For the past few months, I have been participating in Dr. Caroline Leaf’s 21-Day Brain Detox online program. I’ve had some amazing successes in replacing harmful internal messages I’ve been believing for years with truthful thoughts. The standard of truth, for me personally, is the Word of God. Do my thoughts agree with what God’s thoughts are about me?
One of these internal messages regarded shame, which led to a deep-seated belief that I was unworthy: Unworthy to be loved; unworthy to be treated well; and unworthy of respect. I am confident that I am not alone in this and many people face this exact battle.
Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly, defines shame (I am paraphrasing) as the belief we are flawed and unworthy of love and belonging, due to something we have done, failed to do, or experienced which would make us feel unworthy of connection.
I will be giving an example of how I have been working on defeating this shameful foe, but I want to explain a few things first.
Although Dr. Leaf initially claims 21 days are all one needs to begin dissolving toxic thoughts, but this is only a beginning. In order for the new healthy thought to become your default mode – and into the subconscious – it takes three cycles of 21 days, for a total of 42 days.
This daily process involves introspection and some journaling. It it designed to take only 7-10 minutes a day, but I often spend much more time than this. At the conclusion of the session you design what she refers to as an active reach. This active reach should not be time consuming and be meaningful to you. Determine an image to visualize and say the new thought out loud simultaneously. At least 7 times throughout the day repeat this active reach. The goal is to displace the unhealthy thought, placing the healthy thought in its place.
I have almost always paired my visual image with a scripture from the Bible. It is completely personal and it is important to find what works for you. There were times I sang a few lyrics from a song that meant something to me with a scripture. One very critical element to this process is to include God. Dr. Leaf begins each day with three minutes of thanking, worshipping, and praising God.
The following is an excerpt from my journal and an example of the process:
Shame- my whole life has been wrapped around shame. Like a pig-in-a-blanket – shame, shame, shame, more shame. People who “love” me were not there for me – therefore, I must have done something to deserve that. This is so engrained within me that the shame is inherent in my thoughts and subconscious. My therapist said that the definition of shame is the same as saying who we are. Guilt and shame lead to thoughts of un-deservedness and has been the driving force behind my entire life.
Active Reach: Today I choose to believe that I have value. I visualize I am center stage in the spotlight. God spotlights me because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. God does not spotlight quilt and shame. “Grace, mixed with faith and love, poured over me and into me – and all because of Jesus . . . now he shows me off . . .” I Timothy 1:14-16 MSG