The Value of Embracing Shame

We live in an age where our lives are exposed. Be that by:

  • fabricated disinformation or smear campaigns;

  • having to deal with undesired nude pics;

  • what's had to predicate GDPR;

  • hatred - unfocused rage lacking introspective analysis or at least communal discussion/empathy

Sometimes we have to deal with community-driven factors: our [/chosen] family; our friend's family; our nation; our workplace; our soulmates; frenemies; strangers.

I started writing this article because I recently came to the realisation that embracing your shame is one of the biggest hurdles on your path to approaching the world and other people. If you want to put a proposal across to someone, you may feel shame (don't take it lightly - not feeling the same way is a given among humans, but the intensity of an emotion can be a drastic rate-limiting step: to the point of cessation). If you want to tell someone you love them, you may be having a palpitation that's less "butterflies in the stomach" and more "get me to a bench with oxygen"; if you want to post your face on social media, you may want to tear every reference, or remotely documenting item about you down. I don't need to go on, the fact that you're reading this means you own a digital appliance with connectivity - I'm sure your imagination is up to the task.

The point is, your shame tends to stem from a belief somewhere inside you - a belief about the scope of your abilities (i.e. insecurity - if it's not in touch with a realistic appreciation), a belief about your inability to change your life (fear of leaving the comfort zone - the devils you haven't met) etc. Being agile about your beliefs is something not everyone has experienced or comfortable with, or even aware of. So if you want to - I digress. Back to my discourse. Often, if you want to fulfil an objective and it's something that people around you have never expected of you, their immediate/semi-long term responses can throw you off. That becomes shame. But it's external shame. But what if you accept your own insecurities and [thankfully] observe that millions of other people across the world are doing something similar right now. As the double-edged social media eagerly harangues us at every given moment - maybe you can swallow that shame and recognise, "yeah, I look well silly, but I'm okay with doing it again tomorrow and again after that". I'm doing it because I know I want to. I'll just get the hang of doing it better.

Maybe that's all we need? A pat on our own shoulder, look in the mirror or something.

This article was about finding a healthy way of handling meagre amounts of shame. Obviously topics like nude pics and being smeared is something that needs to be approached more carefully - because there you'd be dealing with hatred, not just shame. But the spirit is the same, and I say that based on observation - both internal & external. The difference comes down to who's got your back when there's a mob screaming for your head, that's where bonds are at. And that's what makes shame worth living with, even if the bond is just with your sense of identity. Because then, shame becomes something that helps you recalibrate, your own personal spellchecker. If you made it to the end of this then you deserve a treat - not everyone enjoys reading something full of vague, lengthy platitudes on emotions - go get a pen, and then write down one sentence: shame is human. (cheesy.. yeah, I'm a bit cheesy. I also make dad jokes, I'm that kind of responsible).