I recently viewed a TED talk by sociologist, Brene Brown, and would like to fit what she was saying into the bisexual question of “shame”. Shame seems to be a major problem in today’s society, especially for women. Women tend to acknowledge it and deal with it; however, men tend to bury it. When it inevitably pops up again during a weak moment, or when we have to face a major issue, we crash. In addition, I believe shame has specific implications for bisexual men. In my own case, and with many of the men I have interviewed, the number one hurdle to overcome is the way we feel about ourselves and our sexuality. To many of us, our bisexuality is a source of feelings of failure with our wives and children and especially with ourselves. We try to cope with it or deny it until our double lives are discovered and then shame destroys us.
To understand shame and its effect on our lives, let’s take our eyes off the negative and focus on the positive. The opposite of shame is a feeling of worthiness and the path to worthiness is through self-love. The key then is to go beyond shame, step over it, and rewire our neural pathways. If we bypass the shame from the emotion center, we can then reconnect our bisexuality to the feeling of self-love and self-acceptance in the pleasure center. By consciously doing this, we learn ‘to feel good’ about ourselves. How do we do that? How can we overcome a lifetime of guilt, regret and shame?
The answer is ‘whole’heartedness and the first step to wholeheartedness is courage. We have an opportunity to make a conscious decision to take on our situation, face the issues, and be determined to do what we believe is right for ourselves and for others. We can choose to realize that we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. We can see that for the most part we have done the best we could under the circumstances. We can recognize the courage we have shown in staying in the game as long as we have with the hand we have been dealt. We can also face the fact that we could have done better, that sometimes we have taken the easy way out and willfully made “mistakes”; however, once we have acknowledged this to ourselves, we can let our minds know that it is okay to make mistakes. If we are willing to say we are sorry to ourselves and others, we can give our souls an opportunity to evolve from guilt to self-acceptance. We can then fix what we can, accept what we cannot, and then move on regardless of the consequences.
In this process we arrive at the second step – we can learn to be compassionate with ourselves. Our primary biological and psychological responsibility is to provide for our own well-being. After a long established pattern of self-hate and self-loathing, this is sometimes difficult to do. However, we have the power to choose to forget the past and live in the present. When shame arises from the past we simply face it, give ourselves permission to make mistakes, seek out the truths involved, and then renew the commitment to love our self unconditionally. This requires a meditative approach. We simply wait mindfully until the “feeling” comes, usually mixed with tears of sadness and joy. As we go through this process, we rewire the negative thoughts with positive feelings.
The third step is authenticity, a willingness to get to know our self and act from our own best insights. So let’s do some soul searching, stop pretending to be something we are not, acknowledge our bisexuality, recognize that it is a gift, not a curse, realize that our bisexuality is based on a dual soul that embraces the masculine and feminine sides, focus on the gifts, not the faults, and then be true to our real self in what we think, say, and do.
Once we have conquered shame, we can then be vulnerable, reach out, initiate what we are expecting others to do first, and give what we want to receive. Now, we can extend our love to others. We can deliberately seek connection with both males and females for the purpose of friendship and intimate love. We can search for those special connections that lead to intimate relationships. As we see ourselves through the eyes of another, we can be reassured that we are indeed lovable.