Here’s one thing I know about shame: IT’S NOT YOURS.

You only have it because someone gave it to you. It’s what we tend to do with shame — we pass it on. That’s what the person who belittles another is doing, he’s passing on the shame he was given. Like a hot potato, someone tossed it to him, and he’s tossing it on to someone else.

But there’s something better to do with shame than pass it to another. Send it back to where it originated. Say, for example, that you were given shame by (you were shamed by) your minister or priest. Do you send it back to him? Probably not, since, as you know, it wasn’t his to begin with. He got it from someone else before he gave it to you. You cannot know where the shame originated — every “gift” of shame you’ve been given has its origins in the murky mists of long ago. But you don’t need to know where it originated. You just need to send it back.

How do you send it back? It’s actually simple. When you get that icky feeling of shame, you recognize it for what it is, and you say: “This is not mine; it was given to me. I send it back to where it originated.” Maybe you’ll feel inclined to imagine it somehow going back — such as a smelly vapor flowing away. That’s fine, but you needn’t imagine anything. Just send it back to where it originated. Make the statement and send it back.

If you dance with shame a lot, you might find yourself sending it back many, many, many times a day, at least to begin with. The more you send it back, the less of it you have. If you’re diligent with sending it back, you’ll feel the results pretty quick. Keep it up. Send it back every time you feel it. Send it back so you don’t have to live with that icky feeling. Send it back so you don’t toss it onto someone else.