I’ll just say it. Shame. It’s a problem. It’s not helpful. It’s not empowering. It’s really damaging.
We are not born into this world with shame. Each of us is born into this world, asking for what we need and want without holding back.
As we develop, we develop unconscious biases from what we observe and experience in the world around us.
Some of these biases relate to identity. When we internalize a bias that is negative about an aspect of our identity (or the identity placed on us), it turns into shame, and shame limits us bigtime.
Because of its relationship with identity, shame is a common problem related to the Solar Plexus chakra (which is about sense of self).
Shame affects everyone
Regardless of what someone looks like or how they identify, shame affects everyone. For example, many children who are born male are shamed for crying or feeling sadness. They learn that the only emotions they’re allowed to have are anger or fanatic elation.
Many people who are menstruators are shamed for talking about the physiological realities of menstruating, despite the fact that half of the world experiences this bodily reality. They learn that their lived experience is irrelevant and uncomfortable and should be shrouded in silence.
An example from my volunteering
One of the neurological disorders I live with is Tourette Syndrome (TS) Plus. For several years, I have volunteered with an organization that provides support to folks living with TS.
During monthly support nights, there have been so many times that a parent of a newly diagnosed child shows up and is clearly struggling with the unconscious biases society has about people with disability. They often blame themselves.
But that blame only comes from shame.
The fact that their child has Tourette does not make them worth any less than anyone else. There is nothing whatsoever to hold shame about. I also gently remind them that if the parents are feeling even an iota of shame about their child having Tourette, that they should seek counselling to work through that.
And you know what’s interesting?
The children are NOT the ones who start out having shame about their Tourette!!! As far as the children are concerned, it’s just what their body does.
It’s only OTHER PEOPLE who create shame in them by their OWN biases and shame about what it means to live with disability. And even an iota of shame held by the parent WILL be picked up by the child, who will internalize it and then have yet another challenge to face.
It’s hard enough to navigate a world filled with biases, and life has its share of challenges as it is.
So let’s release the grip of shame and in its place embrace our true identities with pride and increasing confidence.