Check Your Read. Even When You Feel Shame, Bullied and Herded, You Are Free.

Eve covers herself and lowers her head in sham...

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Self-Care Tip #219 – Check your read.  Be a friend to yourself.

I’ve been reading the comments on suicide, thinking and reading and starting who knows how many posts for today, but just couldn’t pull it together.  I spent my time rather drawn to the same words that I hear so many others say as well in clinic, in church, on the street, in the home.  Instead of seeing them find their place in me like I normally do with this kind of crowd, the words kept their space; word-snobs – crutch, selfish, dependent, moral and other words, dusting and reapplying in their reflection.

I had to think, “Why?  Why am I staring like this?”  And so the rest of the day, I perused those thoughts, licked my finger, flick, next, paper-cut and so on.  After all, this is SELF-care I’m talking about, implying I am starting with me.

At last, after rereading yesterdays and past comments, I found the shame I was avoiding.  Why I feel shame about these things isn’t important in this post.  (Maybe another post.  So if you have nothing else to keep you reading, you’ll have that dish to bait you.)

Shame comes when implied or direct judgment creeps into our space.  It herds us.  We are bullied and lose our personal boundaries.  It touches and violates.  That is what shame does.  Any time our perception of freedom feels threatened, it is normal to want to defend ourselves.  Separating from stigma is a normal response.

Claiming the shame, however, isn’t forced on us.  It is our choice.  Once we own the shame, then wanting to get away from reminders of it, of course, is natural for anyone.  But jog back and see.  The perception of shame was never forced on us.  We are free.  We are free to feel, to perceive, to believe, to choose or to stop rubbernecking at the sparkling drama.

He made me so mad…!

She really hurt me.

You ruined my life!

I don’t want to take medications because my husband makes fun of me.

I take Prozac but I don’t have mental illness.  I’d be ashamed to…

It is a normal response to not want to be in the space where we feel these things.  That is natural and what many have thought worth fighting for.  But what if our perception, our Sixth Sense, wasn’t getting a good read?  A war might have been avoided.  Our lives might be lived differently.

We really are free, already, to choose.

Question:  How do you see shame affecting your ability to be friendly with yourself?  Or others?  How have different perceptions put you in a place that felt more free and safe?  Please tell me your story.

17 thoughts on “Check Your Read. Even When You Feel Shame, Bullied and Herded, You Are Free.

  1. I went back and read the heartfelt dialogue that ensued in the comments on the ‘suicide’ post and was – once again – moved by what you offer your readers. I am thinking on the topic of ‘shame’ now and want to give another angle to the word.
    Here in South Africa, shame is used as a word to express pity or care. In the face of someone’s misfortune, illness or grief, we will say something like “Shame, I am so sorry, I hope things get better soon” or “It’s a crying shame that you are suffering so, is there anything I can do?”
    Have a super Sunday, Doc.
    And thank you.

    • oh cindy. i wish i could apprentice w u n your writing skills. u articulate in what looks like ease, and w the best editors eye, find the needle in the stack of words that might shine.
      ahem. anyways, back to the point, i like the expansion your cultural insight brings to the word “shame” :). thanks. it’s a crying shame we r so far apart in space.

  2. In our modernity were should now be too cosmopolitan to accept or allow stigma to govern our self image especially stigma per mental illness. We should be comfortable in our lives because the judgmental finger pointing of others is largely seen as ignorant and primitive thinking and discounted by enlightened people. However, shame should haunt us if our actions affect others in a negative way and if we fail to treat others in a charitable way. It would mean we have no conscience and the amoral or selfish life is shameful indeed.

    • nicely said carl. it would b a fearful home to own w/o conscience. the conscience, morals, selfish, enlightenment and shame words are subjective still in many ways and we r blessed to have democracy to choose how we run our government of self. hurting others of course, agreeing, we want to stay away from that :). thank u carl as always for your thoughtful engagement. your company is really such a pleasure.

