collateral beauty

People feel shame for many different reasons and in a variety of ways. In some situations, there are self-doubts, another triggers embarrassment. Do you remember the experience of feeling frozen when just a minute before we were full of ideas? All the senses of inadequacy, such as tension, confusion, shame, are rooted in external and internal perceptions.  

Despite the fact that shame is an unpleasant feeling, it still has several sides that are either negative or positive in nature. Basically, it evolves beneficially for preventing damaging social relationships. The normal amount of societal shame is bearable, based on external norms. It focuses on self-regulation and is known as creative shame.

On the other hand, shame as an internalized feeling can be stemming from prior unhealthy communication experience and affect personal priorities and self-picture. It is called toxic shame, for the individual’s belief of being flawed and unworthy of love lead to self-evaluation withdrawal.

It becomes apparent that the two types of shame, creative and toxic, differ in function: the first helps to socialize, while the second causes a harmful effect on self-esteem and ability of building connection with others.

Considering circumstances as an invitation for personal growth, I explore the shame phenomena from the perspective of productive input in my life. Let us look at the image on the left that illustrates a shade of shame from my perception.

The focal point is a yellow circle – a symbol of hidden ideas or needs that have been criticized or rejected in the past. The impeccable shape of the ‘desire’ is neat and accurate for emphasizing the unfounded criticism… yet the wish had the misfortune of being negated: the waves of green and red are leaking from the top and block the impulse.

The connection between pure desire and suffocating green mud is a black stem. It sprouts through the swampy curtain and represents dragging the current situation into old issues. Thus, the negative thoughts close up the circle-desire and paralyze the impulse. Sometimes people try to avoid such an experience of suppression, ergo it makes them hiding the precious part even from themselves.

In essence,  shame starts as a belief which translates into an emotion; then the feeling transforms into physical expression and creates a personal experience. The social way of suppressing anger, rage, or arousal, is proven helpful, for these emotions are full of uncontrollable energy, and therefore, dangerous for society. Meanwhile, anger is an effective motivator for achieving goals and setting healthy boundaries. As for excitement, not necessarily sexual, it has various traits, such as the human interest for recognizing similarities; in the contrary, a huge tension for another person’s differences could cause the desire to solve the mystery.

For walking through the opened gates to hidden needs, we have to take one step further towards innermost desire. Shame is a signal that solution and joy are close. Suffice to say, bound to happen once the rejected part is found, explored, and accepted.

D r e a m  o u t