Lessons in Kindness, an approach to guilt and shame

Lessons in Kindness, an approach to guilt and shame

guilt and shame


‘When a person (among the Babemba tribes of southern Africa) acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman, and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused individual. Then each person in the tribe, regardless of age, begins to talk out loud to the accused, one at a time, about all of the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his life time. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy is recounted. All his positive attributes, good deeds, kindnesses and strengths are recited carefully and at length. No one is permitted to fabricate, exaggerate or be facetious about his accomplishments or the positive effect of his personality…’

– Leonard Zunin, 1972

How we respond to behaviours that are anything from displeasing to downright unacceptable often reflects how we feel about ourselves inside. It also reflects some of what we brought with us from our early years and what was modelled for us, and the social norms of our society. But it’s not too late to change our responses.

Guilt is usually short-lived and is a response- we did something, or failed to do something, and we feel bad about that. Sometimes that’s useful, and can motivate us to take some kind of corrective action or plan for personal improvement. It’s not so helpful if its unfounded guilt, or if for example we are being manipulated by someone.

Shame however is a different level. Shame is where our emotion becomes our identity at a deeper level. We feel, not that we have just something that is bad, but perhaps we are bad. Something about us is not fundamentally okay. Shame blocks our progress in life in terms of success and happiness as it leads to disruptive sabotaging behaviours.

In the video below I look at using Positive EFT to work through shame and reduce/eliminate it by focusing on the opposite of shame and calling that quality in. What is the opposite of shame? Perhaps pride, or grace. But it is the word you find most fitting that is the one to use, in the video I use ‘confidence.’


Positive EFT for releasing guilt and shame:

If you are feeling blocked by shame it can help to talk to someone about it, a counsellor or experienced EFT practitioner can help you to work through and release this so you can start feeling good again. Being ashamed doesn’t make anything better for anyone else, and doesn’t fix anything.

Growth Exercise: Read over the quote above again carefully, and think how you can apply some of that wisdom in your own life, both to others and to yourself. It might not mean gathering in a circle at the centre of a village, but taking the time to look at your or that person’s good points, and really acknowledging those.

A Dose of Positivity

A Dose of Positivity

A Dose of Positivity


Sometimes when we don’t feel so good a bit of positive energy can turn this around in minutes. Ever been around someone who is always negative and complaining? How do they make you feel? Similarly, think of someone who inspires you or feels good to be around. The way we feel, our energy, vibration or whatever else you want to call it actually changes from moment to moment.

People in a depressed state are unaware of this because the depression ‘voice’ always says: ‘everything is bad, has been for ages and will be for a very long time if not forever.’ Well that’s simply not true in most cases, and there is a lot more we can do about how we feel than we perhaps realise. That’s why I called this blog a dose of positivity.

Aside from being in inspiring company, one of the fastest things I have witnessed and used myself in changing feelings from painful to pleasant is EFT, emotional freedom techniques – tapping. With EFT we literally talk ourselves calm and into a more positive state whilst tapping on energy meridians. I demonstrate in the video below a way of doing this, and there are many, many variations you can use.

Here are some more ways to feel more positive right now:

  • For the cluttered head feeling: get a piece of paper and write down all that is bothering you as though you are writing a shopping list. Give each item a number. Now go over the list and write down things you can do today to help resolve these things. Think baby steps for the bigger challenges, there is always something you can do today.
  • Make a list of ten things you feel grateful for in your life. If you are feeling fed up, dig deep.
  • Make a list of the things you have achieved in your life. It doesn’t have to be all about qualifications, it could be that you saved up for something, helped somebody, overcame something, coped with something stressful.
  • Move your body. Exercise can totally change the way you feel. It doesn’t have to be the gym, there are thousands of YouTube videos from a few minutes upwards where you don’t require fancy equipment.
  • Use affirmations: these are always said in the positive and as though they are already reality even if you don’t feel it yet. One example is ‘I am feeling better and better today with every breath I take.’ The more you repeat them, the more effective they are. They are also a good way of answering back or replacing negative thoughts.
  • ‘Weed out’ negative thought patterns that you have that lower your mood and confidence. Get to know any negative dialogue you have going on in your head so that you are in a position to do something positive about that. Write them down and then evaluate if they are accurate or if they are just an old record that refuses to change. Quite often we repeat old skewed thoughts without questioning them. If you have a lot of these work with a good counsellor or EFT Practitioner.


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