Great shame is experienced very difficultly and painfully. Therefore, even to notice it, it takes a lot of courage. Sometimes courage. And more often – both that, and another. Every time a client experiences shame and stays close, he looks into my eyes, talks about his shame, I have a feeling of respect and almost pride.
Of course, it’s much easier to slip the shame, not to notice, replace it with something else. For example, fear or anger. But this does not mean that he is not. Then how do you recognize him?
Often shame lurks behind various strong desires that appear simultaneously. They make a centaur out of a man – either a horse, or a man. You don’t understand who you are, who is your “flock”, where is your place and whether to trust your body.
Here are the frequent pairs of desires that I encounter in my practice.
I want to be inconspicuous and I want to be noticed
Svetlana works as an administrator. She says she does not like too much attention. But lately something strange has been happening to her. She became terribly absent-minded, then she would put the blouse inside out, then she would salt the client with coffee, or she would confuse the documents.
Colleagues and clients already kindly tease her. And she burns with shame. Every evening he thinks about dismissal. And in the morning he eagerly runs to work.
When Svetlana admitted to herself that she simultaneously wants attention and is afraid of it, it became easier for her to discover her shame. And she wanted to find new, more direct ways to establish relationships, maintain dialogue and feel visible and visible.
I want to be myself and be “perfect”
Denis was the best employee of the month for six months. The sweetest and most painful thing for him is the recognition of management and colleagues. He is trying his best to get praise. And as soon as he hears gratitude from management or admiration from colleagues, he feels fear and hurries to tell that it is not at all in him, that he is lucky. And not the fact that next month will be the same.
Denis realized that shame was preventing him from accepting his successes. Saturate with praise and approval. Make mistakes and try. Work with shame led to the parental message “ashamed to boast, you need to be more modest.” Denis decided to refuse this message in order to learn to value himself and his achievements.
I want to be with everyone and I want to be alone
Kristina often goes to meet friends. She is good when she manages to remain inconspicuous, just to observe and listen to others. But it annoys her when someone starts to make fun of her or ask about her. She does not know how to respond so as not to offend or freeze any stupidity. Each time you have to carefully weigh each word, and it is terribly exhausting. But when she refuses to meet, she feels very lonely.
Christine discovered that behind her shame of talking about herself, there was a strong fear of rejection. She is afraid that she will be driven away and will not want to communicate with her anymore. It turned out that Christine’s mother often made fun of her and did not talk to her. After working through her past experience, Kristina managed to start talking and having fun with everyone in a narrow circle of her close friends.
Working with shame is one of the most difficult and important. The difficulty is that admitting your desires is also embarrassing. Therefore, to cope with shame, to acknowledge and live it will succeed only if there is support. From the inside – its own, sincere and accepting. And outside – from another, careful and suitable for you.
about the author
Natalya Anischenko – Clinical psychologist, gestalt therapist and coach.