Dealing with shame

I was curled up in bed many days. I kept the blinds down, locked the door because I didn’t want anyone to see my face. I lit a candle in some kind of voodoo hope that it would bring good things.

I felt really crap.

shame-cat

Shame is this all pervasive feeling that you’re not good enough. You feel bad for existing. Shame differs from guilt. Guilt is feeling bad for an action. Shame on the other hand is a permanent state.

Everything I did felt like it brought me to shame. You know that saying all roads lead to Rome. Yeah, all my neural pathways lead to shame.

“I woke up late” – shame. I should be doing something productive with my time. By waking up late you’re unproductive and wasting your life
“I don’t feel like working” – shame. I need the money
“I feel bad” – shame
“I don’t feel happy” – shame
“I have to make that phone call and put on a happy voice and stuff” – shame
“I wish I could be comfortable in my own skin” – shame
“Nothing I seem to do makes me feel any better” – shame. I’m failing at this life thing
“I’m in debt and I’m getting even deeper” – shame. If I don’t do this work, I’m going to end up homeless and hungry.
“I don’t want to speak to anybody” – shame.
“People are judging me for not working or having a real job” – shame.
“I should be enjoying this holiday but I feel really bad” – shame.
“I used to have so many people I knew, work hard and I’ve let it all disappear” – shame.
“I used to be so positive. Now I’m like this jaded monster” – shame.
“Who the hell am I?” – shame.
“I feel stupid about writing this” – shame.
“What if something I write makes someone feel uncomfortable” – shame.
“What if I hurt somebody with what I write?” – deep shame.
“How do I survive this stage without jumping off a bridge?” – shame.
“I should be positive and taking action here. Not stewing in this mood” – shame.
“Why should I carry on anyway? It’s not like there’s anyone or anything that can make me feel any better?” – shame.
“I feel shame for feeling shame” – shame.

Shame thrives when it’s not accepted, not talked about and not given empathy.

hyacinth-bucket

All the above thoughts seem stupid now. I know there are people out there who care about us. They’re probably ravaged by similar thoughts.

Pretty much everyone carries shame to some extent.

There’s one more thing shame thrives on: perfectionism.

If you’re a man, you’re ‘supposed’ to be successful at work in a career you love, earn money and status, drive a car that makes you a man, watch the football, make friends.

successful-man

If you’re a woman, you’re ‘supposed’ to do it all. Have a career, bring up kids, run them around, do the washing, ironing, cook, have a ‘perfect’ relationship with your man.

If you’re a gay man, you’re not allowed to age. You’re not allowed to gain weight. You must go to the gym. You have to go to gay bars and chase the fresh meat.

Isn’t that all totally utterly ridiculous?

tv-heads

We get all these perfectionistic ideas in our head from adverts and TV.

Capitalism thrives on your feelings of inadequacy. If you feel insecure and see happy people on the TV – you buy their products. That’s why America has the biggest economy in the world yet the most miserable population and most mental health problems.

And it’s been designed this way. Your ideal state of being is fear, inadequacy and uncertainty for elite politicians and top business people. That way you’ll do what you’re told and won’t threaten their power or wealth.

edward-bernays

In summary – we’re all more alike than we realise. We’re all suffering private battles. And this suffering goes on because they’re taboo (especially in Britain).

The way we get out of this is to empower ourselves as individuals. To talk about our fears. To ask for help and advice when we need it, even if we’re afraid. That’s the source of our power.

I’m now going to have a duvet day, avoiding my emails and Facebook for all the shame I feel about writing this. Who on earth do I think I am?

day-in-bed

There I go again, I try and make fun of myself. Poke a joke so that I seem humble and likable. That’s fake. #shame

I guess I just want to be liked and respected for who I am and my ideas. I really want to be able to earn a living writing and saying smart things. And have a positive enlightening influence on others.

I see through fakery and don’t like it. I can’t watch American TV because it’s so grimly fake, loud and grotesquely larger than life.  I don’t like fakery in myself.

Over time this has pissed off authoritarian teachers who wanted to control me. So they filled me with shame.

I feel really conflicted about my marketing work. I need to earn money and get out of debt. But I also don’t want to be profiting from shaming people into buying things. Because then I feel that shame too.

I probably need to write a book or something like that. If you think that’s a good idea, or have any other advice please reach out. I’m not sure what to do with myself.

(That’s the first time I’ve publicly asked for help here)

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Enough is enough

I have been an intolerant intense git for a long time. It’s not my fault. And it’s not anyone else’s fault.

