The other day, I was spending time with my 2 year old baby niece. She had found a quarter and was very happy, but all I could think of was her possibly choking off of it, so I took it from her. Her little face broke down into a frown and she tapped me (hit me gently) and went off by herself with her arms folded. Now, please know that with my upbringing, you don’t hit and you certainly don’t hit adults. I had a choice. I wanted her to know that hitting was unacceptable and secretly I wanted her to know that hitting “Me” or any other adult who loves and cares for her was especially “wrong”. But I really didn’t want to shame my baby niece. I didn’t want her to relate to herself or her feelings as “wrong.” Instead, I wanted her to know that feeling upset was okay and I wanted to teach her how to deal with those feelings.
I asked her if she was sad that I had taken the money from her. I told her that I took it because I didn’t want her to hurt herself with it.
I told her that she can use her words when she’s feeling upset and I asked her if she would like me to give her something else instead. She said ok and gave her a big hug and a single dollar bill. Her eyes got bright and she was so happy! Everybody won...
Growing up, I often didn’t receive such acceptance and validation of my feelings and so as an adult I’ve still carried a lot of shame around them. I have had to teach myself that experiencing the full range of my emotions is ok and healthy. The time I spent as a daycare provider/assistant teacher at Nsoroma taught me a lot through learning to interact with children in a healthy loving way. Mama Kenyatta, The school’s founder and Principal, is known for her gentle approach to teaching and relating with children, so I learned a lot from her what she modeled. This helped me to see how rough my own upbringing was on my sensitive soul (though I was blessed to have Grandparents around who were my gentle Guardians 😉) and how I wanted to offer myself a sweeter, more accepting world.
My research into Real Love and Unconditional Love Technology along with Astrology and Traditional African Spirituality have also been invaluable along this path. I’m employing new practices and habits of thought as I am actively deactivating the “shame gene” from my bloodline. Everybody wins 💛
Shame is a learned behavior. As we activate unconditional love, kindness and acceptance, we turn this “gene” off. As people of color many of us were not given much acceptance with respect to our “negative” emotions. We were blamed, shamed, guilted and even punished for certain displays of emotion, while the adults in our midst were allowed the full range of theirs. Such is the case in most corporate environments; the more authority a person has, the more freedom to express anger and dissatisfaction. Obviously this has been the case with toxic patriarchy. However, out of balance women and mothers have practiced this as well. What’s been your experience?
It is my hope that we as grown ups and parents will take on a more loving and gentle approach as we relate to ourselves and especially the vulnerable among us.