Get off the shame train and own your story

There is literally nothing more stifling than shrinking under the weight of being shamed. Whether we’re ashamed of something in and of ourselves, or whether we’re being shamed by someone else; shame is a destructive emotion rooted in fear and manifested as judgment.

Shame is making a value judgement on your character based on something you (or someone else) deems to be wrong. It’s like saying you’re a failure because you’ve failed, or that you’re a mistake because you made a mistake.

Parents often utilize shame as a tool for raising children; they shame children in attempts at teaching them “right” and “wrong”. Unfortunately, shame is an insidious tactic and a lot of people forget to separate the character from its behaviour. Parents caution “you’d better not do that, because it’s bad” and thus their child identifies as “bad” when they inevitably do perform such action. Let’s be honest, people usually create what they fear, right?

Or, if the magnet swings the opposite direction, these parents raise their children to be judgemental assholes, projecting their insecurities (for all the things they were shamed out of doing) onto everyone else.

There’s a particular distinction between doing bad and being bad. People shouldn’t have to convince anyone that they’re good enough. It’s not up to someone else to determine your value or whether you should be proud of who you are. So you made a mistake? Great, it shows you where you need to grow. So you hurt someone’s feelings? That’s unfortunate, now you’ll learn how to own it and apologize.

Humans are flawed; we weren’t created to be perfect. Shameful people shame people, and it’s truly sad because often we internalize that shame and believe it. Don’t forget: in a shame situation, there’s more to be said about the person DOING the shaming, compared to the person BEING shamed. That’s not to say you should never feel bad about anything you do in life, just that you shouldn’t measure your self-worth and character based on “shameful” mistakes or lack of achievements.


This article was originally featured on The Goddess Rebellion.

Shannon Leigh is a writer, hand letterer and modern-day curious cat who’s particularly fond of cold weather and big-picture thinking. You can follow her on Medium, find more of her writing at The Goddess Rebellion or explore all her hand lettering and cat photos at @shanleighwats. Shannon’s new articles are posted every Tuesday for The Leading so check back weekly and please recommend this post!