I want to talk about shame.
More and more, I’ve been starting to think of shame as one of the biggest obstacles to overcome on the path towards well-being.
Where does it come from? What is shame?
I think of shame as being potentially rooted in what is ultimately a distorted view of the world.
What has happened, has happened.
This, I believe.
What I do not believe is that we have no control over what will happen.
When I have felt shame, it’s been because my brain applied a sort of permanence to myself, and to my actions.
A feeling of inevitability, and of being somehow….wrong.
As a human.
Trapped, in myself and the cycles of my own destruction.
Those feelings, they are toxic. They led to me further distancing myself from those other humans I was so alien from.
But we all feel shame.
The things that cause us to feel shame, differ widely. Humans as Mad Libs!
So how do we end up feeling shame, and how can we start feeling less of it?
I personally suspect that open dialogue might be the only path out of shame, and that it is the lack of it that fosters those kinds of feelings.
When I open up with other people, about even my darkest fears and shame- I’ve found over and again that someone, somewhere, has struggled with the same thing.
Frequently, that revelation alone has been enough for me to stop internalizing those feelings of being broken, and alien- and begin taking meaningful steps towards either accepting that it was my own brain manufacturing problems where there are none, or beginning to find ways to actually change my behavior so that I act in ways that I am ashamed of, less frequently.
I have started to think of isolation as the biggest existential crisis facing our species.
The pandemic has merely increased (albeit exponentially) the symptoms of isolation- but it was creeping up on us, already.
So many people around us, every day. Yet much of those interactions had moved into the online world, long before the pandemic hit – and therefore have become…. empty.
Much worse than being alone is being surrounded by people, and still feeling alone.
Empathy is the antidote to shame, I believe.
And it’s becoming increasingly hard to find in today’s world. No longer there before us, to remind us- we must actively seek it out.
When we are isolated, we seem to forget the things we have in common with one another.
And I believe that part of the isolation we’re all suffering from right now – is avoidable.
Maybe if we stopped viewing the online worlds in which we live as ‘merely virtual’.
Maybe it could be of benefit to begin viewing all the parts of our worlds as our world.
Sure, virtual interactions carry with them different flavors, different rules.
But the effects of online interactions are real.
Why not begin treating them as such?