Monthly Archives: May 2015

Healing Shame makes a difference

Part of what makes me so good at helping people heal from shame is because I have had so much of it and have worked very very hard to bring it into healing.  Well, tonight I just got another lovely payoff for hard work.

A few months ago I did the Pyromaniac Cafe. (See earlier blogs).  It was so scary to have been told my whole life that I couldn’t sing and then put myself on stage and sing two solos.  I moved through so much shame doing that.  There were times during the process I did not think I could expose myself in such a vulnerable way.  What if I was bad and people made fun of me?  I risked that because I decided I didn’t really care.  I wanted to sing and I did!

Well, I have also always wanted to be in a play.  Part of why I didn’t ever audition was because I was traveling so much I could not make the auditions.  Well, this Sunday I auditioned for a play.  Now I have to say that it was not as scary as singing 2 solos in front of over 100 people.  But, I wanted to do it and I did.  I had a blast doing the reading and it truly didn’t matter if I got a part or not.  Just letting myself do things that I have always wanted to do, no matter how I look to others is the big wonderful opportunity.  As it so happens, I was offered a part in the play and I am so excited.

I see more and more often how I benefit when I don’t let my shame keep me hidden and small.  When I look at the shame and name it and then turn in the direction of compassion, I am ALWAYS ALWAYS the better off for it.  I am freer than I have ever been to enjoy myself.  I am doing the things that I want to, no matter how silly I look or how vulnerable I am.

I am sure there will be many more opportunities to face my fears.  I only hope I can take the hand of my scared inner self and stand up with her and support her.

I am having fun !

I believe this is the payoff for really bringing shame into healing and not giving it the power to stop us in our tracks and keep us from experiencing our life in the way we secretly wish we could.

I am so grateful.

Signing off with a big grin!




Well, I do love being in Albuquerque, and I know the move was a good one.  Having said that, I am swirling in the reality of everything being new.  I moved at the holidays.  So, between the time of the year, and the honeymoon period of any change, the mixed emotions of the transition are finally just hitting me.

I feel the loss of my “work” in my private practice (despite the fact that I am still working remotely), the loss of my old friends being close at hand, the beauty of the mountains, my home in the mountains, the familiar of 27 years, and my youth.  I am sure there is more than that, but you get the idea.  More importantly, “I” get the idea.

I am re-reading, “Transitions- Making sense of Life’s Changes” by William Bridges, and “The Gift of Years” by Joan Chittister.  They are giving some framework for my process.  So, leaning into my own spiritual practice, working out and conditioning for the Triathlon in August, and writing, along with these studies has helped.  Some days I feel a comfortable sense of direction, and other days I feel completely lost.  Just the way it is right now.

I am building lovely friendships down here.  I am not sure what I am doing here.  So, instead of “doing”, I am “being”.  Not a flowing transition for me at times.

So, my challenge is to just let myself be right where I am and know that although I feel adrift in the middle of the ocean, there will be a day I will spot the shoreline again.  (from Transitions book).  I don’t know which continent I will wash up on, but I will LAND someday.

Just norming this process for myself and sharing it with you.


Red Flags

Hello and Happy rain to all of you in the Southwest in the rain!  Wow- what a blessing.

I am writing in the part of my book where I talk about Red Flags.  We can’t bring healing to our shame if we don’t know we are in it. (You may get tired of me saying this and it is so important.)  So, I am writing on “Red Flags” that you are in shame.  Each daily page that is identifying a “Red Flag” will have a little red flag on it.  (I just think I am so clever.  Ha!!)

What I have learned over the years is that many of the indicators that we are in shame seem really elusive.  Over time I have learned my own personal Big red flag indicators and it helps me move out of shame so very much faster.

So, the first one I will be writing about is:

1.  Being disconnected from what is going on around us.  This is different from a fugue, but may feel the same.

What happens is:  we either internally or externally trigger into shame and go into the shame cycle.  At that point we are in a defensive posture, feeling a level of self consciousness, are disconnected from our real feelings, and buzzing around in some sort of a powerless, self-defeating place.  We are absolutely not in the moment, but are internally absorbed in some sort of a stream of thought concerning whatever triggered us or involved in a self defeating behavior.  We are no where near connected to what is happening around us.  We are not “in our feet.”  We are gone.

When we come up for air and notice that we have been gone awhile we will have a great opportunity to:

1.  Name that we must be in shame or a shame cycle.

2.  Possibly see what internal or external thought or action triggered us.

3.  Begin to utilize the shame healing tools we are learning to move out of the shame.

I will be writing on 32 “Red Flags”.  Some you will relate to more than others.

Remember to look for the “Little Red Flag”on certain pages in my book.  It makes me smile because I see the book taking shame and I get so very happy about that!!

Peace to your heart and your thoughts!

Choose Again

In the 12 Step community there is a slogan called KISS- Keep It Simple Sweetheart!

In healing shame we are dealing with a multidimensional sense of self that can feel anything but simple to heal.  However, there is a step it is necessary to take which is Simple.

Whenever we hear the voice of shame in our head we are listening to the Voice of Shame as our teacher.  That teacher is familiar, mean, teaches a curriculum that is not true, and will never change.  I can notice and stop and choose another teacher.

The other teacher is the Teacher of Kindness and Love.  This teacher is much quieter.  This teacher teaches how to love.  This teacher knows the essence of self is innocent and pure.  This teacher will never change.  This teacher is about forgiveness.

