Even the word sounds small and defeated. Like it shouldn’t be allowed to be uttered.
Written on the page it doesn’t look very powerful. Look at it, it’s all curves and softness. Hardly a word to be bothered about.
That is the deceptive nature of shame. It makes the person feeling it diminutive while it is actually one of the most powerful emotions.
Shame is the deep emotion that often pulls the puppet strings of the more familiar feelings of guilt or fear. It hides in the dark recesses of our emotions, preferring to stay out of the light of discovery and examination.
Guilt is an emotion that is attached to an event or time.
An example would be:
Sarah promised to pick up her sister’s children from daycare but was 15 minutes late due to a meeting at work that ran late.
And boy guilt would love to capitalize on this even. It may show up around letting down her sister, then her nephews and maybe even around leaving the meeting in a rush…..
Notice that all this guilt is triggered by events. Not a general state of being.
Sneaky shame, on the other hand, shows up with more generalized feelings. Using the same example:
Sarah may feel ashamed that she can’t get to places on time (even if this was a one time occurrence-shame isn’t logical, it’s powerful)
Sarah may feel that she is a bad aunt because her nephews had to wait for her….they are sure to believe the same thing….aren’t they?
Sarah believes her sister will feel let-down, disappointed and embarrassed to have a sister like her.
Shame likes to hijack a situation or event and set up camp.
It is a squatter in our soul. It begins the campaign of whispers and slight of hand moves with guilt and fear. All too quickly, it changes feelings about an event to judgement of ourselves.
It believes it has won.
That just is not so.
Shame simply can not thrive in an environment of self awareness.
An aware woman can overcome shame when she realizes it was nothing but a cleverly executed ad campaign. She simply stops buying into shame. And, then, she is free to release shame about the past as well.
I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m saying it’s doable.
I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences about shame if you feel comfortable.
Until next time.