Shame. Vulnerability. Courage. Resilience.

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Imagine having experienced something so shameful, so secretive, that you wouldn’t dare share it publicly for years. Imagine if what you’re ashamed of is the antithesis of what you preach and stand for, what people look to you for guidance. How do you cope?

Shame is the emotion that can drive anyone to the depths of despair and desolation. Shame ostracizes. Shame isolates. Shame ridicules. Shame belittles. Shame is the shadow that lurks in the deepest, darkest corners of our psyche. Yet by trying to ignore its presence, by trying to push it further away it only infiltrates its way into every crack and crevice of our being. The only way to beat shame is to bring it out into the light.

Do you have the courage to be vulnerable? Are you willing to expose the underbelly of your being? Can you turn yourself inside out and share your shame with the world? It takes enormous courage to take the leap of faith and announce your faults to the most critical audience– humanity.

What will you find at the end of that leap? Yes, there will probably be those who point fingers and try to strengthen the dark shadowy lurker in the depths of your soul. Most likely, though, you will find the loving outstretched arms of good people eager to catch you, hold you up, and tend to your scrapes. In those kind arms you will find reassurance, and in their embrace you will realize that the wounds that you’ve endured now let in the light that eradicates shame. Soon you can stand unassisted, resilient in the knowledge that you can endure.

Dr. Tom Rifai has had to face the shame of binge eating and courageously shares his struggles with managing his eating disorder in “A Journey to Lifestyle Medicine.” He has wrestled with his demons and continues to do so by sharing his hard-won wisdom with others. Now it is his arms that are prepped and ready to catch those who are stumbling.

Shine the light to drive out shame. Be vulnerable. You will be lovingly supported. Then you will have the resilience to provide the strength to heal others.

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