I, personally, want to learn from the Teacher of Love.  I want to learn how to be kind to myself and kind to you.  I want to learn how to live in peace.  What I know is that it is one or the other.  I either listen to the Teacher of Shame or the Teacher of Love.

I may have to “choose again” a million times a day.  However, it is a step in the direction I want to go, each time I do it.  Works for me.

Choose again.

Choose the Teacher of Love.


I have the right to determine my own higher power

In the 12 step world the word “God” is in many of the 12 steps.  The term is meant to mean- anything one can turn to that is, at that moment, “Greater than self.”  That can mean anything from a good friend, nature, the sacred Grandmothers,  one’s Higher self, to a formal God or Buddha.  However, just like in any other area of one’s life, there is always someone that is more than happy to define what God means to them and think that is the same HP as you “should” have.  I put “should” in quotes because putting that word on self and other is a way of sending shame.  I am about healing shame, so please erase “should”.  It can always be replaced with “could” or the sentence and message can just plain be released.

It can be extremely helpful in healing shame to have some form of a “higher power- HP”.   If I am immersed in shame and talk to someone safe, I can often find my way out of the shame lie and into peace. So, that person, for that experience, could be called a “higher power.”  Another time when spiraling in shame it could help to get out and work in the garden and ground into nature.  It may help release shame. In that moment, nature is the “HP”.  If you love music, you can play some music and find your way out of shame.  The music is your “HP”.

The point is:  We all have the right to define our own “Higher Power.”  I encourage people who are in a 12 step program to know that right so that if they run up against someone who is pushing a certain God, they can just claim their right to define their own HP.  Just claiming a right can be so helpful.

We all deserve respect for our beliefs.  This respect means, non-judgment.  So whether you believe in a formal God or not, you deserve respect.  You don’t need to defend your belief.  If we get into defensiveness we are most likely already triggered into a shame cycle.  Just claim your right to define your own higher power.  This can be done out loud or in your head.



Shame- an interference

One of my friends calls shame, “the biggest interference on the planet at this time!”

I think that speaks volumes.

What does shame interfere with?

  • Knowing the essence of our being is love and peace
  • Being able to forgive self for mistakes
  • Being able to forgive others for mistakes
  • Extending love
  • Living in a peaceful space with ourselves and others
  • Knowing our rights and other peoples’ rights
  • Being in the now
  • Taking responsibility for our choices and being able to change our minds and choose again
  • Basic trust
  • Basic compassion

This is just the beginning of what shame interferes with.  However, if you look at the list I have started you will see that what shame interferes with is what is good and what would move our world in the direction of healing.


Forgiveness and shame


Forgiveness is a process not an event. In our culture we have little, if any, idea of “process.” We either have or don’t have something. I believe because of this it is hard to picture the process we often need to go through to reach forgiveness. I am going to put some steps in that can help.

  1. Identify that we are holding a grudge, resentment, judgment toward a person, or a group.
  2. Look at what that grudge, resentment, or judgment is costing us. It takes time, peace of mind, ruins relationships, causes us to avoid or isolate, makes us bitter, etc.
  3. Become more willing to forgive than to be right.
  4. Even if you don’t know how, become willing to see this differently. Anotherwords, choose peace over your need to be right and prove yourself.
  5. Notice when you are living in the judgment and be willing to turn in the direction of love. Remember, people are either expressing love or asking for love. Ask yourself what “love” would do or say to this person or group or in this situation.
  6. What this does is move one in the direction of compassion.
  7. Forgiveness is a process of reaching compassionate acceptance of self and others. I allows one to be human. It is a way of extending love.

When we reach a place where we realize what our “unforgivenesses” are costing us, we become much more willing to do something different.

Reminder: Forgiveness is a process, not an event.



Poem- Release Shame for all Time

Release Shame for all Time?                                                                                                                                            Is that possible?                                                                                                                                                               At times it rolls in quietly and ominously- like a thunderstorm that gathers and darkens and explodes- with great power and might and noise
Other times it skittles in- quick and fast- like a jackrabbit jumping
out of your headlights
Release it for good?
Then I must be aware
No matter how it comes in
Ready to notice and quietly
Turn in the other direction
Allowing it No More
If I want Peace More than Anything

Barb Tonn

Summer is here


It is Saturday and a lovely day in Albuquerque.  I still cannot believe I live here.  After 27 years in Colorado is seems so strange.

I am learning about the local plants.  It is very different here than at 7800′ in Westcliffe.  The ground, however, is not very hospitable to a vegetable garden.  So, I am building some above ground gardens for the vegetables.  I am quite excited.  I was traveling so much before that I could not do a garden.  Now I can!!

There is a plant here called, Broombrush.  It has the most amazing yellow flowers that smells like heaven.  The day we bought our house we went and purchased one to honor the occasion.  That was 2 1/2 years ago.  This morning I noticed the first of the blossoms was out.  The bush will bloom for about a month.  So, that is quite exciting for me.

For me, to get out and work in the gardens is very therapeutic, and fun.  I have a yard full of projects that will take years to complete.  Fine with me.  For those reading my blog to learn about shame and healing it, this is definitely a healing technique.  Get out, and focus on something outside yourself.  Get your hands dirty.  Smell the earth.  Shame takes us internal.  Gardening takes us out of that thought spiral that can be hard to break.  So, if you are in a shame spiral and can get outside, do something in nature.  It doesn’t have to be gardening.  But, whatever you are doing, put your focus into that project or that footstep if you are walking.  It can make a lovely difference in your day!

Back to the garden.  No, I think I will go get breakfast with my honey.

Peaceful day to you!