The Dirty Little Secret of Shame: What it IS and What it is NOT!
By definition shame is an emotion in which the self is perceived as defective, unacceptable, or fundamentally damaged. People who experience traumatic events are prone to shame, particularly if they blame themselves for the event. Shame can be a particularly problematic emotion because it is associated with a desire to hide, disappear, or even die.
The Difference between Shame and Guilt
Shame is often confused with guilt, which is a related but distinct emotion in which a specific behavior is viewed as unacceptable or wrong, rather than the entire self. Shame is a violation of cultural or social values while guilt feelings arise from violations of one’s internal values. Guilt is a painful feeling of regret and responsibility for one’s actions, shame is a painful feeling about oneself as a person. There is a powerful acronym for SHAME:
S H- sshhhhhhh!
A – It’s all about
M E- Me
How does shame affect us?
Think back over your life to a time when you were shamed. A parent disciplined you publicly in front of your peers or you were falsely accused of cheating in school and unjustly punished. Perhaps your reputation was marred in some way and you had to live it down. Maybe you did something wrong but were improperly corrected and have carried the embarrassment of your actions ever since. Here are some important facts about shame which have been verified through many fields of study:
Shame always results in a loss of dignity
Many children are shamed when they are told they are stupid, dumb, etc. or made fun of while going through a clumsy stage of life. Teenagers who engage in sexual activity enter adulthood with guilt and shame following them around. When children are punished in anger or punished in the wrong way (slapping in the face, etc.) their personal dignity is demolished by the authority figure in their lives. Oftentimes, sexual abuse with children, produces very shame-filled adults. Adults can be shamed, too, through divorce, failure, rape, bankruptcy or other traumas.
Shame produces emotional pain
When a person is shamed, his or her emotions are damaged. This causes a sense of loss, hurt, and devaluation. Emotional pain can be so real it can actually cause physical pain–heaviness in the chest, upset of the digestive process, headaches, sleep disturbances, etc. Sometimes there is a physical pain which is based solely on the emotions.
Shamed people medicate their pain.
We humans lick our emotional wounds by medicating our pain through a multitude of means: sports, food, money, sex, television, personal achievements, immoral relationships, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, rage and various other things. Pain calls for alleviation. If the alleviation itself is sinful then the individual feels guilt which produces more shame-pain which, in turn, calls for more of the addictive substance or practice and so the cycle goes. This is how a person, or a society, becomes compulsive and addicted.
If you are having a difficult time getting past your shame or guilt, having a life coach could help you overcome these emotions. As a life coach, I have been trained to help you overcome these emotions so you can move on with your life and achieve lasting success. Follow this link to learn more about how I can help you move past feelings of shame and guilt, and move toward feelings of empowerment and confidence. https://richcavaness.com/