We all are familiar with the words shame, guilt, worthlessness, and rejection and good for nothing. Many people live an isolated life due to these experiences and feelings. A good number of people commit suicide as they feel alone, rejected by people around them.
What is shame?
Some of us feel shunned by others or we feel that way. We feel that focus is not on us or turned away from us. On the other hand, sometimes we feel that focus of all around us is turning towards us. In my experience in family and marital counseling, I often hear this: he or she is not paying attention to me or turning away from me. Some of these experiences may be real while others may be just our feeling or imaginations only. For us, these experiences and feelings are real.
Many times, we think or feel that others, loved ones, friends, husband or wife, parents and siblings are ignoring us. We even say, they think, we don’t even exist. Some people feel being exposed and naked. They feel that, everyone knows everything about them. Many of us feel that way one time or another. Some of these feeling of exposed can be real too. Many have told me that others are staring at them. Very often we could feel this way, if we feel weak and rejected. People who believe that, others know all about can feel, all what others are doing is, staring at them.
We can also feel that we are worthless and it’s not a secret. Many people think that, they are nobody on this earth and it’s not a secret. We can also feel that, we are of little or no value to those we love and care. Their opinions matters to us. The more closure we are to them, our feeling of “no value” increases. Did we ever think, that, we are losers in this world?
Shames are associated with nakedness, dishonor, disgrace and defilement. The 1st incident of shame is seen in the bible as God created heavens and the earth together with man-Adam and Eve. “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom, she took the fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed together fig leaves and made coverings for themselves”.[Genesis 3:6-7] Here we see that, Adam and Eve disobeyed God the creator and experienced nakedness. According to Bible, this is the beginning of shame.
Guilt lives in court rooms. Even before the judge say: you are guilt; some can feel guilt of what they have done, in violation of laws. When judge says to the guilty person that, he or she is wrong, guilty and violated the laws, guilty person can expect punishments from the judge. When, we humans sinned against God, we can also expect punishments.
The community, society in which we live also condemns us. They tell us that, we don’t belong here to the community/society. They tell us that, we are bad and wrong. Then we feel worthlessness, rejected and alone. In relation to God, we are sinners because, we violated God’s laws.
Is there a way out of these feelings and experiences?
Adopted and rephrased from the book Shame Interrupted by Edward T. Welch
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[To be continued]