When I was in treatment at The Meadows in 1991, I learned for the first time about shameful and shameless behaviours. I’ve come to understand since then that shame is an indicator–like the other emotions (fear, pain, loneliness, anger, guilt and joy). When I do not pay attention, when I am thoughtless and inconsiderate toward others and the impact of my behaviour on others, then I have crossed the boundary from humility to being the all mighty one, an act of being ‘as G_d.’
When looking again at the sacred story of the first man and woman, shame became a part of human relationships when a spiritual law was crossed, when they desired to become as G_d. Our greatest shortcomings are when we move without considering the sacred teachings, when we move without considering our neighbour, when we move without considering ourselves. Spiritual laws exist to guide us and assist us in becoming compassionate, understanding, wise beings–help us to love.
As Indigenous people, we have cleansing ways that have been handed down from the beginning of time. There is an understanding that we make mistakes, that we offend ourselves and others and cleansing ways are to restore balance in self and in relationship with others. May we learn from our shortcomings and experience transformation from shame to understanding.