Blush|More than just Red

“Man is the only Animal that blushes or needs to” Mark Twain

To pass my six hours flight in which I was mostly awake (although am really not sure about that … see, I closed my eyes and went to sleep but I was fully aware of what’s going on; the sounds, smell and turbulence … but when I opened my eyes I realized that time has gone by and things has happened that I  wasn’t aware of … its like I slept but I didn’t sleep at the same time?! Anywaays) I flipped through the pages of Psychologies, a magazine that I had found somewhere, it had many interesting articles .. one in particular that I found to be so true and interesting to read was an article titled “Dealing with Shame” by (I couldn’t find the name I think its a collection of articles)

In all societies and in ours in particular, “shame” has been a big influential factor in the way we live our lives and the way society progresses in my opinion …I sometimes feel that my body likes to betray my trust ,when I feel embarrassed and shamed my face tends to switch colours and I have to deal with a red “clownish” face … Tanis Taylor (from the article) says that all the make-up and creams she used did not help in camouflaging the outward expression of a deeper, entrenched sense of shame, but talking, recognising and addressing the cause of it ultimately did.. 

We are so lucky to own a body that communicates to us and it is important to try to listen to it … blushing is a way of letting us know that there is a deeper feeling and emotions that we need to deal with ..”Shame  regulates the expression of all our other feelings. It is the most difficult emotion to admit, and the hardest to discharge” says Thomas Scheff, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California…

Psychoanalyst Helen B Lewis identified shame as  “really a whole family of emotions including humiliation, feelings of low self-esteem, belittlement and stigmatization”.. a feeling of ‘Less than’ .. the embarrassment that often comes from the things we don’t mention or speak about..

There are many things that lead us to be shameful (especially in a place of many taboos) such as the shame that comes with a sexual abuse, weight, religious, social, education, gender, sexuality, bankruptcy, appearance etc..

We often believe (or made to believe) that the source of our shame is in fact something shameful when it is mostly not! One mistake that we make is confusing ‘doing something bad’ with ‘being someone bad’ .. ” In guilt we focus on the harm that we have done and if we can bear it or repair it’ says Paul Gilbert a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Derby ” with shame we may believe our whole self is fundamentally flawed and deficient”..

Shame comes from our upbringing and our society and I believe that as we grow up we should listen deeper to our body and emotions and filter all the harmful shame we bear..as they put it you have the following options when dealing with shame: fight, flight or disconnect … Living with shame can be devastating to our selves, lives and those around us.. ” Men may convert shame into anger and in women it tend to be depressive”  .. 

Erving Goffman wrote : there is an appreciable chance of being embarrassed and a slight chance of deeply humiliated … When you are living with shame, everyday life can be terrifying.

But not all shame is unhealthy…”A degree of shame is necessary, as it encourages sound moral behavior”  John Bradshaw …. So how do we know what is a healthy shame and what is unhealthy?

psychotherapist Sara Scott believes that the first thing to do is talk about it! By talking to a sympathetic listener in a safe environment we can break the toxic strangle hold that shame has over us.. “often these parts of the self are not nearly as bad as people think but because they’ve been so hidden away they become bigger in our minds”..

Gilbert states that “We have a threat focused system in our brain that’s activated by shame but we also have another system in our brain that is linked to forgiveness, to reconciliation, to understanding, to validation” … Healing shame comes when we replace our emotions with the latter..

The article ends with the following: Put simply, we all need to feel our feelings more. And to censor ourselves less. The real strength is to be able to bear, and share, everything that is real about us. And the crimson blushes be damned.

And I like to end this post that may have been longer than usual with: It is very easy to listen and give in to people around us and the shame they impose on us but it is much harder to ignore our body and emotions .. I learnt and still learning to listen to myself and to choose wisely what is good and healthy and what is not .. you decide how to live your life , the shoulds, the wrongs, the no nos must come from within yourself , from your beliefs and not from others … It is hard sometimes to find someone to share a deeper emotion of shame or a secret but if we look we can find (I did) … meanwhile you can blog or write a journal … but don’t waste your life living in shame … it’s not worth it..

7 responses

  1. that’s a very good article I must say Buds, thanks for sharing , by the way I’m struggling too much of being ashamed whenever I talk about some sort stuff even with close one even posting a blog I feel ashamed for whatever reason, No Idea, I’d tell you what will happen? I’d ignore the person for sometime,and lock up myself in the room for a week and just thinking and regret things, so it’s not cool anyhow though I believe everyone had lived so shameful , some let go, some stays.

    September 2, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    • always look for a non judgemental person … sometimes it could be a total stranger you meet on a trip or a therapist if thats makes you comfortable ,,, but after a while letting go is much better than holding too … remember that sometimes the people your fear judgment from often have worst things that they should be ashamed of (like judging harshly) …

      September 2, 2010 at 10:47 pm

  2. yes I mostly fear of Judgment pretty I had bad experience with judgmental people so it’s still holding inside and I Tried many things to let go and I can’t, the only thing that could set me free is telling to a closest one or a stranger in the of middle nowhere, which I had and we become pretty good girlfriends🙂 though yes judgmental people should be ashamed not who’s being judged but whom to say and when they gonna feel ashamed a9lan, maybe karma will. what you judged about the person’s happening, will happen to you too after all.

    September 2, 2010 at 11:45 pm

  3. middle of nowhere

    September 2, 2010 at 11:47 pm

  4. InQuestOf..

    “you decide how to live your life , the shoulds, the wrongs, the no nos must come from within yourself , from your beliefs and not from others …”

    Well said, but what does one do if those beliefs were not strong enough to domenate the addiction of living unleashed? Work on the addiction part? Great, but for that you need a genuine will to drive you towards recovery and change..and when you don’t have one, you need to go back and work on the beliefs part (that is normally resposible for generating products such as will and motivation)

    InQuestOf: How to “fix” your beliefs when the regular check list or to-do-list no longer works for you?!

    September 3, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    • you don’t fix your beliefs to go with your checklists … you fix your checklists and to dos to go with your beliefs … your beliefs comes from within ….
      “the addiction of living unleashed” … although I believe that is a healthy addiction I understand what you are saying here … recently I try to listen to myslef a lot … It is important for me to be healthy and happy … sometimes we confuse following our desires with happiness and that is not necessarily the case .. strip everything away and dig deep and listen to yourself coz no one knows you more than you … but it seems to me your on the right track😉

      September 3, 2010 at 5:20 pm

  5. I do forgive myself while forgiving others…

    September 3, 2010 at 8:19 pm

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