Shame is one thing that all of us experience at some point in our lives. Some experience it more than others, while some claim they never feel ashamed, but on the inside, they know that shame is crawling up their blood vessels like vines on an Italian summer’s eve, draining every last morsel of their fleshed-out integrity. So what makes me say that shame is such a bad thing? After all, shame is just another emotion, and all emotions are necessary to feel, right? Well, sometimes god goes wrong when creating things, and when he was creating shame, he was probably using one of his hands to thread a needle and the other to play Mario Galaxy on the Wii.
By now I’ve grappled a harpoon sized hook in your attention and a trawler-sized vacuum in your boredom space, and I know you’re going to find out why feeling shame is a bad thing, because I’m going to give you five reasons why it is so.
5) It destroys morale more than it heals it.
You can feel ashamed for a plethora of things. It’s almost unfair to someone when they feel ashamed, because more often than not, they don’t need to. When you feel ashamed, it’s not like feeling anything else, because you know that you have done something wrong. When you know that you have done something that’s wrong, it makes you fell pretty bad. It takes more time to realise through your sadness that you can improve on your mistake, so most of us just spend our time with a destroyed morale.
4) You don’t reallyneed to feel it.
When are you most likely to feel ashamed? When you’ve done something so unfixable that even Fevi-quik can’t fix it or when you’ve done something so unfixable that praying to 17 gods and getting baptized will not only be a waste of money but actively make gods and godesses send curses your way. Well, the truth is, both of them are more or less the same. No matter how stupid you are, there’s still scope for improvement; you could join turtle-racing clubs or the NRA and make up for the fact that you don’t have any real talent. Shame, however, is an out-dated emotion.
|This kid knows how you feel.
3) You lose the (imaginary) battle against yourself and others.
Face it, life is a video game. The better you are, the more points you score, and if the power goes out, you die.
I remember the last time I felt ashamed. It was during an examination, and a girl who was sitting ahead looked behind. Her eyes said, “I’m going to beat you in this one.” I’m good at reading non-verbal communication, but I’m not that good at speaking it, mostly because it’s non-verbal. Still, I eyed her a “No, that’s unpossible” look, and then I winked. The teacher who was invigilating noticed that, the winking bit. She looked at me for approximately 2.8 seconds before failing to curve her lips enough to form a smile, but I saw the faint tingling of facial muscle fibres from three metres away so I’m 78% sure I’m right. She wanted to smile. But being a teacher, acting happy is against her moral integrity.
For me, that was the last time I felt ashamed. It was a cocktail of turmoil and self pity hiding behind a not so well practiced poker face.
2) It’s a flimsy excuse for doing things.
If you feel ashamed, you’re more likely to eat 11 bags or chips or drink 7 cans of beer or whatever makes you feel good. Tell you what, that’s unacceptable. Shame is a fictitious feeling that you can overcome, and you don’t need to indulge in fake pleasures to hide its effects. Eating or indulging yourself after a shameful event is the equivalent of a star football player getting into competitive eating right after retiring. The wiser option would be to use his skills, get back on track, and become a coach. Not delve into the vast expanses of human invention and consumerist celebrations.
|Unless you’re playing Pokemon. That’s acceptable.
1) It’s a feeling you can easily overcome.
Let’s take an example. You’re at a party. One guy comes up to you and starts shaking your hand with a delighted look in his eye. He asks all about you – what you’ve been up to, and where you’ve been for so long. You oblige the flow of small-talk and shoot back some questions of your own, wondering who the hell he is. You remember his face, what he did, who he was, but you don’t remember his name. But you’re a risk taker, and life to you is a series of decisions based on risk vs. reward. You take the risk. “No, Harry, I’m pretty sure you’re not a wizard,” you blurt out. Only thing is, his name is not harry.
|But he is a wizard.
That’s a classic embarrassing situation. But the thing is, there’s always a way to avoid it, and even if it does happen, there’s always a way to avoid it.
So after Not-Harry penetrates your very anguished soul with his crisp, languid wizard eyes, you say, “Imagine if Hagrid said that.” And then you proceed to become best friends and he takes you out on his broomstick to the nearest pub where you enjoy 3 and gulp down 11 butterbeers till you pass out.
To summarize, shame is an emotion you shouldn’t feel because there’s really no function of having it. Being shameful after the fact accomplishes nothing, and actively obfuscates your decision making and judgement. I’m sure there’s a reason we feel shameful; it’s good to pretend to feel shameful when your girlfriend’s friend hands you her baby and you accidentally drop it, or when you accidentally swallow your wedding ring. But like I said, there’s really nothing you can do at that point except start writing cheques and deleting facebook accounts.
(Pictures updated by Upamanyu in 2016, original post and text from 2011)