It’s just how I’ve been wired.

Due to various experiences at various points I’ve been scared, stressed and worried.

There has been an underlying state of anxiety, and unacceptability.

Like, I haven’t been able to accept myself.

I’ve needed to achieve something to be acceptable. I’ve needed to be liked by everyone, or achieve something businessy.

When you can’t accept yourself, you can’t accept anyone else.

It uses 98% of your energy to second-guess people, to tune into what they think, hear and say. And try to avoid conflict.

If you face criticism or feedback, it’s magnified 100x so it’s overwhelming.

Blah blah blah. I’m getting bored of my own writing. Anyway end of the therapy session.

Basically, it’s worth spending plenty of time alone to know yourself and befriend yourself (especially the bits that are unacceptable).

It’s worth getting mindful of what of you think and feel. It’s worth skipping around the field naked with facepaints and praising Lord Booyakasha and being alive.

booya

Blah blah blah, I should stop writing now and taking everything so seriously.

Here’s a picture of Jesus if he was a hipster in 2015.hipster-jesus

And when you put your energy into productive projects, helping and listening to others, you feel good and make cool things.

Ok. I’ve stopped this drivel. Have fun.

“How should I spend my time?”

This is a geeky post. But I think it’s very important because it covers the big fundamental question of “how should I live?”

The three most valuable resources you have are: time, energy and health.

Time is the biggest constraint. Once you’ve spent that, it’s gone.

No matter how rich you are, there is no way you can get more of it (it is possible to eek out a few years at the end through medicine, but generally that’s very expensive and the quality of that life is limited).

Then there’s energy. I would see this as motivation, zest for life or creativity. It’s kind of an inner force that we’re all born with.

Then there’s health. By this I mean – physical health, muscle, mental health, general  wellbeing.

It’s very easy to lose health through worries, stress and other things in the modern world. And it’s very difficult and expensive to fix medical problems.

With health, prevention is better than a cure.

Now what gets me angry and frustrated is as a society I feel we fundamentally misinvest these resources. In other words, we’re doing the wrong thing with the most valuable things we have.

We optimise the world for maximum profits and stock market valuation “wealth” – rather than the real wealth like happiness, health, time with family and friends and time for hobbies and play.

I’m hyper-critical of many workplaces, schools and society as a whole because

  • They make people spend a lot of time doing busywork (training you to pass tests, having endless meetings, looking good rather than creating value for the end user)
  • They insist on you being there for fixed hours, regardless of your productivity. You’re not usually rewarded for working quickly effectively. If you finish your tasks, you’ll get more tasks.
  • Marketers in many industries exploit your emotional vulnerabilities and fears to sell you things you don’t really need.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck8eop8PLAc
  • They (generally) crush creativity, individuality and divergent thinking. Sapping energy, ideas and freedom.
  • It takes many of the best years of your life cramming you into a fluorescent-lit box.
  • Encourage you to take on huge debts (e.g. mortgage). So that leaving your job is extremely difficult or stressful.Thus leaving you exploitable, stressed and worn out… destroying your physical health and sanity.
  • It exploits the most insecure, smart young people for 120 hour work weeks.

The total affect is the majority of the Western World is worn out, just trying to keep their head above water.

Beyond a very low threshold (enough for housing, warmth, food, transport, clothing), money has diminishing returns on happiness.

Diminishing-Returns

If we started valuing real wealth more than “money wealth” then we will become a more honest, connected, sane society. We’d all be happier and healthier.

And it starts on a personal level where we ask “am I spending my time and energy well? Am I looking after my health?”

It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks at this point. It’s just important that you’re honest with yourself.

Sorry that sounds very preachy and all-knowy.  I sound like a complete nob.

I guess it’s weird to talk about the most important things. It can bring up uncomfortable feelings and that most toxic of emotions: regret and self-loathing, for some people.

It’s not very sporting or British to talk about feeling bad.

I suppose what I sense is that there’s this huge toxicity underlying many of the institutions and cultural norms of the western world. I feel nobody else sees it, or wants to do anything about it. Addressing it makes everyone confront themselves and that can lead to all kinds of breakdowns, meltdowns, whatever.

The good news is what I’ve seen in a few people is that after some kind of breakdown, they start unraveling the huge spaghetti of beliefs that aren’t true for them. Then they enter a more centered, truthful, satisfied period. Then eventually they become very strong and blossom.

Ultimately – the world is moving to a point where individuals are becoming stronger and more empowered than those who profit from controlling us.

That means the future is bright and interesting for all of us.