What is/isn’t shame, the causes, triggers? Where does shame stem from, others, yourself, a combination? What impact can the feeling of shame have on someone?

When asked to share my thoughts around ‘shame’ the first thing which came to mind was when I was on the brink of bankruptcy. I felt such a failure, the shame didn’t come from anyone as I had told no-one.

The shame stemmed from myself and the reality that my previous decisions had caused me to be in such a dire situation. Nobody was to blame, it was down to my own spending habits, lack of care and attention and a marriage breakdown thrown in for good measure. Although I would be lying if I said the shame of other people finding out wasn’t a factor in the heaviness of it all. 

Are there positives to it?

I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a positive to feeling shame, in my experience. Due to my lack of wanting to tell anyone and fear of other people’s opinions I didn’t declare bankruptcy. By not doing so, my only option was to dust myself off, brush my teeth, get dressed and go to a local cafe (for wifi as mine was turned off due to not paying bills) and dive back into my business with all I had, as the shame left me with no plan b. It certainly taught me that whilst I felt shame, I could still be proud of myself which soon drowned out the shame.

Are some people more prone to feeling shame? If so, why?

I certainly feel people who are more susceptible of other people’s opinions can suffer with shame more than those who couldn’t give a flying fig, because they could possibly be spinning in the spiral of shame based on what they “think” others will think or say. 

Does it matter whether shame is perceived or real? Are the feelings still the same?

Isn’t there a saying which says “perception is reality”. Whether or not people would understand or perceive my nearing bankruptcy to be something to feel ashamed about, the fact was shame was real for me and felt suffocating and embarrassing all in the same breath.

How can you recover from feelings of shame, if a) something has actually happened, and b) it’s something your mind has conjured up? 

If your shame is linked to something you feel you didn’t do/ did do/ could have done better, I would lovingly suggest that you look back and realise you are human and everyone messes up at some point. Every single human being on this planet has made a big mess out of something (relationship, money, health, university, business, career, drunk dialling the ex!) at some point.  So no matter the depths of shame you might be feeling, as the old saying goes: “today’s newspapers will be tomorrows fish and chip papers” or the metro paper you’ve just read might be used to start that cozy fire in your lounge as the summer begins to end. Point being, nothing lasts forever… not even your shame. 

Let me know if this has helped you at all or feel free to share if you think it will help someone.

Much love,

Stacey x