Before we can drop shame (or at least lessen it), we must understand what it is. So what is shame? Brene Brown calls shame something about me that if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection.” The dictionary calls it “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” So let’s break that definition down … what if we can lessen the pain, humiliation and distress by really getting and believing that our behavior wasn’t necessarily wrong or even foolish? Let’s simply accept decisions we have made and forgive ourselves. Ever heard the Serenity Prayer?

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Put the whole “getting herpes” thing back into context. Put it back into perspective of your whole life and all the decisions you have ever made. If getting herpes was the result of one decision you made to sleep with that one person, then let it be just that. A single decision amongst many. Would you have similar humiliation about other decisions in your life? Would the shame be just as intense? If you’re deep in debt, would the decision to spend money on that credit card of yours feel the same as the decision to have sex?

The secret is the perceived negative aspects of herpes don’t change your identity unless you actually identify with them. Identifying with certain things and not with others is in under our own power. Just like a negative comment only affects someone who agrees with it (For example, a comment like “Your green hair is disgusting!” probably wouldn’t affect someone who didn’t have a green hair on their head.)

Human nature unfortunately gives us the thought that there must be something inherently wrong with us. And herpes seems to be that thing that pushes that feeling over the edge, that somehow proves that to be true. Well, it’s not true. There’s nothing wrong with you. And it’s time you believe that.

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