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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3 thoughts on “Dealing with shame

  1. Suzanne says:

    Really needed to hear this today, it’s helping me find a healing journey out of the darkness of the last few years. Shame is such an insidious thing, it creeps in. I too have been the target of authoritarian bosses not liking my self assertion and independence, and i seem to have fallen victim to some of that shame. Here’s to recovering my courageous self!

  2. lizard says:

    I just found this blog through a comment you left on a thoughtcatalog article. Anyway, I think this is really honest and I respect that. Definitely identify with some of these points…

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