How would you describe shame?
What do you think shame stems from?
Now, this isn’t exactly a widely talked about feeling because of it’s very meaning but I just wanted to share what I learnt discussing it with some friends.
The dictionary describes shame as a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong. I believe this is something we’ve all experienced at one point or the other, it might not be totally encompassing of the definition but at the very least, we’ve felt ashamed as a result of something that happened to or around us. Might I add that being shameful isn’t necessarily being remorse, remorse is described as a feeling of being sorry for doing something bad or wrong in the past; a feeling of guilt. I could feel shameful about something but not remorse and could go right back to it.
More often than not, shame is private, we keep it to ourselves, it’s our dear secret we believe no one must find out about. We isolate ourselves from our community- this is one of the most direct impacts of shame, makes us stay away from our loved ones, family and friends just so they don’t by any chance pry and discover our shameful habits. Makes us try to avoid God too, regardless of if there was a preexisting relationship with him or not, which is actually quite comical as it’s just like not wanting to take a bath because you think you’re too dirty.
I was at this hangout for ladies in my fellowship last weekend and we had this activity called “Stand up for your sister”. Each person was handed a sheet to anonymously answer yes/no to some questions, ranging from family to addiction, abuse, sexuality and many more. The format was simply “have you ever experienced ______”. Each person answered yes/no to all the questions then the answered sheets were shuffled and randomly passed out so each person got someone else’s. One person then reads each question and if the answer is yes for the sheet you had, you stood up, representing whoever answered the question. This activity emphasized two major points to me.
- You are NEVER alone in whatever you’re going through. The survey had about 30 questions and there was not 1 question that had just one person stand up, not at all, at the very least, 2 people stood up. Regardless of what it seems like or how terrible it seems, there’s at least one person out there going through the same situation contrary to what shame has us feeling.
- Everyone is going through something. In light of this, we really have no right or reason to be judgemental about people’s actions. Of course, everyone’s reaction to this is “nah, I’m good, I don’t judge people” but is that really true? would you relate to your friend the same way if you found out their deepest secrets or shameful habits? do you think you’re sometimes better off than others because you’re not dealing with whatever it is they’re going through?
Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love- Brene Brown
Now, how to handle shame?
- Vulnerability- I know this is a difficult one, no one wants to air their dirty laundry but sometimes it’s just what is needed, talking to the right person could make all the difference.
- Self love- Loving yourself and all your flaws isn’t accepting shame for what it is, it is embracing your faults and being willingly to fix them, not letting them affect your self worth.
- Community- Honestly, the importance of good community cannot be overemphasized. Life is meant to be lived and shared with others and this falls back to being willing to be vulnerable, being willing to take the risk of being open in order to be “healed” or better put cleansed from shame.
- Be deliberate- be deliberate about dealing with whatever source of shame, you deal with shame then you’re getting rid of a lot of unwanted baggages too- fear, insecurity, depression, name it…
- God- as cheesy as it may sound, God is always there willing to help, doesn’t matter if you’ve been a Christian for years or haven’t so much as stepped into a church before, it really doesn’t matter, he loves and accepts us for we are but then even loves us too much to leave us that way, he fixes us without any iota of condemnation.
So dear friend, next time shame brings ugly head, I hope you’ll remember all this. Thanks for reading, do share with a friend. Have you any strategy you use to handle shame of any sort? leave a comment below to share your thoughts, would love to hear them. Have a lovely week!💓
Shoutout to Cru for the women’s overnight! 💞