By Deborah Dickerson
Shame has been showing up for me quite a bit in how I approach some areas of my life and the behavior that follows – which is not always pleasant and manifests seemingly on its own. So I have decided to observe my shame experiences and explore the value of shame.
How does shame impact me, my view of the world, our culture, etc.? It seems that our culture, particularly the Christian religion, has an obsession with shame. We are told that we are born in sin and then the shaming of ourselves begins. Usually passed down in particular ways from one generation to the next. I call this our lineage. Those things that we become (though not really who we are), based on the culture and families we are born into. Though it is passed down, why does shame have us feel separate from each other and the world?
Lately, I’ve begun to look at it in another way: How shame relates to blessing. It seems that when shame is not present, I am able to experience the blessing of life – to see the blessing we all are to one another, including myself. So given that, doesn’t it make sense to reduce feelings and behaviors of shame so that blessings can appear?
It may not be quite that simple, for if we remove all shame and are just blessing, how do we experience blessing, how do we know blessing? Please do not hear this as an argument for the shaming that most of us experience as we grow up. This is an inquiry into the relationship of shame and blessing. To maybe find the gift of shame, to explore the relationship of these two experiences and to see if they are related in some as yet unexplored way.
What if shame could become a gift? Not the behavior or necessarily the feeling of shame itself, but like a doorway into something much bigger. Could sharing our shame with another also allow love and compassion for all of us to experience? So that when we see another in pain, we have empathy instead of judgment or separateness? Maybe in recognizing the presence of shame, particularly in another, we allow our hearts to open.
This seems to be an area of fertile ground that calls for further exploration. Please let me know your thoughts on blessing and shame. What role do these experiences play in your life?
Deborah Dickerson is a traveler and wanderer who enjoys being in nature. She is very interested in the nature of reality, our view of ourselves and how we make choices in our society.