On Shame and Guilt
“…at some point, trying not to disappoint others, we end up not only disappointing them but ourselves.”
Life has shown me lately that there are two painful feelings that can take over our minds and make us regret moments, decisions, actions and/or words spoken – shame and guilt. I think I’m learning the hard way that not every thing that we enjoy makes us the person we want to become. Further more, I have learned that even the most pleasurable moment in our lives can make us feel ashamed of ourselves if the situation isn’t right. But, how come some people feel ashamed of situations where others feel so comfortable? Even worse, why do people feel the urge of making us feel ashamed of things we truly enjoy? And, how do we deal with these feelings after the harm is done?
Of course by now most people have thought of a moment they ended up regretting because of what other people thought of it. Like for example, have you ever gone out wearing the most unique and beautiful skirt you could found yesterday at the X store. For a second this skirt made you feel like a rockstar, but a minute later your coworkers, classmates or neighbors stared at you with disgust. Sooner than later a person smiled at you and asked: “Where’s the costume party?” After that you probably hung up the skirt and never wore it again (you probably ended up giving it to the salvation army)… and for a while you kept on wishing you never left your house that day. How about that time when you made out with your boyfriend/girlfriend at a public place and some old lady stared at you with disgust? Yes, she told you your behavior was indecent and that you should be very very ashamed. What do you think? Failure! Failure at being decent and worthy. You start feeling ashamed of your actions and start questioning your position toward others. The same happens when you accidentally say something out of place by mistake in the middle of a crowd or experience a brain fart when meeting the in laws… There are something we can’t take back.
Next, do you let go of the guilt your actions provoke? Do you stop thinking about the shame? How do you deal with the feelings that come after an embarrassment? Maybe letting go is the easiest to suggest, but harder to accomplish. Talking it over might also help, but the reality is that if you feel embarrassed the feeling won’t go away by telling others about it. So in my experience, the best way to deal with guilt and shame is either give the thoughts time to fade or take action. If you don’t like what you did do not do it again, if you can fix it go ahead… Or you can always think that there’s nothing anyone can judge you for that they haven’t done or that the world hasn’t seen. We all make mistakes, we all regret some moments in our lives, we all wish that we could take something back. The reality is that we can not turn back time, but we can move forward and learn from our mistakes. Today you are being judge, yesterday you were the one judging, tomorrow you’ll judge again. Anyway, life goes on and shame don’t last… and well, we learn to live with guilt.
For all those readers who didn’t follow I apologize for coming up with such a general opinion on the subject, but I find myself giving an introduction to a pair of feelings that hit us at some point in our lives. Feel free to leave your thoughts about the topic and please don’t mind my lack of structure…