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“Whatever.”, “It doesn’t matter.”, “How bad I am.”, “This is stupid.”, “I’m ashamed of me.”

When do I use these phrases in my life? Often they happen to be my barrier, my protective wall that keeps the enemy army from the gates of my castle. I often say them when I feel shame, fear, powerlessness, guilt, humiliation. These are part of my defense mechanisms. They keep me from contact that could be and has ever been painful for me. It’s my adaptation mechanism to make the environment more acceptable or safe for me or both.


So would that mean that shame, guilt, fear, powerlessness, blame, humiliation are actually my guardians rather than my enemies? When does shame turn from protector to personal aggressor?


One of the definitions of shame is a painful feeling of dissatisfaction with oneself. It’s like I don’t accept who I am. The shame is directed at my own personality. Shame is “closing” – there is no room for company in it. In it I am alone with my own experience, painful, exposed, unloved and insignificant. So how can I call such a painful experience a protector? How can it protect me when I feel it destroying me from the inside, like water dredging and shaping stone? Maybe both – it eats away at my personality, but it also closes me off to others – there are two of us left – me and the shame. Sometimes I need just that, for example the expression “To sink into the ground with shame”, that is, the situation is so unbearable for me that this closure “saves” me. Shame also acts as a regulator of my behavior as a person among others – otherwise I would often walk around outside in my pajamas 😊.


Fear acts as a brake, and sometimes a gas. I may be “stiff” with fear and unable to move, but I may also “leap” into action to outrun the danger. Fear is an adaptation mechanism that keeps me out of danger or an unpleasant experience, but gratitude towards our survival as a species definitely doesn’t make it any more “pleasant” to experience. I came across a children’s book called “Goodbye Scary Slipper” that made me smile. Often my fears are already “outgrown” and the child in me doesn’t need them. I am not ashamed of my fear! I want to get to know him. Fear no longer protects me, it just limits me from being.


Let’s see this old friend blame. Guilt, as opposed to shame, is directed not at my person, but rather at a specific deed or action of mine. It makes me “wrong” but not “clueless”. Guilt is often related to action or inaction, it “eats” out of me but does not “destroy” me. Guilt can also be seen as a catalyst for development, for example I feel guilty to myself my perpetual rushing, which takes away my opportunity for a fulfilling experience. Realizing this, I can take action to “correct” my behavior.


Humiliation, on the other hand, has more to do with the behavior of others. Humiliation can put me into the shame of “I’m no good”, “I’m a failure and here others see it”, but it can also be a mechanism to protect me through guilt. “I may have made a mistake, but everyone does.”

I feel and sense

And here the circle has come full circle with all those familiar sensations we build up in ourselves and others as we grow up and adapt to our family of origin, social environment, kindergarten, school, university… Sensations that we often experience as painful but with a present function in our lives (in the present or belonging to our past).

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