Shame and the Waning Moon
by Sarah Gottesdiener·
Welcome to the dark moon of this month.
The waning moon lasts approximately one week, between the last quarter moon and the Dark Moon. The projected light of the moon gets smaller and smaller, becomes a crescent, then disappears. Emotionally, it is a good time to check in with feelings, to take a rest, and slow down.
Energetically, it is a preferred to time to deal with lingering energies and release them. Release, release, release. Go through, get rid of, incinerate and compost. Through journalling, baths, meditations, and forgiveness work. Through throwing out old objects, burning, and clearing. By wrapping up, organizing, and tying up loose ends, energetic, or practically. Go into the darkness and linger there, stroking the painful last tendrils of dreams dashed, disappointments dwindling, and the residue of hurt, pain, sadness and fear.
Think of it as the perfect opportunity to clear out, and create a brand new stage for fresh wishes and dreams that you want to focus on for the New Moon. Before we plant new seeds, we have to go through the old dirt, clear out the weeds, break it up, compost and till. The Waning Moon is a perfect time to focus on behaviors and emotions one would like to examine, go deep into, and change.
The only way out is through.
I've been feeling so awesome since the New Year, however this past Full Moon I was inexplicably hit again with old feelings of shame and anxiety around the 12 Moons Workbook I had put out. I'm a late bloomer. Everything I do takes time and comes later. A lot of this has to do with being afraid to put myself out there, to have eyes on me. I'm very introspective and shy, I don't naturally like being the center of attention. I'm actively working on changing this, as a lot of my work involves having to do this. If I am completely honest though, a lot of my trepidation between being seen has to do around deeply entrenched feelings I have about making mistakes, and being shamed and humiliated by others as a result.
In some ways, this workbook I wrote is giving me (albeit uncomfortably) the opportunity to work through these feelings and heal.
Because I had no expectations about reception with this project, I acted as though no one would ever read it. I wrote it so incredibly fast, I designed it in a flash, I barely remember doing so. While this is a throw-back to my zine-era 90's style upbringing, it is definitely opposed to my "adult", perfectionist, designer, Type-A tendencies. Perhaps in some ways those analytic, exhaustive qualities had to be circumvented in order for me to just get the workbook out into the world. Any way you try to explain it or slice it, these is a deeply flawed product—one that I can barely look it as I open a page, as all I see are mistakes.
I knew there were typos, and grammatical errors. I knew that there were repeats of paragraphs due to the 3 days I gave myself to design a 130 page book. There were even numerous astrological inaccuracies of moon phases due to a faulty and inaccurate Moon Phase App that was the main source of my information (North American users beware, do not use the "Moon Phase" Application for iPhones, if you are wanting accurate astrological information—my hunch is it was designed for a UTC time-zone). I knew all these things, after revisiting the book after the first pressing, unfortunately it was too late in the printing to change it. I got much feedback from the public about it! My excitement at creating a resource and following through on a creative urge, and a spiritual calling time and time again got diminished. I truly felt ashamed about what I had done, and in fact couldn't even deal with getting compliments about it as I was just focusing on all that was wrong with it.
At one point, during the day after last month's Full Moon, spiraling out after a full-blown-central-nervous-system-affected-anxiety-attack I even wondered: should I keep doing this?
After spending a couple of days dealing with my familiar old frenemy Mister Shame, of course the answer was yes. But I knew that this feeling would come up again, it's only end goal to make me stop. To shrink in, go back to saying "One day, I'll do this thing. When I'm ready, I'll begin…" etc. etc. And that is NOT who I am right now, those voices and words don't even belong to me. They belong to the people that that verbally abused me since I was a child. To all the messages in our society that try to tamp us down and steal our light. How can we not take this in? We can work through it and out. We can resist psychic death.
Below are some suggestions with dealing with shame, guilt, and negative self-talk. This is an ongoing process. Uncomfortable feelings will continue to bubble up in our lives, that is a given. Doesn't matter how namaste you are or how much you meditate! It is how we deal with these feelings and move forward with our best selves that determine our goals and reflect our higher selves.
Some Tips for Dealing With Shame
1.) Gain Perspective
This time around with my shame spiral, I knew I had to gain perspective on my feelings and fast. One way that really helps to bring me out of self-destructive naval-gazing is talking to friends about times they've gotten bad reviews or felt shame, guilt, or blame. Hearing about other people's embarrassing moments is affirming as it is a reminder that everyone makes mistakes and still live! One friend shared about a career-affecting negative record review. Another, about terrible haters on the internet. While these episodes hurt my loved ones, it was in the past. It was over. They had moved on, and were still being inspiring creators whom I adored.
People live through it, they go on to do more things, other projects and experiences. Anyone who does anything on a public level has to deal with larger scrutiny and with criticism and even hurtful allegations. Partially I had to realize that this was just going to be a constant outcome of putting my work into the world, and to develop a thicker skin. As long as my friends and family love and care about me, why should it matter what a stranger thinks?
Another perspective-shaping realization I had was that honestly, no one is going to care more than you. Quite honestly, in the cases of public shaming and friends that I talked to, I literally had no idea that the poor reviews/internet hating was happening. Most people are just so wrapped up in their own lives, their own drama, their own issues. To be blunt: in general, most people just really don't care about your shit. And if someone cares so much they need to cut you down publicly or discount you, then that is not someone I am interested in having on my team.
