I was curled up in bed many days, blinds down and door locked.
I didn’t want anyone to see my face.
I lit a candle in some kind of voodoo hope that it would bring good things.
I felt really crap.
Shame is this all pervasive feeling that you’re not good enough. You feel bad for existing.
Shame differs from guilt: Guilt is feeling bad for an action, but shame is a relatively permanent state.
Everything I did felt like it brought me to shame.
You know that saying all roads lead to Rome? Yeah, all my neural pathways lead to shame.
Some examples of the way this internal dialogue works:
“I woke up late.” —shame.
I should be doing something productive with my time. I’m being so unproductive and wasting my life away.
“I don’t feel like working.” —shame.
I need the money.
“I feel bad and unhappy.”—shame.
I’m supposed to feel “good” and “happy.”
“I have to make that phone call and put on a happy voice and stuff.” —shame.
“I wish I could be comfortable in my own skin.”—shame.
“Nothing I seem to do makes me feel any better.”—shame.
I’m failing at this life thing.
“I’m in debt and I’m getting even deeper.”—shame.
“People are judging me for not working or having a real job.”—shame.
If I don’t do this work, I’m going to end up homeless and hungry.
“I don’t want to speak to anybody.”—shame.
“I should be enjoying this holiday but I feel really bad.” —shame.
“I used to be so positive. Now I’m like this jaded monster.” —shame.
“I feel stupid about writing this.” —shame.
“What if something I write makes someone feel uncomfortable.”—shame.
“What if I hurt somebody with what I write?”—deep shame.
“How do I survive this stage without jumping off a bridge?”—shame.
“I should be positive and taking action here. Not stewing in this mood.”—shame.
“Why should I carry on anyway? It’s not like there’s anyone or anything that can make me feel any better?”—shame.
I feel ashamed for feeling this way. (also shame)
Shame thrives when it’s not accepted, not talked about and not given empathy.
All the above thoughts seem stupid now. I know there are people out there who care about us. They’re probably ravaged by similar thoughts.
Pretty much everyone carries shame to some extent.
There’s one more thing shame thrives on: perfectionism.
For instance, a man is “supposed” to be successful at work in a career they love, earn money and status, drive a car that makes them a man, watch the football, make friends.
If you’re a woman, you’re “supposed” to do it all. Have a career, bring up kids, run them around, do the washing, ironing, cook, have a ‘perfect’ relationship with your man.
Isn’t that all totally ridiculous?
We get all these perfectionistic ideas in our head from adverts and TV.
Capitalism thrives on our feelings of inadequacy. If we feel insecure and see happy people on the TV, we buy their products. That’s why America has the biggest economy in the world, yet the most miserable population and most mental health problems.
And it’s been designed this way. Your ideal state of being is fear, inadequacy and uncertainty for elite politicians and business people. That way you’ll do what you’re told and won’t threaten their power or wealth.
“If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will, without them knowing it.” ~ Edward Bernays
We’re all more alike than we realise.
We’re all suffering private battles. And this suffering goes on because shame is a huge taboo.
The way we get out of this is to empower ourselves as individuals. To talk about our fears to those we feel safe with. And we must ask for help and advice when we need it, even if we’re afraid. That’s the source of our power.
I’m now going to have a duvet day, avoiding my emails and Facebook for all the shame I feel about writing this.
Who on earth do I think I am?
There I go again, making fun of myself.
Poke a joke so that I seem humble and likeable.
But it feels fake. #shame
I guess I just want to be liked and respected for who I am and my ideas. I really want to be able to earn a living writing and saying smart things. And have a positive enlightening influence on others.
I probably need to write a book. If you think that’s a good idea, or have any other advice please reach out in the comments.
Because like most of us, I’m plagued by self-doubt.
Author: Alex Clifford
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: author’s own