The Cone of Shame

There is a collar animals are forced to wear after surgeries to keep themselves from licking at wounds or tearing out the stitches that are keeping them together.  In the movie “Up” (if you haven’t seen it because you’re a grown up without children, it’s time.  You won’t be disappointed), the cone isn’t used for medical purposes.  Instead, it’s used as an instrument of shame to show the other dogs that one of their pack has done something wrong.  It’s a badge of dishonor.

My dog has had to endure a cone like this as of late.  She stares up at me with her gorgeous brown eyes dejected and scared, pleading to me as if to say, “This is ridiculous.  I’m a dog.  I’m supposed to clean my wounds. That’s the only way it will get better.”  If you’ve ever met a dachshund, you know that these animals will lick and lick and lick and lick until you force them to stop.  It’s in their DNA.  I know she’d lick her little wound until either it or she became septic.

But I’m tempted to remove her cone.  I’m curious to know if her instinct and the evolution of dog saliva with all its antiseptic properties would actually act to heal her.  With the contraption on, she yelps when she runs into anything.  Her dramatic face tells me her world has come to an end.  In all actuality, she’s creating her own misery.  She doesn’t realize the cone is temporary.  She doesn’t realize that this apparatus does not change the fact that she can see, smell, hear, jump, eat, or bark. She’s just as much a dog with it on as she is with it off.  But her life has become the cone. I’ve watched her for a few days, trudging around, afraid to move, afraid to be the lively animal she once was.

In watching her, I came to realize something…


Our cones aren’t made up of anything material.  Our cones are made up of our lack of self-worth.  Our cones are structures of fear, numbness, hatred, bigotry, ignorance, and hopelessness.  Our cones are made up of our past failures.  Our cones are made up of our willingness to place our happiness in the future.

How do I know?  Play this game with me:

  • Did you take your drive into work this morning for granted? Did you look into the sky or see the beauty of the person driving next to you?
  • Did you actively enjoy your morning shower, experiencing the warm water washing away the sleep you had in your comfortable bed with the right amount of blankets?
  • Was the first thought in your head one of dread? How many of us wake up with the same thoughts of incompetence, guilt, shame, fear, or failure bouncing around in the mental ruts in our brains? How long have you been repeating these thoughts to yourself?
  • Did you skip breakfast to ensure you work at least 60 hours? Maybe you’re driven to save up for your child’s college tuition.  Maybe you want that nest egg or perfect future home.  Maybe you’re resting your happiness on a new car.
  • Did you decide that your worth is measured by your waistline today? Have you mapped out every piece of food that enters your mouth and calculated your work-outs for maximum efficiency?  You’re driven to do better than yesterday and your “better” isn’t today.  It’s in the future.

Our invisible cones of shame encapsulate us into believing that this very moment – THIS ONE.  RIGHT NOW – isn’t good enough. We believe that the present is dispensable. We are blinded into believing that we don’t deserve to spend our hard-earned money now… we have to wait until we’re 70.  We’re inundated by a workload so heavy that the chance to continue the journey for knowledge discontinues as soon as we step out of a school.  We believe that change or growth is for the young; that we have to work in a job we hate to create a future of safety; that wealth and beauty and travel and decadence are for the chosen few that have gotten lucky.  That only hard work and the perseverance of the “American Dream” is what we should all strive for.  That being the best and being an individual is what truly matters.

“Imagine a ray of sunlight that has forgotten it is an inseparable part of the sun and deludes itself into believing it has to fight for survival and create and cling to an identity other than the sun.”  ~Eckhart Tolle~

We shame ourselves into believing our waist lines define our abilities.  We allow ourselves to choose to believe that because something is on the news or social media, it is actually important.  We allow ourselves to believe that happiness is out of reach because it is just around the bend.  We choose to believe that our past defines us and our future holds the key to our happiness.  We are so busy running the marathon we think is life that we forget to stop and SEE.

Our own defense mechanisms, our cones of shame, have created a protective shield to keep us from licking at our past hurts or seeing our future-mongering.

In her contraption, my dog believes she is incapable of jumping onto the couch.  She thinks that she’s unable to look in any direction because she can’t understand that moving her head is still an ability she has.   She is unable to traverse corners, she’s incapable of drinking water, and she refuses to smell the grass because the cone is in the way.  To her, the cone of shame keeps her from living a normal, healthy life.  It keeps her from cleaning her wounds, and from her deepest desires.

The truth is, the cone doesn’t keep her from doing anything.  SHE BELIEVES IT DOES. And because this belief is so engrained into her sense of being, she is unable to do anything she views as impossible. She doesn’t realize she’s allowed the cone to force her into living a different reality. She doesn’t realize that her belief that the cone has power has created a life of limitation.

And neither do you.


Within you lies the power of your own antiseptic properties.  You are capable of breaking the cycle.  You are capable of living any life you want.  You are capable of tending to your wounds and healing yourself.

This cycle is breakable.  It’s nothing but fabricated plastic keeping your eyes and thoughts and hopes funneled into a circle of despair and desperation. This beautiful, amazing, and infinite universe understands only in frequencies.  Your little cone is acting like a satellite dish to catch all the things that you’re creating within it.  It’s the catcher’s mitt to your imagined smallness. It is the mirror to what you’ve come to see as your life’s reflection.   Garth Stein says, “That which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny.  Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.”

This is the absolute truth.  You are the grand architect of your life.  You are the sole provider to your happiness.  The only way to see the truth is to look at those wounds that are festering outside your cone and use your own evolutionary antiseptic properties to clean them and start new.

“You attract and manifest whatever corresponds to your inner state.” ~Eckhart Tolle~

Rip that fucking cone off and look around.  Be here.  BE PRESENT.  Lick your wounds.  See to them.  Tend to them.

See the magnificence of this moment right in front of you.  Reinvent wonder.  Marvel at the astonishing world surrounding you.  Remember that you create the confines of your cone.

BREATHE.  Breathe like your sanity and your life depend on it.  Breathe as if it is the only thing you have left in this world.  Feel it.  Hear it. Depend on it to bring you back to this precious, present moment.

EVALUATE all the things you think you know about yourself.  Evaluate your belief system, its rules and its confines.  Think about all the things anyone ever told you about you.  Gather it all up and throw it into the fire of limitations and expectations.  Reinvent yourself according to YOU.

LIVE.  Live your life in your way.  Refuse to let the society you occupy, the religion you were born with, or the lies you’ve been led to believe dictate you into wearing a cone of shame.

You are a miracle. You have a purpose.  You are here, on this planet to present the gift of your life to those around you.





Need help on starting this journey?  Join me here.


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