It’s a cold, rainy morning here in New England, but spring is showing itself. The grass is beginning to green up slowly, the Red Sox open today is in Baltimore and the Boston Marathon just a few weeks away, so bring it on! What’s going on where you are?
Returning to our discussion on shame, first let me say that no understanding of shame can take place without understanding the social drivers of shame. There are many in our social and economic system who profit from the shame epidemic and, in fact, actually fuel it. Shame helps to drive the drug industry (legal and illegal), the alcoholic beverage industry, the cosmetic surgery industry, makeup and diet industries, the self-help industry, shame keeps social workers and psychiatrists very busy. Shame undermines a society while making profits for a few who have learned how to exploit humanity’s self conscious edges and determine that there is one way to look, be and feel.
Shame arises from a failure to meet expectations. Many young children develop shame around their families and their socio-economic realities. Sometimes shame becomes a driving force, a motivator to change things, but what if you cannot change something?
Here in New England, elitist braniacs have taken to sending “fat” letters home to children who don’t meet specific physical guidelines getting the shaming underway early and by people who really should know better. Many dysfunctional parents raise their children to take care of them and expect these little humans in training to meet their emotional needs. This reverses the natural order of things and requires a young child to try and develop adult behavior they are not ready for or capable of. When children fail to meet these expectations shame and anxiety result. John Bradshaw writes of this in his books as the roots of many an alcoholics addiction.
Dealing with difficult feelings can extract a massive toll on people because shame isolates and it seems the only way out of these difficult feeling is to share them.
Can you identify feelings of shame in your own life? How will you resolve them, move past them and take back control of your life.