"The opposite of shame is empathy" Brene Brown
I caught the beginning of an act of shame. As I drove away, the context of what was happening dawned on me. He was trying to shame them into good behavior.
Is that even possible?
He had a smile on his face...he was pleased with what he had come up with to gain compliance by a few folks who ignored the rules.
It wasn't what the sign said, nor the non-compliance...but rather how pleased he was for singling them out...that stayed with me.
His pleasure at shaming him...showed his character.
I pondered his response to clients who were disrespecting the rules, and realized this was familiar.
The old me would have approved.
I used to use shame as a way to control others and make them behave.
It seems insane to me now.
But, when I was powerless...I made those with less power...even less powerful.
To use shame to get others to respect rules...is to use disrespectful behavior and expect to be respected. It is all twisted up and backwards.
My old mothering reflected this insanity.
I don't know for sure what changed my shame based mothering to empathetic?
It must have something to do with my acceptance of my abuse and the lack of shame about being abused...that changed me.
The old me would derisively point out others faults to raise me up.
or out loud.
Putting them down to be higher.
What an exhausting way to live...and so powerless.
Using someone else to feel powerful.
Co-dependent for sure.
As I neutralized the shame, I no longer needed anyone to be lower than I, to feel my own worth. I no longer needed shame.
Imagine. I used shaming others to feel powerful. Lower them to raise me up, without a care to how it left them being.
In fact, somehow in my twisted mind, I believed that they would see the error of their ways and comply...
Like I was doing them a favor for pointing out their shortcomings.
I know this was a learned behavior, either from the church or from how I was raised...or both.
It was only when I found peace with my abuse; did I learn to interact with others on an even playing field.
I can recall feeling so inept with allowing others to control their own worlds...in letting go of being dependent upon them for my self-worth.
It was to be completely empty...but, not worthless.
There was a line in a book I was listening to....and he said he was emptied from the experience of being a prisoner of war....and that all he wanted to do now, was to fill himself with joy. "Unbroken" is the name of the book.
This made sense to me.
I too recall feeling of wanting to go out and find things that brought me love, peace and joy.
I guess, when you have been emptied of shame....there is a wide open space to be filled...
My soul was thirsty for things I loved...even to know love.
I was no longer tolerant of things that didn't feel like peace...and no longer tolerated untruths that stole my peace.
Joy was a feeling I longed for...and captured in a 1,000 different ways.
I came alive...or lived for the first time; when I no longer felt ashamed.
It is interesting, I felt ashamed...before I knew my truth.
And, when my denial broke...shame left me.
I was an empty me...waiting for me to find things that reflected who I was.
I began to build me.
What is interesting to me, is that I no longer felt shame or ashamed of my truth....and yet others treated me as something shameful.
It is like the inner shame became outer shame. But the outer shame had no impact on me...for inside of me I was filled with empathy for me and my journey....my truth.
It is so much better having shame on the outside as others view you....compared to feeling that you are shame.
Once I felt shameless...nothing anyone can say or do will be able to put it back inside of me.
Truth and self-acceptance neutralizes shame.