Shame. Ah what a cloaked villain! In this post I’m going to tell you about why shame is not an enemy you want to ignore.
“Michael Corleone” in The Godfather Part II was not the 1st to say it, but maybe was the first to make the quote famous
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Not many people would at first think that keeping shame close might be a good thing, but I’m here to tell you that it is.
Meet Bill the highway patrol. He’s been seeing me for melancholic depression. Sometimes he feels a little better, but those times even still are not so great. Bill has told me about where he thought his anxiety and fear came from. His story made sense to him. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem except that he thought about it often. Very often. He was running in sprints away from it. Somehow after all the time he’d spent reluctantly in the presence of his fears, he hadn’t realized that shame was connected. Shame of being treated the way he had been. Shame of being misused. He hadn’t faced his fears because he was always angled away from his thoughts of shame.
If we don’t go where the shame is, we won’t be free from its effect on us. Fear is a big bad bully. Until you turn around and say stop, you’ll be running for a long time.
We all need to be a bit “gangsta” at times. Ignoring shame is not. It’s not emotion-street smart. I’m waiting for Bill to think, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” And sit in the feelings that come with those thoughts long enough to realize that he’s still ok.
In obsessive compulsive disorder, there is a psychotherapy treatment called “exposure and response prevention.” In this treatment, the person with the ego-dystonic fear exposes themselves to their fear for a progressive amount of time. They realize that after going where the fear is over and over and materially seeing that nothing bad happens, the fear looses more and more control over them.
This is effective in any anxiety condition, including shame.
Self-Care Tip #83 – Get gangster on your shame. Be a friend to yourself.
Question: Has shame bullied you? Please tell me your story.