A few days ago, my friend Di wrote about how a dinner with someone she admired led to her grappling with feelings of inadequacy about her own artisitc vision, the ambiance of her new (less than 1 month) living space), and even her withdrawal from the Pagan community.
It hit me like a gut blow.
Not even a month ago I was told that I have a ‘very high’ shame index — that is, I feel ashamed a lot of the time. Its sort of my ‘go to’ reaction when I get emotional. Since then I’ve been trying to see when I feel shame, so that I can start to hunt down the associated triggers and mitigating factors. It’s hard, because I am not aware of feeling ashamed in the moment, it requires looking back and being a detective. But I read Di’s words and SAW what shame looks like.
Shame is always a lie. Always always always. When we feel ashamed — of our hair, for example, — its because someone told us something about that made us feel small, and ugly. Di, a sexy, vibrant, artistic woman who I have known for (oh wow) 10 years now felt inadequate because someone she admired questioned her decisions.
Shame is the feeling that we are the mistake (as opposed to guilt, which is when we feeld bad becuase we made a mistake). Shame sneaks around, disguised as anger, contempt, withdrawal, attack, resentment, blame, and perfectionism. Shame attacks the ego by makign us beleive we are inherently defective and unlovable. (For years I’ve called myself defective. Ouch.)
Time to get out the psychic bandages and heal the wound.