Are you familiar with the feeling of shame? Do you know where it comes from for you?
I wonder how often we can answer this question, because most of the time it just appears, unbidden.
I’ve begun to investigate some of the emotions that make me uncomfortable to see if unraveling them helps in letting them go. I’ve discovered several are insidious. They can’t always be traced back to a source. It’s also possible that they are buried so deeply that there is no thread to pull to start a healing process.
When I stop and think about ‘shame’, some obvious causes come to mind. As a child you are particularly vulnerable. You have so little power and so few defenses.
I distinctly remember having a finger pointed at me and being told that I should feel ashamed of myself. This brings up so much for me. To start with, the gesture of having a finger pointed directly at you is very threatening and is reinforced by the negative energetic force that flows through it.
And then, the implication that you ‘should’ (a word I’ve eliminated from my vocabulary because of its negative power), feel ashamed of ‘yourself’. To me, this indicates that you are supposed to obey your training and ‘know better’ and rather than having to be scolded by someone else, you should perform a self-scolding.
The idea here is that you’ve received enough scoldings that it is now your responsibility to monitor your behavior and to shame yourself.
I wonder who makes up all the rules that we feel we must abide by? And more concerning is what makes their version correct? Why are ‘they’ able to set standards of appropriate behavior, including the ones that regulate shame?
I looked up the dictionary definitions for shame, which can be used as a noun or a verb. The definitions split off in several directions, so I looked a little further and came across this.
“Shame can be defined as a feeling of embarrassment or humiliation that arises in relation to the perception of having done something dishonorable, immoral, or improper.”
Again, according to whom?
Is it not possible that you know when you’ve done something that hurt another and after thinking about, want to apologize and make amends? Are we not all capable of this on our own without having to suffer being shamed?
I believe shame is a weapon.
It is used by people to control others, to shape their responses and behavior and to force them to comply with arbitrary standards. I also believe it is used by weak people whose goals is to make themselves feel more powerful.
The purpose for shame is domination.
I believe there is great value in listening carefully to what others say, but also to what they do. Actions and words are very powerful. Paying attention provides opportunities to evaluate our own and other’s choices.
If we believe we have acted in a way that has created problems or hurt others, we can take corrective actions. That is up to us.
I don’t believe anyone ever has the right to hand another a dose of shame. And I believe we all have the right to reject it if it is given to us. Not accepting shame is a powerful tool in protecting your feelings from those who seek to control or dominate you.
I believe we all know the right course of action for ourselves and always have the ability to ask for help and guidance, when we don’t.