May 11, 2019-
I just finished watching a TED Talk on “Shame”. This came about four hours after someone, with whom I was working as a volunteer, mildly upbraided me for not working at a paying job. (This person is not working at a paying job, either.)
I am ever willing to stand outside and be vulnerable to criticism, knowing that a) I can’t live with myself, if I am not open and b) The critic is usually seeing, in me, those things he or she dislikes about self. That doesn’t mean the criticism never stings- and there are two people who I have banned from my life, in perpetuity, for barrages of that I consider unwarranted attacks. It does mean that those whom I trust, and who do not have hidden agendas, are to speak freely.
The presenter of the above-mentioned video spoke of shame as nearly always a prime impediment to a person being the true self. Shame is imposed from within, though not always sans influence or instigation from someone else. When I was younger, it was fairly easy, even for well-meaning people, to wreck my self-confidence and set in motion even false shame.
Since the days when my late wife was in my primary care, I have learned that there are unscrupulous people who will take to questioning even the most basic decisions a person can make- usually with a view towards financial benefit or other forms of power and control over the person they are questioning. I have learned that there are those who will attack someone who is defending victims of crimes, almost always as a means of gaslighting or obfuscation. Both of the people I mentioned above are gaslighters, and they came close to doing a good job of making me feel shamed.
There was just one difference, from the days of my youth: Time, and hard lessons, have taught me the difference between acknowledging wrongdoing and buying into the script of a narcissist or tyrant. So now, in an intervening period between jobs, I am not ashamed of not presently earning an income, outside of what I have already set aside for myself. That situation will change- on my terms, not those of the retired critic.
I am not afraid to be vulnerable, or to experience life’s aches and pains. The physical variety of these is relieved by what is called Soothing Blend (an oil-based ointment). The spiritual variety is relieved by prayer, meditation and positive action.