Question for Bernie
I grew up with a loving mother and a father. When I was 17/18, I was briefly involved in a relationship with a boy who was very physically abusive and shaming and blaming. I was able to escape that relationship within six months of it starting. However, I never told my parents about what the boy did to me because even the police didn’t believe me when I tried reporting my boyfriend to the authorities. I really felt, at that moment, like my life didn’t matter and that regardless of how good or bad I was, it didn’t matter.
Without going into too much detail, I spent my 20’s working and going to school but had little ambition or drive to marry or start a family of my own. I engaged in self-destructive behavior, but was still able to graduate, land great jobs, and eventually marry and start a family in my early 30’s. Of course, nothing made me happy, and with each passing birthday, I found myself more miserable than the year before.
It wasn’t until I was 35 and fell into a relationship with a person who treated me worse than I had been treating myself that I woke up to the craziness of my self-destructive thinking and way of being. I escaped THAT relationship and started intense self-reflection. Although my transformation hasn’t been instant, easy, or without additional pain, I wouldn’t trade who I am today with whom I was before. I spend a lot of time sharing my story with others so they can see that they are not alone, there is hope, and that life can be joyful by moving forward despite where you’ve been.
My question: Do we ever fully release the guilt and shame associated with the years of self-destructive behavior we inflicted upon ourselves and those we love? I meditate and embrace myself daily, but the thoughts of shame and blame continue to wash over me intermittently.
It’s been three years since I started mindfully taking back my life, but I’m wondering if these memories that conjure up these feelings will one day end if I keep working to eliminate them through meditation and thoughtful action.
The answer to your very thoughtful question is an unequivocal YES—you can abandon your past with the help of mantras and meditation, along with, as you have already discovered, lots of hard work.
As you begin each day, and at any time you need it throughout the day, remind yourself that your thoughts are yours which puts you—and only you—in control. One type of meditation that has finally been recognized as very effective for physical and emotional pain through several studies in Western medicine is simply called “Mindfulness Meditation.” I don’t know if you are already using this technique, but whatever type of meditation practice you are using should primarily be one that you can easily and faithfully practice daily.
The key to success in leaving those destructive emotions of shame and blame behind is forgiveness—of yourself and anyone in your past who harmed you. You can then feel the joy of being grateful for what you are and have.
You sensed the crucial need to bring forth what is stored within you, and in choosing to do that, you can now apply meditation to learn how to let all that negativity go. It can be done when you are willing to put the work in—and clearly you are.
The destructive behaviors and/or thinking that many adults struggle with is all about not feeling loved as a child. This does not always mean that parents didn’t do many or most of the “right” things in helping a child develop self-esteem to protect that child against falling into the trap of turning on yourself with the weapons of blame and shame as you grow and expand your experience of life. But something happened that caused you to either not develop that protection at all, or at least not enough.
So now it is up to you to embrace that child you were and give her unequivocal love. In this way, you will bring your current work in meditation to diminish and then eliminate the negative memories together with the protection of your newly strengthened and well-deserved self-esteem. You will begin to see yourself as a strong, insightful person. All of the “green lights” are there.
Question for Bernie
I just read you book Peace, Love and Healing, and it was the most caring and loving reading I’ve done in years! Thank you so much for all your wisdom and all that you share with the world. You are an amazing person!
I was wondering if you could please give me some insights about hypothyroidism. I was diagnosed hypo a few years ago, but didn’t go to an endocrinologist because I’m aware of the Mind-Body Connection. I’m trying to heal on my own without external medical help.
Also, I have a congenital heart disease (it was my cardiologist who discovered the hypothyroidism), and I’m afraid that any medication to my thyroid might worsen my heart condition. However, it seems I’m not successful in healing, as my thyroid is still enlarged and my blood tests still show altered values in the thyroid hormones. I lost a lot of hair and that was the worst thing, making me very sad.
I can see the connection, at least, it is what seems to me like a connection, between my personality and hypothyroidism; I was always afraid to speak for myself, always tried to fulfill people’s wishes instead of my wishes, always said yes when I really wanted to say no, and have always diminished myself as a person. I believe that I acted this way out of feeling guilty for being born with a heart disease.
In the past few weeks, though, I have been more assertive, trying to send the message to my body and mind that I want and intend to LIVE, as you encourage in your work. I am doing what I want and saying no when I really want to say no.
I’m still not sure if I’m going down the right path. Sometimes I think I won’t be successful in healing my thyroid. Even though I am applying my knowledge of the Mind-Body Connection, it seems I’m still stuck. Could you please give me your insights?
Thank you so much for your time. God bless you!
Look at the top menu on the first page of my website under Quick Links and click on the Immune Competent Personality Test. Read the list.
You are acting in just the opposite way of doing what is good for you, and so your anger turns within creating an auto-immune disease. In this case, the Mind-Body Connection is represented by your thyroid sending signals of deficiency. Belief in the Mind-Body Connection does NOT exclude using what mainstream medicine has developed and used successfully for specific health issues.
The endocrine system is complex, and the thyroid hormones, along with the hormones of the other endocrine organs, influence balance in all body systems, so you can take thyroid hormone replacement treatment if it is necessary. I would recommend Amour thyroid hormone replacement therapy rather than the more common artificial replacement drugs. It is not wrong to do what is good for you and your body. The term preferred now to describe using both mainstream and alternative medicine approaches to maintaining your health and healing is Integrative Medicine. Many of the biggest and most respected university medical schools now have a Department (or Institute) for medical students to train in this new specialty area. The hope is that Integrative Medicine brings patients the best of both worlds.
After you read the Immune Competent Personality Test, you will learn to say no to the world and yes to yourself. Pay attention to what your heart desires now, and abandon the wounds of your past and of your childhood.
Peace & love & healing,