Here’s why and what to do instead

Shame has been around for a long time. We’re familiar with it. But that doesn’t make it good. Shame is never good for any reason. Shame is bad. Shaming words get thrown around without regard to the damage they wield in the human soul.

How many times have you been told shame on you, or you should be ashamed of yourself? Did it motivate you to act in a responsible way or just make you feel awful?

And then there’s the practice of public shaming. Shame is something that haunts people for years.

Shame is powerful, toxic and at its worst, it can be deadly.

I’ll show you what IS good because there’s a better way to deal with each other.

Shame is powerful, toxic and at its worst, it can be deadly.

WHY PEOPLE SHAME

People shame others for many reasons.

  • They feel intimidated by someone or have been subjected to shame themselves, so they wield shame in an attempt to elevate themselves — oftentimes this is what’s going on in the heart of a bully.
  • Others wield shame subconsciously projecting their own self-shame onto others — like when a child’s behavior embarrasses a parent and the parent retaliates with shame. This damages both the shamer and the shamed.
  • Some have good intentions but don’t realize they’re causing harm instead of helping. They try to get someone to take responsibility for unacceptable behavior with shame. But that’s not what shame does.

Shame will never bring good. Shame destroys.

Shame will never bring good. Shame destroys

WHY NOT SHAME

Shame doesn’t correct behavior but indicts and condemns the person.

Shame — a painful emotion caused by the belief that one is, or is perceived by others to be, inferior or unworthy of affection or respect because of one’s actions, thoughts, circumstances, or experiences. A condition of disgrace or dishonor. source

Shame attacks our inherent value. Shame says there’s no coming back from this, no recovery, no hope, you’re bad, worthless and deserve to die. Shame drives people into hiding.

Shame is a soul eating emotion. ― C.G. Jung

When we shame someone it’s deeper than words. It cuts to the soul and feels like death. Shaming has been the precursor to many a suicide. Shaming people is destructive and hateful.

Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change. ―Brené Brown

We are not what we do. Who we are and what we do are connected but they are not the same. Shame is judgment without mercy.

Shaming a person gives them no opportunity to take responsibility and make a change.

A BETTER WAY

When wrong has been done and change needs to be made there is a better way than shaming. Guilt and responsibility — which go together — will bring about positive change.

Guilt — the fact of being responsible for the commission of an offense; moral culpability. Responsibility for a mistake or error. source

Guilt addresses the behavior — what someone does, instead of who they are.

When someone does something wrong they’re guilty. Accepting that guilt is the beginning of change and brings the need for a response — responsibility.

  • Taking responsibility can be a simple admission of guilt and sincere apology.
  • Other times there may need to be consequences. Things ranging from time outs and removal of privileges for children; to community service or prison for adults.

Admission of guilt and accepting responsibility is good character which leads people to change and better themselves.

A person who helps someone take responsibility is doing a good thing.

A person who helps someone take responsibility is doing a good thing.

WHAT IS GOOD

Although it might seem trite — love is the answer, the ultimate good — the Bible calls it a more excellent way. Love has the best interest in mind regarding all parties involved in any relationship.

When guilt has been admitted along with a willingness to take responsibility there are times for mercy and there’s always grace.

What’s going on in our heart is the heart of the matter.

We all make mistakes. Mistakes are things we do — not who we are. We can change and that will affect our behavior.

Grace, mercy, and forgiveness go a long way in building character in the human soul.

Grace, mercy, and forgiveness go a long way in building character in the human soul.

I’ve suffered debilitating shame from others. I’ve also suffered due to shaming myself. My own heart condemned me when I felt guilty of something until grace, mercy, and forgiveness healed my soul. All three of these flow from love.

It took me a long time to believe this Love.

I’m not the only hard head though.

In the beginning, when God created mankind there was no shame.

  • Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. Genesis 5:25 NIV
  • And they are both of them naked, the man and his wife, and they are not ashamed of themselves. Genesis 5:25 YLT

Everything God made was good. Having no shame was good.

Then humanity became guilty of betrayal. The Bible calls it the fall. God didn’t respond or retaliate with shame. God chose another way, the better way.

Adam and Eve hid out of self-condemnation, just like I did.

God called out to them offering them the opportunity to take responsibility. Sadly, instead of admission, they chose to blame — a form of shame.

Out of love and mercy, God kept them from the Tree of Life that would’ve locked them in shame forever. Lost in their self-reliance, hard-headed humanity at large stayed trapped in that shame.

But then grace appeared and changed everything.

Grace says you have a choice and you are loved.

Everything God made was good. Having no shame was good.

WHAT NOW

  • Shame lies, you are worthy of love! — A gift of love for you here

Visit Danielle at DanielleBernock.com

Introverted encourager, author & blogger who wants you to know you matter & love heals at DanielleBernock.com.
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Introverted encourager, author & blogger who wants you to know you matter & love heals at DanielleBernock.com.

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