Shame has been an emotion I wasn’t even aware of till almost my thirties. I had no vocabulary for it. When I learned about it, an entire new Pandora’s box opened up. I realized that I had definitely felt shame earlier albeit briefly. I would quickly suppress it and it would manifest as anger, sulking or hate and in various other ways. However learning the vocabulary of shame was transformational. I could feel I was shrinking myself under the grip of it. I realized I would not stand up for myself because of it. I would not assert myself.
I articulate SHAME as Shoulds that Have Abbreviated My Living!
These arbitrary Shoulds that were forced upon me. I have realized that I have gulped them to such an extent that they come to me in various voices which are very feeble to identify and yet have a very strong grip on my actions and being.
Yes, they do help in fulfilling the need for belonging. Shame like all other feelings has a purpose. It helps me stay part of a group. However it is important to realize at what cost? At the cost of my individuality? Also, unlike other emotions, Shame can be very subtle. It thrives in secrecy and thus it eats us from inside.
It is very important to fully feel shame. Not be afraid of it or suppress it. Confronting it quickly shrinks it.
It is a very close friend of Ego and Entitlement. Shame, Ego and Entitlement- all three are about Me/I and Should. Explore some of the below thoughts
I should earn xyz…
My situation should be like…
Politicians should be…
My brother should be like…
My beliefs should be…
He should not be selfish
Government should help us
I should be hopeful
I should not be cynical
I am running away from what the reality is when I am gripped by my SHOULDs. My current salary is what it is….my brother is who he is.. politicians are selfish…i am cynical at this moment…. Only and only when I can accept reality, I can start to think of ways to influence. Action happens only in reality. Only when I am an adult. When I am running away from reality, I am not solving problems. I am busy protecting my self-image.
Should is the starting point of anger. When this should is tied to my identity – something that I connect with myself -my ego — shame takes birth.
I have some identities around my brother, school, nation, religions etc. Now when I start having Shoulds about them and these shoulds are not met, I am unable to accept this. I become ashamed.
I want to push this feeling inwards. I don’t like this feeling. It is an attack on my identity. It hurts. I don’t process this feeling. Heck I don’t even acknowledge it and thus it manifest as anger, hate, awkwardness etc.
This shame takes away my power to influence situations. I freeze l shrink, I stay angry…. I am unable to identify my needs or others needs. I stay miserable instead of taking actions!
I am sure Shame is also linked to my Shadow! When I am ashamed of someone and I strongly identify with them it triggers a strong reaction in me. Reactions so that I don’t have to look inside me. These reactions help me focus on them – How ridiculous, stupid – and all the Shoulds that are not followed – they are.
Acknowledging my shame is a great place to expand my self-esteem and self-image. Embrace my imperfections. When I am able to do that, I am truly growing!