How many of us can remember these words “have you no shame?” Regardless of the specific language (in my case, Gujrati), we can all recount time after time of being scolded in this manner.
In the Indian community, we are taught that we need shame. That shame is good for us. We are constantly being reinforced with the idea that others’ impressions of us are more important than our own wellbeing and our own internal suffering.
Sure, you might feel horrible, you might be completely out of place, but sit tight, look pretty, and speak (only) when you are spoken to. Don’t be a burden, don’t be a nuisance.
Brene Brown says that “In the absence of love and belonging is always suffering,” and that “True connection comes from being seen, heard, and valued.”
When we are taught shame, we are being separated from that very connection that we so desperately desire.
So many of the beliefs that I personally held about myself, that “I am not good enough,” and that “I am unlovable,” all came from the aspects of shame that I was taught growing up.
There is an incredibly important distinction between shame and guilt.
Shame says “I am bad,” while guilt says “I did something bad.”
Guilt can be a positive feeling that teaches us that we are acting outside of alignment. When we do something that we feel guilty about, we realize that our actions were not a true reflection of our Higher Self. However, when we allow ourselves to internalize our negative actions as who we are, we run the risk of punishing ourselves rather than reconciling our negative actions.
Studies show that shame increases the likelihood of addiction, depression, aggression, violence, and anger. However, guilt actually has an inverse correlation with these same behaviors and emotions.
This is because when we truly believe that we are bad, we find no value in ourselves.
We don’t hold ourselves in high self-worth, and fall into depression, or substance abuse, or find other ways of acting out.
In my own experience, my first experience with depression was brought on by grief. I isolated myself, would run to the bathroom during every class period to cry in high school, and didn’t open up to anyone about it.
My pain was so surreal, and I had never experienced anything like it. I couldn’t open up to my parents. I didn’t feel right opening up to most of my friends because I internalized my depression to feel that something was wrong with me, that I was broken or ungrateful, rather than experiencing a mental disorder for the first time in my life.
But there’s good news: Shame cannot survive being spoken.
We must allow ourselves, trust in ourselves, and believe in our worth enough to know that we cannot go on blaming ourselves. We cannot keep isolating ourselves, running to public bathrooms and hiding in our bedrooms to deal with the pain.
We must share our struggles and our shame.
True connection comes from being seen, heard, and valued.
Allow yourself to be seen. To be heard, and to be valued.
You are worth it.
Share your #ShameChronicles in the comments below! Or, if the Shame is just that real, send your story in privately to BetiGrewUp@Gmail.com!