Shame is not the game (for adults and kids)

This morning, I wrote a post about the pitfalls of shaming others (kids) and shaming oneself. The post was long, scattered, and full of too much life! So, I walked away, searching for concise thoughts or pithy words to use. Hoping it would magically hit me….but it didn’t.

The gist of it was how damaging shaming is to our relationships…which it is. When we shame our kids, we break their hearts and damage their trust with us. Over time, if this continued, our kids will drift away and avert their life away. Trust will be minimal while their ears will be deaf to our trying to control them…or connect with them…or be with them. That is how misguided shame is. Shame is a reflection of the damaged self...not the other person.

On the flip side, just as bad, we can shame ourselves. This shame is nastier than shaming another. This type of shame and guilt will drive you into despair, much like a prison cell of your own making. Welcome…depression.

I have known plenty of both kinds of shaming. Towards me, towards others. Internally and externally…giving and taking.

Well, so much for that lovely post. Perhaps it will come to life another day. There are lots to be said about that topic.

But wait….the epiphany did happen just in a different pattern. Soon after I gave up writing for the morning, I was in the midst of it: Shame!!! Life is a cruel master that way. Or, life picks the most opportune times to show a lesson.

I will not go into specifics, but I was not a happy dude! Yet it brought clarity to the likes of which I have never thought of before.

The epiphany is this: Shaming a behavior is one thing…sure the child (person, self) will carry some guilt and avoid you the next time it happens but shaming a person’s emotions is the greatest sin.

I say this because a person can learn how to think. They can learn how to act. They can learn good and bad behaviors….but they cannot control how they feel. They can control only how they respond to their emotions.

That is the lynchpin. Emotions happen all on their own! No one controls this. Sure one can pent it up or hide it, but emotions have their own master, and it is not the thinking mind!

Shaming someone for feeling something is incredibly damaging. It is the deepest cut and the biggest breaker of trust.

Feelings are NOT GOOD, BAD, RIGHT, OR WRONG. They are, and we should not shame them. For the moment we do this, no healing can begin. With children, especially, let them feel without repercussions. Let them iron it out in a safe environment. Let them feel as they do without making them feel bad about something they have no control over with your family or friends. Let them be human.

Finally- yourself. Let the emotions happen. Sit with them. Allow them to get out. Then as they pass, ACCEPT THEM. It is ok. They are ok. You are ok. Acceptance is the first step to love. Shaming isolates and breeds fear.

We all have work to do here.

Be well


Photo by Marco Albuquerque via Unsplash

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