I am ashamed of these tears. And yet at the extreme of my misfortune I am ashamed not to shed them. — Euripides—
Shame is a little whip we carry with us. We can shame ourselves easily; the little whip stings. We often use it to punish feelings, because they evoke the helpless children we were. So we learn to suppress our feelings of fear, or rage or desire. We would rather not feel at all than feel the sting of shame.
Why should we punish our feelings? Everyone feels much the same things. Why should our humanity shame us? Perhaps somewhere we acquire the notion that it is wrong to be human; that an inhuman perfection is the only proper public image.
Love can heal the pain of shame. Self-love and self-acceptance can make us strong enough to discard the whip. We’re more lovable when we acknowledge our humanity and let go of our shame. We’re also better able to love others. Shame shuts us up;
Love opens us to joy.
I’m grateful for my feelings; there close to my capacity for love.