Saturday, October 11, 2014

Overcoming Negativity: Day 10: Shame on You!

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Today's Challenge: 
Don't turn embarrassment further inward toward shame 

Yesterday's challenge was to take responsibility for your actions--Step One of leaving the Land of Negativity. Today, I'm proposing in a way, that you don't take responsibility. Huh?

We need to learn to discern between embarrassment and shame. 

Step Two of leaving the Land of Negativity is recognizing the negative thoughts, emotions and attitudes. And recognizing their source.

Sometimes things happen to us that cause us embarrassment. It happens. Sometimes we're even made fun of about it. Our co-workers, family and friends will kid us about our stupidity for falling for something. Someone will laugh at us when we trip over something. It's all in good fun.

But sometimes it goes further and we're mocked or ridiculed. If we're not grounded in who we are in Christ, those words can hurt. Embarrassment quickly turns to shame. The outward embarrassment turns inward. We're stupid. The battle lines are drawn and we retreat.

Shame is a bit different from embarrassment. Embarrassment is about being uncomfortable, distressed, having extreme discomfort about something that has been witnessed or revealed to others (source). It's more of a socially awkward thing that happens than a personal thing.

We can experience embarrassment without experiencing shame

Like the time I called a number on Craig's List about an advertisement for adult actors making $500 a day. Wow, I thought, that's a really good rate for a day actor. Yes, you get it. But I didn't. It took me awhile. I actually asked questions and talked to the guy, who was, by the way, very vague and did not come right out and tell me it was porn. When I finally got it, I was mortified! Embarrassed? Yes. Ashamed? No. I laughed about my naivete. And I told everyone about it! Because it was actually quite funny.

I was embarrassed about something I did. But I wasn't ashamed of who I was. If I'd followed through with the "audition"...well, that would have been a whole different story!

Embarrassment is about what you did
Shame is about who you are.
Recognizing the difference is the first step toward breaking free.

Shame doesn't just happen. It starts when we're young. Little seeds of ridicule are thrown into the fertile soil of our souls and a tree of shame begins to grow. It feeds on the negative barbs of others. It lies and repeats the mocking ridicule like a crow, "caw-cawing" in your head, only it changes the accusing voice of "You're" to the inner negative self-talk of "I". Things like:
  • I'm ugly                    
  • I'm unlikable
  • I'm unlovable
  • I'm not good enough
  • I'm fat
and so on.

One of my favorite quotes (and probably the only one I can ever remember) is from Eleanor Roosevelt:


No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Shame can only grow if you let it. 

The tree of shame that has grown so tall in you can be destroyed. It won't happen by simply chopping it down-just thinking good thoughts about yourself-because that crow will just keep coming back and finding a branch somewhere to roost. It's a never-ending battle.

It must be destroyed by the roots. Get to the root of the shame. And rip it out. Then sow seeds of Truth. Don't leave the ground fallow or the roots will regrow. 

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. 
Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. 
He who vindicates me is near. 
Who then will bring charges against me? (Is 50:7-8)

Do not be afraid; 
you will not suffer shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
...the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer (Is 54:4-6)

I have loved you with an everlasting love; 
I have drawn you with loving-kindness (Jer 31:3)

Ask the Lord to help you break the cycle of shame. See yourself as God sees you---beautiful, likable, lovable, complete and whole in who you were meant to be. He fashioned you to be unique, not to be cut down in shame.

It's your choice. Make it a wise one.

Blessings Along the Path,

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