Extract from my book “What are you afraid of “
The Rest of this chapter will consider two factors that have a very negative effect on self esteem. I would say they are like siblings in a negative family group. With the feeling of low value or low self esteem the close association of shame and guilt jump on the back of the self. With a perspective in life including these siblings of the inner self , shame and guilt have a negative relationship who the self has become today.
“Shame on you” is the response of a mother who rebuked her young son for being cruel to the neighbours cat by throwing a small stone at the defensive animal. What is shame? How is shame constructed in our emotional development? How can shame be encouraged to move out and away from us? The different interpretations of what shame is relative. Depends on your culture , religious and educational status. There are common narratives of the meaning of shame and the simplest meaning of having shame is a feeling of being damaged. This could include a physical disfigurement or sexual abuse. On top of this concept it is the self perception who we are. The beliefs of what others think and say can make the self feel damaged.
A great concept by Joseph Burgo proposed four different types of shame. This will help to identify the shame that harasses some from childhood until today. His theory is 1:unrequited love. 2:unwanted exposure. 3:Disappointed expectation 4:exclusion. What is the essence of these ideas and how does this relate to low value of self.
The first idea of unrequited love is rejection of someone we love or have feelings for. This first occurs in childhood from narcissistic parents who fail to reciprocate love to thier children. The newborn baby fails to learn emotional intelligence from its mother as it mirrors the mother’s emotional story. This rejection also happens when the love for someone else is not reciprocated by actions and words.
The second concept of shame is unwanted exposure by being humiliated by someone exposing the person faults whether they are true or false. This could be an embarrassing situation that leads to shame because of the propensity of what was done in the self perspective and that of others.
Thirdly disappointed expectations is an often occurrence in many personal lives. We fail to get that job we wanted and feel it was our own fault or self worth why we didn’t get the job. The mistakes made in various situations is redirect back to others. It can be autonomous but others blaming the other-self for the breakdown of a relationship.
Finally the fourth shame concept is exclusion from activities and social groups. Humans have an desire to be loved , connected and feel special with a belonging. This in essence how our value of social , family , and others is measured. Thier dictates of who we are and what we should be not considering personal evaluations of self.
When we consider the different appraisals of shame it helps understands an event has knocked us off balance with shame jumping on to us like a leach. These may be subconsciously locked away or it may hit us in the face by an event or trigger. Shame can eat away inhibiting future growth of the self. Shame can sink the self into a depressive state being manifested by posture , moods and negative thinking of the self value.
Traumatic events or a lifetime of unresolved conflicts with the self will feed the shame like a cancer that grows with every negative experience The expression “where there is blame there is pain” underscores the judgements of self and others will embrace the shame we carry as a close companion or sibling. The other sibling of guilt comes into the home of our mind and shakes hands with shame making the self more victimised. The brother Shame and sister guilt organise a party when the self arrive home after a long emotional day. The news of failure from the tears of self are welcomed by shame and guilt as they prepare to celebrate another victory of blame on the self. The self tries to hide from shame and guilt but they continue to hunt the self down with another confidence trick of failure. Another guest low self esteem arrives at the unsolicited party and joins in with singing and dancing with shame and with guilt and the misery continues with self.