“Why do others judge or make others who live life in recovery feel shame? Does it come from having no understanding? Could it be from lack of empathy for others? Shame can stop others from getting help from addiction due to STIGMA. That is what our Featured Article is about today.”
The Ways We Shame People
Perhaps to a great detriment, people have a strong tendency to shame other people for a variety of reasons. This type of behavior isn’t exactly healthy, and can often lead to a variety of problems for the individuals who are being shamed, as well as for those who do the shaming. While shame can be a natural feeling that is experienced when we do something wrong, trying to influence human behavior by leaning too heavily on shame can have more adverse effects than positive ones. Despite this simple truth, however, there are a variety of things that people are frequently shamed for in our modern society. The reality, though, is that there are often much better ways to approach many of these issues in a way to accomplish change. In that spirit, here is some information about the ways that people are shamed…
Addiction is a huge, imminent threat to millions of people around the world, as well as our country. It is currently an epidemic that is breaking apart countless lives. Reasonably, many in society are terrified of this reality and react to it by attempting to shame those who suffer from addiction, in the hopes that they might retract their current ways. However, addiction is a mental disease that cannot be broken by simply shaming someone. Indeed, this type of behavior will usually only serve to push those who suffer from addiction further into the fold and out of the arms of those who want to love and help them. This is, perhaps, one of the most destructive examples of shame in the modern world, and one that we must do away with if we are to have an honest conversation about addiction. For more information about this important topic, check out this informative article here.
While there are certainly many negative behaviors that can be involved around sex (which would probably be classified as sex addiction, and fall under the category above), there is also a great tendency to put shame on those who have different feelings about sexual activity than we do. This makes sense, to a degree. To many people, sex is a very intimate and sacred bond. However, the simple truth is that there are many people in today’s culture who don’t have those same associations. By placing shame on people who practice sexual habits outside of a more traditional view (assuming they’re consensual), we are creating a disruptive cultural divide that is splitting up communities. Rather, than using shame to attack people who engage in sexual activity, we should be attempting to educate people on dangers that might be involved in these activities, but without the shame.
Body shaming is a practice that is so commonly engaged in, that many people who think of themselves as very reasonable, accepting individuals likely still do it, even without realizing it. This is something that is experienced with people who are either over-, or under-weight. Unless there is an imminent health concern, nobody should feel obligated to radically change their body type, simply because other people have notions of what they should look like. The truth is, if it doesn’t affect someone else, then they really shouldn’t care what you look like. An individual’s body image is something that should be left to themselves, or, perhaps, their partner. Otherwise, it is usually just a case of someone sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong.
Shaming is often a distraction
When people engage in activity that involves shaming someone else, it usually isn’t actually about the other person, but a personal struggle that this particular individual is going through. Shaming other people is a very negative coping mechanism for those who are dealing with their own personal battles. At times, it may seem like shaming is a valid way for that person to make themselves feel better, but this isn’t a fulfilling way to live life.
Shame is often counterproductive
The ironic thing about shaming other people is that it usually yields the opposite effect of inspiring them to make a change. It is a stressful experience to be shamed, and it often only pushes people further into the negative behavior that they are being shamed for. An example of this is addiction where addicts will continue to turn to substances to escape from this perceived shame.
By Author, Alek Sabin . . . .
I wanted to close this article with a little of my own experience of how others shamed me. When working at a community center as part of a past poor choice I made within my gambling addiction, let’s say I had a wee bit of trouble with the law.
As part of my court sentence, I had to complete many hours of community service. I was working at the Senior Center one day, and I was working in the kitchen with a couple of other girls from my correctional jail center. There were a couple of old ladies who came in to start working; one lady turned to the other woman who just got there. The woman asked another where she should put her purse and sweater until they were ready to go home?
One lady told her, “Well, you better put it in a safe place because we have criminals working with us from the jail today.” And she said it loud enough and acted like us “criminals” were not standing right there while she said it! Like we were going to steal things out of their purse’s WOW! Talk about making us feel SHAME.
I can honestly say that was the first time the full force of what I had done within my addiction came to slap me in the face. Yes, I had made one bad mistake in my life. But I was taking accountability and ownership for what I had done. But the comment she made didn’t sting any less.
I felt this woman didn’t know ME. To me, that is what ignorance, stigma, and judgment of others looked liked . . .
I thank Alex again for this wonderful guest article today!
Author, Catherine Lyon