Simply put, Shame is Blame turned in on one self. Shame says "I am bad." Blame say "You're bad." But, shame and blame are not the only options! When we've worked with our own emotional patterns there is a way to move through the world neither taking responsibility for other people's feelings ("I'm bad because they said I hurt their feelings") nor projecting fault for our emotions onto others ("you made me feel sad because you didn't do what I expected...").
How does one get there? What is the process to not internalize someone trying to blame us even in the face of the possibility that we really were not behaving in a caring way? The first step is to take responsibility without making ourselves small (this is something we do internally)...getting triggered and shrinking in our spirit.
Some view Shame as the most extreme point on a continuum....Embarrassment---Guilt---Humiliation---Shame. Shame is the point when you embody the blame being directed at you and at a certain point blame doesn't even need to be directed at you for you to go into feeling Shameful.
Some therapists believe for truly chronic and debilitating shame patterns it's helpful to move through Blame to come through to a more empowered way of being. The view assumes that shame equates to freezing and shutting down and blame equates to fight. The difference is that the nervous system is trying to effect change in fight.
This may all seem overly simplified as we are talking about everyday patterns and not more complex violations or actual violence. Resolving patterns of shame in a child who has been in a violent home, for example, is a much more intricate process. But, even that child grows up and wishes to resolve deep internal patterns of shame. Most of us get subtle cues that we are not okay or somehow a disappointment to our family or teachers while growing up. If we have a healthy sense of self we don't internalize it and maybe even we push back! Others internalize it and remember it often above all the positive reinforcements we received. Shame is more prevalent in some cultures then others. Our culture publicly shames through social media and in so many other forms of media. We fat shame, shame women for their sexual expression, their age. Learning to not internalize this kind of shaming has become a survival skill and very much worth exploration and attention.
We empower ourselves and others when we don't tolerate or accept shaming and blaming and it doesn't have to be aggressive. In fact, it can be very gentle and subtle. In many ways it is purely graceful to refuse to absorb another's projections and own what is yours....and nothing else.
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