I was raised by “If you cannot say something nice, zip your lips” parents. Then I met my tell-all husband, and I became more me. Are you hiding or being you?
I hide little. Partly because I know we hade because of shame. What I call Stupid Shame sews your mouth shut.
Shame serves only one reasonable purpose–to keep you from doing the unthinkable. My guru, Jerome Kagan points out that shame develops right when older siblings become capable of killing younger siblings. That kind of shame is nature’s way of preventing the sin of Cain.
Clearly most of us might want to kill our siblings or our spouses or our best friend or our nasty neighbors and might even enjoy thinking how we would carry out such a dastardly deed; but such killings are rare enough to prove that thoughts are just thoughts. Some religions make such thoughts mortal sins. One of the things I mean by Stupid Shame.
Moreover, some cultures and families have personal lists of shameful sins. When I was eight or nine, I came home and asked my mother what the F-word meant. Someone had scrawled it hither and yon in the girls’ bathroom. My question was innocent, my mothers reaction was not. She dragged me to the kitchen and poured Old Dutch Cleanser in my mouth. When I remember that incident, I can still see that Old Dutch Lady running after her geese with a stick.
Thereafter, the mere thought of the F word made me blush and it took almost a year of analysis to actually say the word. I was in the kind of treatment where the rule was say everything you think. Important lesson: thoughts and words are just that.
Now, I love the F-word. Adore its power to shock. I have used it effectively to make a mockery of Stupid Shame. I pull it out occasionally for it becomes blunted if thrown at others too often. I use it to sleeping student, make someone listen to me more carefully, or to call mega-attention to something I find offensive.
Privacy is fine, stupid shame is not. Do a reality check for all you don’t talk about? Are you a child molester then shame isn’t doing its job.
Shame either keeps you from cruel, hurtful behavior or it is stupid shame. When the behavior harms no one, shame harms you.
As K.R. Jamison, author and clinical psychologist noted, “I am tired of hiding, tired of misspent and knotted energies, tired of the hypocrisy, and tired of acting as though I have something to hide.”
Emotional Fitness Training Tips
Tip one: Rate all the things you are ashamed of on this scale: One: Harms no one. Two: Will create social disapproval. Three: Physically harmful to me or others.
Tip two: Rate the items listed under social disapproval on this scale: One: /will still be loved by all my friends and family. Two: Will be disapproved by some family and friends; Three: Will be shunned by most, fired, arrested, or killed if shared.
Tip three: Stop all behaviors that will get you arrested or that harms you or others.
Tip four: If you cannot stop behavior that harms you or others or might get you arrested get therapy.
Tip five: Start sharing Stupid Shame meaning. Do not keep secret the things above that have a rating of One or Two.
Stupid Shame dies when shared, so if you are a victim of Stupid Shame, find someone safe to tell. The right therapist, priest or a rabbi might help, but beware of those who add to shame. Often a good friend is just as helpful. Either way take steps to get Stupid Shame out of your life and that starts with sharing.
Tip six: Take a stance against Stupid Shame. You can start by noting the various media’s attempts to create Stupid Shame. Think about how the air blown, whitened teeth, anorexic bodies induce shame in many beautiful woman who do not meet that standard.
Stand against put-down jokes.
Stand against all disparaging labels. All labels are generalizations and all generalizations twist thinking.
Simply noting what you don’t like and labeling it Stupid Shame works.
Tip seven: In your efforts to stand against Stupid Shame, follow this 12 Step advice: “Say what you mean, mean what you say and don’t say it mean.”
Parenting tHoughts and tip
Far too many parent advisers think parents are to blame for shame. Another bit of Stupid Shame. As Kagan points out if develops on its own. That does not mean parents do not contribute to what nature starts. So here are three tips reduce the grip Stupid Shame
Tip one: Get your own Stupid Shame under control. As always kids are sponges picking up on our real feelings, our conflicts, and what controls us. The more you get straight about Stupid Shame the better for your kids.
Tip two: Concentrate on enforcing the four rules that lead all to the good life. Remember them: Safety, Respect for all Living Things, Respect for Property, and Respect for Reasonable laws. Teach and enforce this in ways that match the child’s age and stage. Safety can be taught as child starts walking, Respect as child is mobile and has mastered language; what a reasonable laws as the child enters his teens.
Tip three: Be tough and caring. Learn and Use the Care Plan.
Thank you for all you do. Thank me by remembering sharing is caring; so is liking, or commenting. Your caring keeps me going.
This post is related to this WordPress DAILY PROMPT Climate Control – The idea that the weather and people’s moods are connected is quite old. Do you agree? If yes, how does the weather affect your mood?
When Stupid Shame heats you up, ask yourself, “What are you doing that is making you blush; most likely it is Stupid Shame. Label it and banish it.
LINKS OF INTEREST
These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.
Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises (www.emotionalfitnesstraining.com
The five components of Emotional Intelligence (www.sonoma.edu)Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)Emotional Fitness Tips for Parents (parentsarepeopletoo.com)
An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents(amazon.com)