learning process throughout our entire embodiment and to acquire the humility that is necessary to do this. Humility is not humiliation, although for some it is perceived as such. It is the willingness to acknowledge the inner being that is on a journey, and to place that inner being in service to something greater than ourselves. From the place of humility, it becomes natural and possible to perpetually learn from life without shame and without self-accusations, and to envelop this process in a state of prayer so that we are continually being guided along the way.