Well, by now you all realize that I devoted two entire posts to guilt (which you can find here and here). I have no problems with that, and I’m not justifying a thing. All I can say is that shame deserves equal time.
So what’s the thing with shame? Why are shame-fests so common? What’s in it for us to feel shame? Why would we choose it? Because, if you don’t mind my saying so, shame is completely and utterly over-rated.
Let’s start this particular rant with a couple of definitions. Sometimes seeing the definition is enough to scare us in to doing things differently. If that happens for you once you read them, then praise be! If not, read on, read on.
- Negative emotion – a negative emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment [editorial note: Man, I gotta get me some of that!]
- Capacity to feel unworthy [editorial note: Yeah, dude, bring it on!]
- State of disgrace – a state of disgrace or dishonor [editorial note: The example offered with this definition is: ‘bring shame on the family.’ Ooooohhh, the family!]
- Cause of shame – somebody or something that cause somebody else to feel shame [editorial note: Don’t you just love it when someone else shames you? The total best!]
Now, those are the nouns. Let’s move on to a couple of the transitive verbs. Because verbs are active states – let’s get active with this, shall we?
- Make somebody feel ashamed – to make somebody feel the negative emotion of shame [editorial note: Ever been shamed? How old were you at the time?]
- Force somebody through shame – to make somebody do something by exploiting the fact that he or she would be ashamed not to do it [editorial note: Great example offered here – ‘he shamed us into making higher donations to the ministry.’]
- Make somebody feel inferior – to be so much better or more successful than others to expose their comparative inadequacy [editorial note: My, my, what a lovely thing to incorporate into our collective culture.]
- Put somebody or something to shame – to make somebody or something seem inferior or of inferior quality by comparison [editorial note: Yeah, but mine really is bigger…]
OK, we good here? Got enough data to do a teensy check-in on why in god’s name anyone would allow themselves to do shame? Because seriously, I’m thinking that it might be just a bit ludicrous to keep on with that dumb-ass project anymore. Quit now! Just walk away. No notice offered. Just pass go, collect your $200 and keep right on going. (Remember Monopoly?)
I used to feel a lot of shame about how vicious I could be in that game. Then I realized I could stop playing and that would be the end of that nonsense!
And so that’s what I’m suggesting you do. Stop playing.
How, you might ask? Creatively, consistently, playfully, from within your most primal self, take back your goodness. Invite your goodness to meet you at your table and eat with you. Take your goodness with you to the altar of your heart and reinstate its presence within you.
Concurrently, as the voice of shame begins to speak, gently, firmly, creatively, consistently, from your most primal self, say ‘Enough. No. I am here. I am healing. I am freeing myself. I am liberating myself. I choose joy. Self-love. Acceptance. Presence.’
Breathing in deeply as your energy lifts, embrace your goodness. Be shameless! Do something wild. Dance. Sing. Laugh, laugh, laugh. Pick wildflowers. Nurture the shame-free self.
And keep your energy flowing.