“Shaming is one of the deepest tools of imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy because shame produces trauma and trauma often produces paralysis.”
- bell hooks
This. So much this. This has felt like the theme of my year and a value I've been making extra sure to embody in life and work.
When bell hooks died last week I, like I'm sure many others, turned back towards her writing. I stumbled across this quote and it resonated with where I am right now in this work.
I've been thinking about how even our mere perception of others, our treatment of them aside, says a lot about how engaged we are with our own embodied liberation.
Do we have mental/emotional/relational/somatic s p a c e for people who are different, act different, like different things than us? Are we willing to make the space for them? Or does space feel scarce in difference?
This year I had the chance to explore polyamory & kink with my friends over at Integrative Empowerment Group, a therapy practice here in Ypsilanti-Ann Arbor area.
And so much also just clicked right into place.
I became more curious about what happens on a somatic level in those moments when we anticipate being judged. I wonder about what happens on the most subtle levels when we might not even be conscious of our anxiety about being accepted, but our bodies know.
How can we be free in relationships where we have to override our somatic intuition about what feels good and vibrant? What kind of world are we creating when we shame others into withholding their authenticity?
I believe my work as a therapist and coach is to help people get curious. Even about the stuff you hold shame around (or the things you think you should hold shame around). Let's go there. What you find in that curiosity just might lead you to your most embodied, fulfilled Self.
And, while I generally believe my personal opinion should mean jack shit to your healing journey, what I can promise you is the more I work with people in this role, the more I realize just how wildly expansive "normal" is. The word normal is a loaded one, in part because of its linguistic history and narrow connotation. But normal in nature is diverse. And we are nature.
So my invitation to you is to approach yourself and those in your life from this place of expansive normalcy. And instead of judging or shaming get incredibly curious. Because the more truth we can uncover the more possibility there is for feeling alive and liberated.
I've got a workshop in January that might help you unlock some of that curiosity, as well as a blog post up right now that speaks to this as well.
AND I'm excited to announce that if you didn't get a chance to join Emma Walz and I for the Parts Work for People in Relationships workshop, we've got it on special sale through January 3rd!
Wishing you all a safe, healthy, and curious New Year!
Rest in power, bell hooks.
Photo by Monica Almeida