“Shame is a soul eating emotion.” C. G. Jung
Lately, I've been encountering a good bit of shame and guilt in friends of mine. It seems to go along with having been brought up in an especially religious household. Apparently, the church universal has used the tools of shame and guilt to keep people on the straight and narrow for thousands of years. Although, I have had times in my life when I felt shame, some of it rightfully so, this is not a particular plague for me. I'm glad for that because shame and guilt are not constructive emotions.
Most of the shame I see today, especially among women, comes from a failure to be perfect in their own eyes. According to Brene Brown, “Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment and blame.” (The Gifts of Imperfection) It seems to stem from an unbalanced belief that perfect is an achievable state. That there is such a thing as perfect, and if one just works hard enough one can achieve it. It's kind of ridiculous when you think about it.
Unless you happen to be a serial killer, work for a drug cartel, are a thief, or are a self-serving politician, guilt is not a helpful emotion. Too often it motivates us to do more damage than good. Too often we alter what is best in ourselves in the futile attempt to achieve an unattainable ideal. We even lose touch with our own true nature, our own heart, in the effort to ameliorate the discomfort of imperfection. It's a sad state of affairs to spend our one precious life chasing the ghost of perfection, especially when all we ever need to do is be exactly who we are all of the time, with whomever we meet.
In the Spirit,