Saturday, March 14, 2015
Shame is a powerful emotion which can cripple a life. Its force can distort one's self-image and sap one of all confidence.
It is important to recognize that there are two kinds of shame -- personal shame which is feeling bad about yourself, and social shame which is other people judging you negatively. Often people suffer social shame and internalize it as personal shame. If others are judging us, we have a natural tendency to believe them.
Fortunately, that didn't happen to me.
From earliest memory, I knew I was different. I knew I was female despite everyone telling me otherwise. Social shame imposed by my parents and others didn't dissuade me from my core belief; rather, it taught me that people are capable of mistakes and also of cruelty. The power to conform in our society is Procrustean.
I never internalized the social shame thrust at me. I never felt personal shame about wanting to be feminine or identified as female. Naturally, I learned to hide my nature as protection against abuse, but I never became ashamed of it. When I can reveal my true self, I do. Only late in life (my fifties), however, have I felt safe to be open about this publicly.
Due to society's intense pressure on women to appear attractive, many young girls feel ashamed of their weight or their looks. That reaction to social shame is so common as to be almost universal. It doesn't, however, make it right. Judging female appearance can have terrible effects on girls and erode their self-confidence.
Have you ever felt ashamed of yourself? Have you felt others judge you based on your appearance or another feature that causes you to stand out? Were you able to overcome social shame and avoid it creeping into your soul? How?