Shame is a pretty useless emotion, but it’s only human to feel it.
We can’t remove it; it’s a natural part of life.
At some point, we all feel ashamed of something. Sometimes it is a simple as being rude to someone when we felt stressed, and regretting it later. This kind of shame is something all need to feel though, as it helps us to understand the consequences of our own actions. It is usually easy for us to process and digest.
It’s not uncommon however, for shame to get out of place.
When we can’t handle the shame of a situation, it can lead to a low self-worth and affect other aspects of our lives. When this happens, the feelings that may have previously helped us to reassess our own behaviour become less of a sculpting force and more of an oppressive issue.
This is when shame can become crippling, and we need a better understanding to be aware of how it can affect us. By doing this we can develop a better means of dealing with it to eventually enjoy a better sense of self at the end of that process.
How can shame cripple us?
It Stops Essential Discussion
It’s essential to discuss things in life. Some things are too important not to be discussed.
Take these examples…
Think about the teenage girl who is terrified to tell her parents that she is pregnant. By keeping it secret she may begin to experience health issues, but because she fears what others might think of her, she continues to stay quiet. Without too much imagination you can see how this may not end well for the girl and her unborn baby. If she had just spoken to an adult, she may have been offered the help she needed.
Or perhaps the person who feels ashamed of contracting an STD but ignores symptoms when they actually need treatment for chlamydia.
Both of these examples are quite extreme, but it’s easy to see how shame can prevent us from getting the help we need. By accepting shame as a small price to pay for finding a solution, we can deal with it and it will eventually dissipate.
It Ruins Your Worth
All of us have challenges throughout our lives, and making mistakes is a natural part of life.
At times, they might become mega-mistakes, but this is normal too.
It is no great failing in a human being to make mistakes. In fact, it’s so normal that is becomes almost as essential as breathing. We learn through mistakes from a very young age.
Imagine a person who has never made a mistake in their life. Would you want to be friends with them? It’s unlikely that you would. Not only would you have trouble communicating with them, but they wouldn’t have anything that you’d be able to relate to.
Shame can however somehow blind you to this fact.
Understanding that we can always learn from mistakes means that there is no reason to feel shame. This can take away the residual feeling of a lack of worth you might have otherwise felt. It’s a positive step forward.
It’s So Close To Self-Pity
Self-pity is often the most useless emotion – it harms everything and contributes nothing. It doesn’t allow any form of development or a sense of personal need. The problem with shame is that it’s just a hair’s breadth away from self-pity.
At times, self-pity can make you feel as though you’re ‘done’ with a situation after a shameful action. You might think that you have been ‘found out’ and can never be redeemed, or are now worthless. Perhaps you feel as though you ave failed once and can never try again.
Rather than wallowing in self-pity, think about it.
Who is shaming you? Do they have the authority to do so? Very rarely should they, unless you have committed something terrible. Secondly, if you feel this way, and that there is no room for bettering yourself, that’s just not true. Why feel shameful when you can put all your energy towards a solution, or trying harder next time? This is a much better outcome from an unfortunate situation.
Taking these strategies on board will hopefully help to better handle useless and self-destructive feelings of shame to live a more positive life.