2.) Treat Yourself With Love
Shame is going to flare up and tell you that you are unworthy of love. Its a tactic that's been used by the patriarchy, capitalism, and oppressive groups for control, and geez it is a successful one. Be loving and kind with yourself when you are dealing with shame. Treat yourself as you would treat a very important friend. It is most certainly ok to process feelings but when it gets to self-flagellation mode it is time to check yourself. Douse yourself with loving actions and talk to yourself with kid gloves. Shame is a very deep-rooted and primal emotion. Write down your feelings and then revisit them. Ask yourself : "Is this mine?" Think about where the emotions are actually coming from. Chances are, these words aren't even your own. That makes it easier to set them free and release them.
Another way to support loving kindness actions towards yourself is to read encouraging messages people have written to you, to revisit meaningful accomplishments you've had, and to ask trusted friends for positive feedback. I reached out to a couple of trusted friends to express my shame around my imperfections and got so much glowing love in return, that really helped me through, up and out of my internalized spiraling. Then I took it very easy, got a lot of rest and relaxed.
2.) Take Accountability, if needed
If you make a mistake on the job or in life, it is upmost importance that you take accountability, and apologize directly and clearly.
I feel the need to apologize for the errors and typos in the book. I've apologized publicly via this website and Instagram. When someone reaches out to me personally I apologize to them in kind.
The lessons have been learned. I'm hiring a copyeditor, 2 different people are reading the manuscript before I put it into print. Other voices are being commissioned to take part in writing it, so that there are other perspectives. I'm fact-checking the fuck out the next version and all the other versions after that. That's my version of taking accountability to others for any mistakes made.
Obviously so much shame is centered around internal feelings or ingrained negative self-talk. This might be rooted in childhood trauma or coping mechanisms we developed a long time ago for survival purposes that no longer work. Those are the behaviors and patterns that can acknowledged and put to rest during the waning moon period.
Remember that this is all a process, a becoming. You aren't going to get it right the first time, or maybe even the 17th time. Through practicing, becoming more conscious, and putting into place action steps that will help you become more fine-tuned and closer to where you want to be. Perfection shouldn't be the goal, maybe think about ease and resonance, meaning and beauty instead.
A goal of having a life that will not contain any hard parts is ridiculous, and not one I would encourage anyone to strive towards. That means you aren't striving, aren't growing, aren't changing, aren't evolving. Rather think about success as the ways in which you transform the difficult parts, even live with them like friendly ghosts, so that they are part of you in the very same ways that the tulips in a glass jar, or the slightly creaking bathroom door are a part of your reality. There, to be observed, part of your consciousness for better or worse, but just that, passing through, not something you internalize.
You can also talk to your feelings. You can say "I see you, Mr. Shame. You're scared and you are wanting to be consoled. I can't give you energy anymore. I love you and I forgive you. I'm transforming your pain into action and kindness."
3.) See the Good, and Learn the Lessons
There were so many things about creating an imperfect product. I got to experience public negative feedback, and work directly with a raw trigger. For every negative comment, I got messages from women all over the place thanking me for putting this effort out into the world. When I apologized for all of the mistakes, they said they didn't care, or it even made them like the book more, because it felt so personal. Because one of my core messages is to empower women through art/design and spirituality, these messages inspired me to keep going.
This process also inspired me to kick it up a notch professionally. Taking myself seriously feels like an important lesson put into place.
Learn your lessons, and feel grateful for paying attention to what they are and acting on them. Seeing the good gives me the resolve to keep going.
4.) Move on
Once you've processed, it is time to move on. To me, moving on means that I am looking to the future and focusing on the present. I've distanced myself enough from my mistakes that the freeze inducing feelings have stopped.
Moving on could also include doing a forgiveness meditation or ritual. I like to burn what I want to let go of, which is what I plan on doing during this dark moon tonight. You could picture the negative energy and shame moving out of your body through visualization and breath work, and then replace it with a positive feeling, a beautiful color, or a magnetic symbol.
At a certain point you must forgive yourself, let the past be over with and keep going. The quality of energy that creates exciting fresh starts is a completely different chariot then the train wreck that a shame spiral encapsulates.
What is something you want to be doing, but are blocked by fear and shame?
What do you need to do to clear out those sabotaging feelings?
Below is a suggestion for a Moving Unwanted Feelings Spell / Ritual
You need: a pen, a paper, a candle (black, white, or your favorite color), and an apple
Any protection stones like onyx, tourmaline, or amethyst
Set up your altar, cast your circle, and relax.
Inscribe your candle with what feeling (s) are blocking you.
Write down what it is you want gone, and get very specific about what the feelings or sensations feel in your body, in your mind. Make note of any negative self-talk you have noticed "I'm ugly, I'm worthless" etc., and write that down as well.
Light the candle. Use the flame to burn the piece or pieces of paper. Visualize those unwanted energies moving away.
Once all the pieces of paper have been burned all the way and are gone, visualize the energies moving out of your body entirely.
Picture what positive feelings you wish to have happen. As you do so, start eating the apple. The whole time you are consuming the apple, think about how sweet and crisp your new movement will be. Imagine your whole body being filled up with positive energy.
Burn your candle until has burned all the way down. You may also want to shatter the glass, bury it, or cover it in salt before throwing away.
Take the apple core and seeds and place it in a calm or peaceful place in nature.
A recent book I read about dealing with failure is Brene Brown's "Rising Strong", that might help.
Also, "Women Who Run With the Wolves", by Clarissa Pinkola Estes has some amazing passages about this topic.
And lastly, with good timing, I just listened to a great episode on shame and body image on Rise and Resist podcast- you can find it here.