Change and Shame

ucite4996bpUranocircite – Barium Uranyl Phosphate.  Normally Oxides are indicated with an -ate ending, as in Phosphate.  You wouldn’t want to do that with Uranium, so -yl is used instead.

Shame is also damn good at creating a wall between us and What We Want.  Often because it makes us feel unworthy of our Desires, but in some subcultures we can even be made to feel Ashamed of What We Want!  That’s a nasty double bind that can literally kill us, as it produces a horrific level of chronic negative Stress.

While I usually find Fear down in the pelvis and belly, for me Shame sits more in the center of the trunk, between the solar plexus and heart, or Third and Fourth Chakras.  It’s like an iron corset, clamping the Breath off into the top of the lungs and leaving us virtually gasping.  It helps to get down under it, and breathing from the belly, stretch out the solar plexus.  Even when you’re lucky enough to notice that you’re in Shame and Breathe your way out of it, it still leaves a lingering hangover of very nasty-feeling unworthiness.

And of course that’s the key, to notice that you’re in Shame, rather than focusing on the content of what you feel shamed about.  If you live with someone or work for someone that’s into Shaming, on the one hand you’re in trouble – and on the other – you get lots of opportunities to practice noticing

Fear is actually constructive, once you develop the habit of Witnessing it.  Shame is nothing but destructive.  You still need to develop the habit of Witnessing it.  Nothing lovable about Shame, though you still want to Locate it in your Body and be Loving – soft and warm – with that place in your Body.  If you Love the Shame itself, it feels a lot like pride, and a pride that swiftly leads to abusiveness.

“When we talk of guilt, we need to be clear not to confuse it with shame.  Often the two terms are used interchangeably when, in fact, they are quite different.  While guilt can trigger empathic distress and the desire to reach out and make amends to another whom one has harmed, shame denigrates a person’s being, making them feel worthless and inhuman.  To be shamed is to be rejected.  Shame is a way of isolating a person from the collective we.  He or she becomes an outsider and a nonperson. 

“Shame has the effect of turning off the innate empathic impulse.  If one feels like a nonbeing, socially ostracized and without self-worth, he is unable to draw upon his empathic reserves to feel for another’s plight.  Unable to emotionally connect with others, he either shrinks into withdrawal or acts out his sense of abandonment by exercising rage at others.  Why rage?  Because it is often the only way he has open to him to communicate and engage his fellow human beings.”

–Jeremy Rifkin, The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis, pp.119-120

Don’t lose sight of a key point from the Recovery Movement of the 1980s – Teasing is a form of Shaming.  The Olde Male Culture uses Teasing as a means of keeping the hierarchy in place.  If you react you’re a poor sport.  If you don’t react, you eat the Stress and add it to all of the other daily Stresses that eventually sum up to hypertension, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular difficulties, cancers, and a host of other modern surrogates for Despair. 

Perversely, a lower-tier male even accepts Teasing from a higher-tier male because it’s evidence that the relationship is still valid – which is preferred to being outcast.  There’s no question of equality; to react to the Teasing is to challenge the alpha male to a dominance-clarifying fight.  It’s a gang mentality, and it permeates male cultures, whether it’s in a police department, an office, a prison, a football team, or New Jersey politics.

It’s very difficult to set a Boundary against Shame.  To do so feels Life-threatening, and in many situations it literally is dangerous, because you’re challenging the authority of an authoritarian who Ego-Identifies with their dominance.  A threat to their dominance is felt as a threat to their Life, because it threatens them with Ego Death. 

It takes a great deal of Creativity to weasel out of a Shaming situation with a Bully.  It’s a great place to PIAVA Self-Respect and Safety – and a Gentle and Loving release of course.  Basically, whenever we want something and it seems hard to get, or we don’t know how to go about reaching for it, that’s when PIAVA is most valuable, because if we succeed in Changing the Subject and Paying Attention, it opens us to new ways of seeing the World and newly creative ways of acting upon it.  Chiron personified!

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