Shame Handlers

by | Sep 15, 2022 | Change |

shame handlers

Our son is prone to shame (one of the unfortunate things he learnt from his parents). Recently, he came home from school is a foul mood. And we had no idea what was going on, but he was on a warpath. Upon reflection, my response to the warpath only made it worse. Hours later, in the safety of his bedroom he told me what happened. At school he was yelled at by a teacher in front of all his friends for something he did not feel was correct. He felt deep shame.

Shame has weight. It’s like a weight pulling you down to the bottom of the sea. Shame invokes a response in us. Most often it is a combination of self-hatred and lashing out. And yes, sometimes that lashing out is at others, while other times it is lashing out at ourselves.

We can actively try to shame someone. But we can also cause shame inadvertantly or unintentionally. I see this happening in change all the time. We call someone out on something, make a joke about something, and so on. The response in the person is to close up, become small, and retreat into themselves or there is an outburst. The outburst comes across as an overreaction to the situation. We are viewing it as an overreaction to a moment or to a change we seek to make, however they are not reacting to that, they are reacting to shame and a feeling being attacked.

How we respond has significant impact. Do we lash out in return? Do we attack? Or can we respond with grace and humility? Can we notice the lashing out as a signal that shame is present and attempt to listen to understand what is going on? Perhaps the foul mood is not a reaction to the change, but something that happened.

Often change makers are shame handlers. Not intentionally, but it seems to come with the job. Who do you need to have a quiet conversation with today?

Photo by @felipepelaquim

1 Comment

  1. Michael Kersten

    Wrote out comment, got distracted, and lost it all. Typical. I’ll try to recap
    -depressive episode during Covid restrictions led to all expenses paid trip to psych ward.
    -shame is powerful emotion that can be used to illicit change.
    -decided that in order to be an effective servant of Christ , I would HAVE to make changes, so I started a year ago
    -60lbs gained, 15 months sobriety, and a sense of gratitude that I’ve never had, and 311 days of BIBLE IN ONE YEAR morning devotions.
    -Chris Bezuyen showed up at our operation about a month ago. He’s selling attachments for grow lights for flower,vegetable, and pot growers. He’s winning, which made me joyful I guess.
    -so was inspired to join the social media hustle, four accounts across three platforms. Wouldn’t recommend, but sobriety has given me some spare time.
    -recently contacted by CAMH in Toronto to lend support for their new app simply called HOPE. It’s a free download that attempts to curb suicidal ideation/tendencies. Amos Doornbos, Im not exaggerating when I say the HOPE APP, has the potential to save lives.
    Sounds like a no brainer to me.
    CAMH would appreciate your support from across the pond for sure. I know it’s a big ask, but it’s part of my hustle now.
    -condolences on the death of our Queen Mother. My jury is still out on her life and impact, but heard her wit was unmatched, which is good enough for me
    -and finally
    How’s your beautiful family doing?
    I cheer when I see your blog post show up in my email at 4:30am everyday.


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