Have anyone said “shame on you” to you before?
It does not feel good being reproved, even if you have done something wrong.
When we were younger, that someone can be a person of authority, such as parents, teachers, religious leaders or peers. Their words might made a permanent imprint in our mind.
As a grown-up, that someone can also be your inner judge, whom you may NOT aware well. The judge learn the laws through your years of experiences and past interactions with others.
To overcome shame, we must first understand shame and its relationship with guilt.
Could you please tell me the difference between shame and guilt?
In shame, we feel that we are bad.
In guilt, we feel that we have done something bad.
In my perspective, if a child makes a mistake, it is better for him to feel sorry for his inappropriate action than to feel ashamed of himself. What’s your view?
In Spiritual Capital, Danah Zohar rated both shame and guilt -7 in a scale of motivation from -8 to +8, which corresponds to negative and positive motivations, emotions and drives that propel our lives and actions.
She defines shame as having no right to be here.
For individuals, both shame and guilt are more discouraging than fear (-4), craving / greed (-3), and anger (-2).
When we experience shame and guilt, it is extremely hard to listen to our inner voices, to be creative and create something out of passion.
The Confucian virtues include shame. While other Confucian virtues of loyalty, filial piety, benevolence, love, harmony, courtesy and integrity appear to be positive motivators, the (lost-in-translation) shame that Confucius referred to is the judgement and the sense of right and wrong.
Sadly, many times we feel ashamed because we are not good enough in our life, work, study, look, sport, and the list goes on. We need more courage to ignore this form of shame — the shame of imperfection.
To overcome fear (-4) or a sense of being threatened or too vulnerable, one has to first overcome shame and guilt (-7).
“We all have shame. We all have good and bad, dark and light, inside of us. But if we don’t come to terms with our shame, our struggles, we start believing that there’s something wrong with us — that we’re bad, flawed, not good enough — and even worse, we start acting on those beliefs. If we want to be fully engaged, to be connected, we have to be vulnerable. In order to be vulnerable, we need to develop resilience to shame.” ~ Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown of University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work
Sometimes, we may experience shame because we do not fit in. We do not always fit in to the ideals expected and determined by others (parents, teachers, bosses, society or media).
The good news is we can learn to be aware of the difference between fitting in and belonging, both concepts are often thought as being synonymous but they can be quite different and have significant influences on our choices, emotions and well-beings. Having such an awareness helps us to develop resilience to shame.
Could you please tell me the difference between fitting in and belonging?
To fit in, one assesses a situation and changes to be accepted (by others).
To belong means just be yourself, accept yourself and you will be accepted (by others who really care about you).
“The shaming culture we live in makes it harder than ever to show courage and be vulnerable” but if a person starts overcoming shame, he or she can have a viral effect to people whom he or she influences.
For example, as a big sister I would like my sister to love her healthy body (she used to idealize the very slim figures of models) and as an aunt I would love my niece Michelle to love her hair (ignore some people who said she has too little hair to grow long hair).
Instead of telling them or nagging to love their bodies and looks – the gifts that God and nature have bestowed to them, I choose to be a positive role model, a servant leader by loving my body, look, style and appearance. I am grateful for every cell, organ, part and feature of my face and body.
Let us learn from the nature. The clouds are not perfect yet they are beautiful. It is perfectly okay to be imperfect. No more shame, but more courage to be imperfect.