Shame: Pros and cons

Photo: Courtesy.
By Dra. Margarita Mendoza Burgos

"Do not be ashamed", the phrase much heard and repeated ad nauseam, it replicates as if those simple magic words were enough to control the shame.

No, it is definitely something more complex. Shame is part of both animal and human nature.

It is very connected with the principles and values, with the like or dislike we cause for ourselves and for others, that's why we are afraid to face fear, to the negative judgment of others and one's own.

Much of that inner grief is learned through parenting, and so, the more repressive the upbringing, the greater the feelings of shame. This is a logical consequence: repression undermines our self-esteem.

There is definitely a relationship between self-esteem and shame., what usually causes us shame are those situations in which we feel humiliated and it is the more people realize it, the greater the degree of it, doing something wrong is one of them, Either unintentionally or because it was on purpose and someone discovered us.

It's funny because human beings are born without shame, that feeling of grief we acquire as we grow, this occurs between two and three years of life, when the child is already aware of himself and knows that the people around him consider that some of his behaviors are inappropriate, in fact, it is no coincidence that people tend to be uninhibited by alcohol or drugs, because precisely those substances cause the loss of contact with reality.

Something is for sure: shame conditions our actions, and in many cases it can be a heavy backpack to carry.

There are people who may feel excessive fear of being ridiculed or rejected and because of this they apply a kind of self-censorship, that is to say, they stop trying many situations or acts in which they feel they will not give the width and will be exposed to humiliation.

It is true that shame avoids us many times, make a fool, but it is also the perfect excuse to avoid trying something that in the end we can even be very good.

Then it becomes a drag on our development: for example, when we avoid certain situations that would really do us good just because we are afraid of making a mistake and being exposed.

For this it is important to identify if ours is a functional or dysfunctional shame, the first is the one that helps us avoid mistakes and protect ourselves in certain threatening contexts, the second, instead, It is the one that tends to invade everything to block us and not let us progress.

A good example of how to overcome dysfunctional shame is the case of demosthenes, great greek speaker, who was a stutterer, but nevertheless, that inability did not paralyze or frustrate him, quite the opposite, he would put pebbles in his mouth to practice until he managed to overcome his impediment and become a renowned speaker.

Remember that stuttering increases with the fear and / or anxiety of looking bad when speaking. That's why it's important, first of all, identify what are the things that make us ashamed to work on them, it could be public speaking, dance, be more honest with others, etc.

If the shame is due to low self-esteem or unfounded fears, it can improve a lot, it will be more difficult when it is caused by something that we have really done wrong and it is in evidence, time and trying to resolve the situation in the best possible way can also help.