“Shame on you!” Have you been told this once, twice maybe many times throughout your life and even found yourself regurgitate it to your children without giving it a second thought? Shame – what was once the way most parents inserted their authority to their children’s “wrong-doing”, can now be found on about every newsstand (magazine) for entertainment purposes. Unfortunately over time, we (society) have simply become numb and desensitized to the feeling of “shame” and “humiliation”. We so easily cast it onto others with such limited and skewed insights to their life, with little to no compassion and a whole lot of judgment. Between the Internet and that of social media these are a deadly combination to spotlighting the “shame game” now more than ever.
Over the past several years, there has been a lot of conversation called around that of shame – thanks to Brene Brown, vulnerability researcher, who took to the TED stage in 2012 and who shared how shame is “an unspoken epidemic and the secret behind many forms of broken behavior” (as quoted by TED). This could not be more true of a statement.
What seems so accepting in today’s culture – merely by the standards in which we have set and in turn succumbed to unconsciously – is now destroying lives (literally) as well as emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. Our children are at the forefront of all the past seeds that have been laid before them and we are urged to change the trajectory of shame to that of love, light and hope if we wish to see a better world for them.
In a recent TED Talk by Monica Lewinsky, she says “Public shaming as a blood sport has to stop.” In this brave talk, she takes a hard look at our online culture of humiliation, and asks for a different way. She continues to say “we need to return to a long held value of compassion and empathy.”
These are two very empowering methods to that of conscious parenting. I believe everything starts at home, everything, and it is through our own awakening, our own choice words with our children, our own connection with them for compassion, dialogue, validation, self-worth that we can begin to put an end to shame as a blood sport.
In The Conscious Parent, Dr. Shefali addresses some very insightful and profound teachings relating to that of shame. “When we presume we understand the motivation behind our children’s actions and judge the negatively, we trigger in them a sense of helplessness. For instance, we make fun of them or even ridicule them, compare them to their friends, and put them down in front of others. When we approach our children in this manner, especially our teens, they soon wall us out of what they are feeling. So hurt are they by our constant judgment of them that they become immune to our input. We think this is because they ‘don’t care,’ which is to further judge them. Little do we realize they are tired of living in shame, tired of being thought ‘bad’.”
Take the latter and then put that same child (turned adult) into a society who immerses them further with more judgement, cruelty and shame. Where can one feel safe, supported and protected when all surrounding environments are throwing daggers? It is through the vicious and painful cycle that we keep putting out into the world what we are taking in (receiving) and leaves no wonder why and how we are where we are with a mainstream feeling of numbness.
At the end of the day, we are all somebody’s child no matter what our age. We need to remember this when we are gossiping about someone else’s life. We would not dare want that to be the life of ourselves or our child on the newsstands so let’s start to think before we act and speak onto another. When we take a moment to really ingest this concept and humanize each other is when we can be more sensitized and alive to the heart and soul that lies within us all.