Dealing with Guilt and Shame

Critical Mind Work ©subhan schenker 2011

Guilt is: I made a mistake.

Shame is: I AM a mistake.

Sanity is: That didn’t work. Now what…?

These three phases deal with the presence (or absence) of the critical mind or judge, and how that affects us.
The first is the critic beating up the child-like part of us inside for doing something that the critic brands as a “mistake.” The child believes the critic and accepts the fact that he or she has done something “wrong.” The guilt that this summons is that we are not worthy, lovable or competent because we have done something that a worthy, lovable, competent person would NOT do. This guilt hangs like a cloud, squeezing out any joy that might be there.
The second is the more intense feeling we call shame. The critic has not only told us that we’ve done something wrong, but that our very nature is wrong! The child within buys this judgment and feels that his very essence is wrong!
In neither of these is the critic challenged. Whatever the critic says is believed by the child.
So the problem then becomes “me” – as I identify with this child part of the mind.
A healing way of experiencing this internal dialogue between the critic and the child is to understand that the root of the problem is the critical mind and its judgments, not the child.
(One tool that can help us here is the Work of Byron Katie. Using her 4 Questions, we can challenge the Critic’s thoughts and begin to understand that its truth falls apart under


Once we understand that the critic is the issue, and we challenge the critic’s thoughts, then we can move into the third phase, which is devoid of criticism and is seen in the light of exactly what happened: I did something…it didn’t work…now what? No guilt. No shame. No anxiety or worry. And very importantly, no blame directed at the child! Then we can continue the adventure of experimenting in real time and discovering what works – and what doesn’t – without fear, shame or guilt!


Subhan regularly presents a workshop called “The 5 Steps to Freedom from the Inner Critic.” Here is a flier about the workshop. Check the scheduling by writing him at


The Journey to Unconditional Love…

Perhaps the most impossible space for us to imagine is what is called “unconditional love.” That’s because it isn’t a space; it isn’t “something;” and it certainly isn’t the “love” that we know. Yet the mystics have tried to express it in words, so that we, at least, have an intellectual understanding that it is real and resides in our very nature. We are oblivious to it because we have identified with a mind that has no connection with it. So our journey in life is to return to what we already are, which is beyond all thought. If nothing else, that should intrigue some part of us, right?! Love…

How a Picnic Can Teach Us Something of Value!

Almost everyone loves a picnic! It is a time to enjoy good friends, good food and being outdoors! Although it requires preparation and planning, these actions are usually done with a feeling of levity – even adventure and excitement! It is something that can be savored. If anything, there is certainly a lack of seriousness in it all.
So why not start living life in the spirit of a picnic?!! Why not take this spirit and create our lives around it! Then we can actualize this UNDERSTANDING: that things we normally do routinely and robotically CAN be done with more relaxation, more awareness, more levity, more adventure AND more joyfully – just by bringing a different spirit and energy to what we are doing! Imagine that! Love…

Your Significant Other: Eye Candy or Soul Food?

The mind is FULL of judgments. And, once it clears the area of YOU and everything that you should and shouldn’t be, it goes to the other and is FULL of judgments about them. Just listen to the mind!

Soon you will recognize how many judgments it has about others based on their physical appearance. And those judgments rule our lives. So much so, that we fail to recognize a deeper sense of beauty in people. It’s only when we give ourselves time to open to and explore the other, that we can realize the significance and worthiness of other people. And THAT comes from recognizing our OWN beauty.

Without that recognition, we will always choose who we allow into our lives on superficial and crass assumptions. Love…

What do we actually see when we look at the world?

We are looking at the world through thoughts and comparisons and judgments…and misunderstandings. That is because we are looking through the contents of the mind which was borrowed from others – who in turn borrowed it from others too! So, much that we experience is distorted by these thoughts, to the point where we cannot see what is real behind them! That’s why the ‘work’ for each of us is to invite a distance from these thoughts, and that is the function of meditation. Have your mind, but find ways to step back from it. And soon, you will see ‘reality’ as it REALLY is! (Hint: Change your view of this photo!) Love…

Waking up from the Dream of a Mind-created Reality!

As we wake up from the dream of a mind-created reality, we often first feel out of sorts with others who we perceive are still fast asleep. But the more the old dream is exposed as fiction, the more compassion can be accessed – first for ourselves, and then for all the others. We are all in the same boat, trying to find our way back home, to our essential nature. But the mind dreams can be substantial barriers. So the priority becomes: spotting the cracks and inviting experiences that help us in waking up to new visions and understandings. In other words, it is extremely helpful to put ourselves in the way of new learning experiences! Maybe find one for yourself today! Love…


What Stops You From Making Needed Changes in Your Life?

Changes that we make which truly enhance the quality of our lives often only come after we have had enough of what we DON’T want. But this is tricky business because we usually find ways to divert ourselves from having enough with: sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, facebook, sports, movies, TV, sleep, work, etc. So we pine for quality of life, but we rarely take the steps necessary to get there.
If we REALLY want to change our lives, we have to STOP diverting ourselves from the pain and anxiety of our lives. The diversion only supports the pain in the long run. And having enough gives us the energy and passion to make changes that help transform our lives into greater satisfaction, greater creativity, and a greater understanding of how to stop creating hell and start creating heaven! Love…

Subhan Schenker's photo.


How to Find Your Way ‘Home’!

A cryptic message from Rumi deciphered!
“Carry your baggage….” Our baggage is the contents of the mind – the stories, problems, worries, fears, beliefs, and judgments;
“towards silence….” Move IN, towards your inner stillness, silence, peace;
“when you seek the signs of the Way.” When you are lost, confused, ill at ease, and you want to find your way back to your essential nature – AND you recognize that THIS is your path!
Just remember this; it is the treasure map to BEING! Love…

Subhan Schenker's photo.

What is a Crime?

What is a crime? The REAL answer is: ANYTHING that a government or a court decides it is! There is no inherent thing called a “crime.” In one jurisdiction something may be a “crime,” while in another it is not. So, it’s interesting to note that Italy’s highest court just ruled that when small amounts of food are taken in desperate need, it is not a crime. If we stop looking at the act, and using punishment to stop it, we can begin to look with eyes that do not judge, but seek to understand. Certainly this is only a distant possibility now. But, as we begin to understand OURSELVES and our MOTIVATIONS with compassion, we can extend that gift to others. And what we may discover is that we are ALL buddhas, just pretending not to be! Love…

Subhan Schenker's photo.

What People Affect You?

The more people in your life that affect what you do and how you do it, the more comparison, fear, worry, anxiety and pain you will feel. It’s that simple. So take a moment and write down who they are. And don’t forget all the people who are tangentially in your life and how THEY affect what you do! That includes your neighbors, your children’s friends and their parents, your fellow employees, etc.. You may be surprised at the sheer number of people involved. Doesn’t it feel like time to explore this phenomenon? Stay tuned! Love…

Subhan Schenker's photo.