How Shame Follows Us

I have a question: were you taught to be ashamed of being different?

What if you really weren’t “ashamed of yourself”?

Shame is one of the most complex feelings I have experienced in my life. I still don’t understand completely how shame works. My understanding of shame was always through the eyes of others.

People would tell you how you we’re supposed to act and if you didn’t follow through than you were shamed for it. Shame has troubled me my whole life because I have never understood how it fits into my life.

Is it shame because I didn’t act in the way my friend wanted me to act or is it shame because I’m uncomfortable with my own behavior? This is where I get confused on the matter. Is it only shame when I disappoint someone else? Should I even care that I disappointed this person? Where do we draw the line?

I have allowed shame to follow me throughout my life. I have seen it play out time and time again. The older I get the less I understand what I’m always supposed to be ashamed over. Is that bad?

My childhood was filled with moments where I was told by my parents or other adults : you should be ashamed of yourself!

Yet, I was young and didn’t even understand the definition of what shame was beyond the fact I didn’t want to upset my parents. I didn’t even understand shame TO BE ashamed at that point. Does this make sense?

I was always being told by others what I was supposed to be ashamed about and that I need to navigate my life accordingly. I fought against it every step of the way. I would have been better off if people explained things to me as a kid.

It turned out most of what I was supposed to be ashamed of – I wasn’t actually ashamed of- and it was others whose approval was supposed to mean more to me than my feelings. Yet, I didn’t realize this until I my mid 30s.

I didn’t understand until my mid 30s that I was raised to care about other people’s pleasure and approval above everything. Their embarrassment was supposed to my embarrassment. Their disappointment was my disappointment. I was supposed to OWN other people’s shame!

I told myself finally last year – it’s over. I’m done. I’m releasing this toxic issue from my life. I want to only take on my own shame and acknowledge it. I’m no longer interested in caring what others want to put on my shoulders because of their personal issues. Your shame is not my shame.

This is the first time I have really addressed this. I hope it helps some of you to know you are not alone if this is also your story.

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