Last night I was lucky enough to attend the live broadcast of Oprah's Lifeclass® on OWN. It was a really exciting experience...and we had the opportunity to Reframe Shame™.
While her previous show was fun when it came to celebrities and Favorite Things, Oprah also produced some amazing episodes about being a better person and getting to a better place in one's life. I always appreciated episodes that helped to bring people to a new level of thought, "reframing" the way we typically think about something to get to that ah-ha moment.
The Lifeclasses focus on getting one to a higher level of self-awareness and finding that 'ah-ha' moment each day! And Friday's live broadcast allows Oprah to interact with viewers on their moments. Life Class even touches upon the issue of shame.
In this episode, a woman was with her so-called 'man of her dreams.' Unfortunately for her, he found love with her cousin, the cousin who had encouraged them to begin dating. Four years after the break-up, she has not been able to move past the break-up and betrayal. I believe she is stuck in a feeling of shame and voiced my opinion (at the 22:15 and 27:15 marks)
There's a lot of shame associated with being "dumped," and being dumped for your cousin...even worse. Shame of betrayal.
As I mentioned in the show, this woman needs to Reframe the Shame™. Shame, as we've previously discussed, can be an isolating emotion, one that keeps you stuck in a very negative place.
For her (and those of you who may be in a similar place), my suggestion is to reframe this differently. This man found something he believed was a better fit for him. Throughout our lives, we have all experienced this. We may have thought we were into someone, but weeks into a relationship, we decided it was no longer a match. Similarly, years may go by in a relationship and one day on or both partners may realize they have grown apart.
This is OKAY! It's natural, even. Instead of taking on the standard thoughts that this "end" is somehow devastating, it's healthier to remember that these are normal events in life. Everyone grows every single day and sometimes two people together (in a relationship) don't grow in the same way or the same direction.
I have several friends/couples who began madly in love (or lust) and had seemingly excellent relationships, but as they grew older, they also grew apart. This didn't diminish the love they had for each other, but they no longer felt it was the right relationship for them at that point in their lives. Being able to accept this as just a normal process helped them to not "end" their relationships, but change them. Instead of remaining boyfriend/girlfriend (or wife/husband or, in some cases, boyfriend/boyfriend), they moved into a "friend" realm; they still have a relationship. And these friendships have become some of the strongest, most meaningful and long-lasting relationships of their lives.
Think about it, what is the alternative to this? Do you force someone to stay with you because you still love them even if they may not be in love with you anymore? We need not look to far to see how that ends.
The example of John Edwards and his affair is a great way to illustrate this. John Edwards cheated on his wife, Elizabeth. Once caught, he expressed remorse and his continued love for his wife. Many balked at this idea that he could still love her. But think about it, there's no doubt that after all those years together and all that they experienced together, from bearing children to the death of one child, cancer and more, that love still remained on both sides of that relationship. However, it's possible that John was no longer "in love" with Elizabeth.
It may sound like semantics, but I'm sure you can relate to this feeling. You can love someone deeply, but may not feel 'in love' with them enough to want the intimacy anymore of a relationship.
Often we feel shame in ending a relationship, especially one in which there are children involved or a traditional marriage based on religious views. This shame prevents us from simply expressing the truth to that loved one and instead drives us into isolation and possibly behavior that will ultimately hurt that loved one, as in the case of John Edwards.
Quite possibly, had he maturely stated to Elizabeth that he loved her deeply and still cared about her, but was no longer in love with her, I'm sure she would have accepted this. It may have hurt (rejection always does), but it could have been a much less negative experience for both of them. My guess is that this was the case for Al Gore and his wife. Notice they did not have ANY of the public negativity
around them like John Edwards.
I am THRILLED that Oprah and Iyanla loved my "Reframe Shame" idea, so much so that Oprah repeated it a few times. Although she incorrectly associated it to Iyanla, I'm sure she appreciates that it was my comment and has been a part of what I've been advocating here for all of you. Hugs Mama O!
Tune into Oprah's Lifeclass everyday on OWN at 8pm Est/7pm Central. The live class discussion is only on Friday immediately following Lifeclass. If you don't get OWN locally, you can still watch in on her site at Oprah.com.