The Architecture of Shame by Meryem Sabor in Advanced 6
Shame seems to be such a short word, though what those five letters mean is unspeakable. You can never know what shame is; however, the deeper you dig, the more you become immersed in what it is and maybe the more confused you get.
It isn’t some kind of word whose definition in a dictionary helps you figure out what it is. It’s like a tree with numerous roots. For instance, if we search for the word shame in the online dictionary, we will find this: “A painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace.”
You see here the use of the word guilt. In this definition, they are saying that feeling shame is actually related to feeling guilty about doing something shameful or worthy of contempt, but this isn’t always the case. I mean that guilt is borderline related to shame when we actually have done something wrong, and then we feel ashamed of it. But shame isn’t just that, is it? The architecture of shame is way more than that. The more you discover, the more you become aware of how complicated it is.
Shame is designed in a way that is appealing to most people. They see shame as a refuge from all outside storms. With shame, you can’t give a name to yourself, but in the shadows you will remain. The architecture of shame is poisonous. It is a kind of wall that holds you back whenever you try to move forward; it is the venom that gnaws your body and soul, and the motto that is so haunting that it becomes, “Don’t even try. Stay where you are. They will laugh at you.” So, you see, these voices will always be there, whispering in your ear, burning down every single shred of hope and strength you were clinging to, and that is the first step of which shame is made.
And not surprisingly, many people are easy prey, for they will fall in the depth of shame. And those many people who are living with the shame of letting out their potential don’t even know that they are facing shame. So when do we actually surrender to shame? Mostly in front of a crowd of people, or when we are asked to perform some kind of presentation. The presence of a stranger is always alarming. Moreover, when people are in contact with someone new, and that newcomer actually shows so little interest in what is being said, shame comes over you so quickly that you can’t even fight it; sometimes you end up abhorring yourself. Fundamentally, we’ve reached the second part of shame’s architecture, which is self-criticism. You are so ashamed of yourself that you cannot bear yourself. You even start wishing that you could be altered on so many levels. Shame sometimes results in being taunted at school, being shunned by everyone, constantly demoralized and brought down. The more you are criticized, the less confident you become, and the more your shame spreads.
Thus, with everyone else criticizing you, you just end up criticizing yourself and feeling the shame that slowly kills your creativity, too. For instance, in the music field, a star cannot have a decent career if they don’t pay all their dues. They feel this because of not being recognized. Let me be clear—they are not ashamed of themselves; they are ashamed because no one knows them yet, but they know that they will soon be a big hit. Yes, they know it, and they don’t allow any room for self-criticism; on the contrary, they don’t hesitate to get their foot in the door.
Overall, shame is problematic. In the architecture of shame, it always has unpleasant results. It sometimes contributes to unhinging oneself and making others’ reactions more frantic.
As I have said, shame springs from thoughts of fear, from not being good enough and not pleasing others; thus, everyone thinks they have to be perfect when they don’t have to. Perfection is beyond reach, so you can’t keep looking for perfection in order to please others, and thus feel no shame by pleasing them. They will never be pleased no matter what you do; they will always find a way to let you down. You can’t let others monitor your life and embody your fear. This will only result in your feeling ashamed of yourself.
Free yourself from the capture of shame and get your foot in the door of everything; free yourself from those haunting lines and enjoy living the metamorphosis, which will unquestionably make you feel your best.
Click here to read the rest of the edition of Student Voice March April 2016