  3. Great post! When I was much younger I accepted shame then I realized that I could examine that feeling and decide if the precipitating factors warranted some learning experience or should be discarded. And you are right, once we do not blame others and take responsibility and are accountable, then we can forgive ourselves, if needed then move on. The important thing for me was also figuring this my cross to carry or is it someone elses?

    • Dear Chris,
      “I accepted shame then I realized that I could examine that feeling and decide” – so lovely. even the step of examination is a demonstration of freedom to self-care. thank so much for reading and commenting. many need to hear u. keep on.

  4. Pingback: Check Your Read. Even When You Feel Shame, Bullied and Herded, You Are Free. (via A Friend to Yourself) « Change is Never Ending

  5. Interestingly, I am warming up to a piece about the shame I felt in my recent life experience I’ve been writing about. I found out that my partner, with whom I have a 22 year old daughter, had been cheating on me with another woman for 18 months, and I went through a long period of feeling shame along with the denial phase I experienced for about two months. I felt ashamed because I though that people would judge me for having been cheated on. Also, many of my friends had warned me about this man coming back into our lives after so many years of being absent back in 2007, and I felt ashamed to tell them what had happened; that they had been right after all. Essentially I felt ashamed for having screwed up, for having ‘lost’ my partner, for having been tricked by him and by this other woman. I felt that my long term friends were thinking, “There she goes again, she’s made another foolish life choice and now she’s paying for it.” The shame lasted for about four months and I’ve just recently been able to release myself from it.

    • Emmiline, like i said on your wonderful blog-site, (everyone take a gander there and enjoy), i luv the way u don’t hide your journey. connecting w our own selves can be so difficult and u make us know the impossible is possible. keep talking

  6. Long ago I felt shame about something I did and how I dealt with it. I felt that way because I was thinking that others thought my actions were shameful (and some did think this and let me know it). All that led to years of misery.

    Then one day, really just one day, I realized what I did was wrong and there were consequences but the decisions I made and the actions I took to reconcile the wrong were honorable and good…regardless of what others thought…there was no shame.

    That it took me so long to see the truth is a bit sad, yet, time has made me more compassionate.

  7. i dont like shame i cant deal with shame and i admit it why cant i deal with shame becuase it takes me to places i dont want to go shame to me is bad or my head reads it as bad mind that does not mean i dont think bad when i have done bad things i try to stay looking at positives rather than negatives

  8. I have done shameful acts, been a part of shameful acts and witnessed shameful acts. And in some way I attempt to sympathise with myself and the other people involved to the point where no amount of sympathising can change the course of an event in the past but allow the change in the future and get on with life already.

    I was made to feel ashamed for being abused, having ‘boyfriends’, having certain friends, not ‘nice’ enough hair, standing up for myself, making my own choices, coming out as a lesbian, wanting to do things different from the norm and just being myself. And in some way everytime something happens and I get called out for it I go back to being ashamed and feeling blame for actually saying something that I can see, feel and understand. I don’t know what it is but when things happen I choose not to be around people any more for fear of bringing more shame onto myself.

    I lived with an Aunt who would tell her mother that I wouldn’t help clean her home, I never heard this directly, but her mother would come into the home and say ‘good to see you cleaning up and doing something’. That gave me the shame of thinking that I never actually do anything. The same as an Uncle who has acted in a deceptive manner towards me and instead of calling him on it I left it for a while until the matter had to change because I could no longer carry on angry and yet I am being shamed by other family members to apologise and feel sorry for him and his behaviour.

    Shame is a hard thing to deal with and no matter what happens you feel it all the time. There are always the reminders of your weaknesses that people like to take to like dirty laundry on the washing line. However the greatest way to overcome shame of any sort is to admit misgivens of any sort or be proud of moments and who you are because in the end it adds to the technicolour of your life.

    • Hello Helen! i’m so happy to connect w u here. your story is understandable. Shame is a fierce nemesis. clingy to say the least. i’m thinking the idea of empowerment in self-care u will find threaded through this blog, is going to grow your muscles. let us know. keep on.

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