§ We came to this world to LIVE OUT LOUD!

I’m Uncomfortable with My Privilege

Jun 23, 2020

I’ve been feeling a nagging sensation in the pit of my stomach lately, which I recognize as shame.

I hate feeling shame. It makes me want to get small and hide. Keep my thoughts to myself. Become self-protective. Play down my achievements.
Shame tells me that I’m unworthy of the life that I have created for myself.
Shame tells me that I should downplay that I have created a great life while others are struggling.

I also know that my shame is a huge gift.

An opportunity to look at all the places where I have not yet claimed the magnificence of who I am and who I can be. To transform any limiting beliefs I still have about myself and the world.

Especially now, a time in history when it’s easy to have limiting beliefs.

It’s also a time of great change as we begin to realize at a deeper level just how unjust the society we have created is and work to change it.

My shame has to do with my economic privilege. The privilege I have as a result of other HUGE privileges – being born into a race which is not discriminated against and into a family that values education.

My family and I emigrated from Kiev, Ukraine when I was 8 years old. Even though my parents were highly educated, we left the Soviet Union with nothing and had to start over from scratch in the United States. My first bed was a mattress on the floor which my parents found in the trash behind our cockroach infested apartment building in Chicago. I slept on it for two years until there was enough money to buy a new one.

My parents worked non-stop to achieve the American dream – a condo in the suburbs which was upgraded to a house with a yard a couple of years later. Two cars. Annual one week vacations which progressed from camping in the Midwest to resorts in Mexico and later, to trips to Europe. They saved as much as they could to put me through the best school I could get into – the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League University.

My education gave me the opportunity to advance economically in life. To meet people from backgrounds very different from mine. To learn that I can be anything I want to be. To turn my dreams into reality.

I have long compared my American immigrant experience to that of people I’ve met whose skin color is different from mine. Their parents had to struggle a lot more to achieve what my parents were able to achieve. Most were never able to get there.

I lost my foreign accent quickly and was able to blend with the majority and thus reap the rewards that come with it. My darker skinned friends were always asked “where are you from?” even though they too spoke English without a foreign accent.

Over the years, I’ve been uncomfortable about my privilege. Like I was not fully deserving of my version of the American Dream.

Not that it was always easy. I had to overcome a lot of childhood trauma – sexual, emotional and physical abuse – to make the most of my possibilities.

As a teenager, I had to prioritize homework and studying for exams before drinking myself into oblivion to not feel the pain that was inside me.
In my 20’s, I had to choose to focus therapy and healing to move past the generational trauma and the dysfunctional habits I made my own. I had to leave behind many friends who preferred to focus on partying.

I have had to continue this work every day since. To prioritize feeling good in my body, mind and spirit through exercise, meditation and energetic release work every single day. Skipping more than a day or two isn’t an option for me. Unless I want my anxiety will return and run my life.

And yet, THIS IS ALL PRIVILEGE. To have the financial means for pay for therapy and healing modalities. To have the time to take care of my body, mind and spirit.
I have always been grateful for this privilege. Yet as racial injustice comes to the forefront in the United States and around the world, as children starve in Yemen while most of us don’t even know about it, I feel ashamed of my privilege.
And then I realize that the shame that I feel from my privilege is the same shame I have felt at other junctures in my life:

When I got a job at the World Bank straight out of University, traveling the world on a five-star budget and meeting with captains of industry, working on multi-million-dollar economic development projects. My parents could only dream about a job like this.


When I left that job to travel the world with a backpack in my twenties and returned connected to my desire to study psychology and embark on a different career path. I gave up all the trappings of conventional success and took a job running a program for homeless women in Washington DC who were struggling with addiction.


When I prioritized self-care and spending time with my kids while working at my coaching business part-time. After my parents worked so hard for me to get that education, how could I throw away all of my professional opportunities?


When Facebook “friends” from high school commented negatively on the life I created for myself. “Who do you think you are to have so much abundance in your life? A happy family, travel, work that you love, time to enjoy it?” is what I heard in their comments.

My shame is the shame we all feel when we think that we are not worthy of abundance. We are not worthy of our dream life.

I feel the shame and I sit with it.

I allow it to show me the places I need to heal and transform inside myself.

To claim my worthiness. To celebrate my achievements. To feel gratitude for all the bounty of my life.

Once the shame is transformed, I feel uncomfortable.
Discomfort is more tolerable. It signals the need for growth.
I stand in my discomfort and look at my privilege.
I feel the call to do more.
More than donating funds to organizations which are fighting racism or raising funds for people struggling in Yemen or Nigeria or Colombia.
More than signing petitions and protesting.
More than learning about racial inequality and talking about it with family and friends.
More than giving scholarships to my courses and free coaching sessions to women from around the world.
I don’t know what that more is… but I trust that it will reveal itself as I sit with it.
The shame has given me the gifts of healing myself and now the gift of wanting to heal our planet at a deeper level.
What about you? How are you feeling about all that is transpiring in our world?

You know I love hearing from you so feel free to leave a comment below or email me at natalie@nataliematushenko.com.


Happy Tuesday!




P.S. I’ve received such amazing feedback about my Wisdom Wednesday series that I’m expanding it even more!

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