Blame, Shame and Automobiles
The concept of shame as a way to manage each other's behavior is not a new concept. We shame our children, our peers, our representatives. We tell everyone they are bad and need to do better in order to get people to act the way we thing they should.
In my kid's blog I talked about this concept from a parenting perspective. But how is this concept of blame and shame affects your ability to function in life is huge and we continue to do it to each other as adults. Think about the last time you were driving down the road and someone pulled in front of you. Did you think "that person just made a mistake" or did you think "that person is a jerk"? I would guess the second. Which is shame, applying the act to the whole person.
What's the big deal? Read more about the psychological affects of shame in an article in Psychology Today. What does it do to your energy system? It steals your power, over rides your ability to access new thoughts and stunts your ability to create new things in your life. No big deal, right? Listen to Dr. Brene Brown talk to Oprah about this topic "Shame is lethal."
Step one - Admit you have a problem
Start noticing when you are using blame and shame, even if just in your own head. Are you assuming people are messing up or are bad people because of the decisions that they make? Start paying attention to the idea of shame and blame and notice how often you are using it in your engagements.
Step two - Make new habits
Catch yourself and replace that thought with shorter, more specific judgements. For example, someone cuts you off you might say "they are having a bad day of driving" vs. the alternatives or if someone wrongs you assume first that they are doing what they think is best, not what you think is wrong.
It also helps to acknowledge this for yourself when you feel you have made a mistake somewhere along the line. Start practicing self acceptance in the place of self judgement.
Step three - Reject the blame and shame from others
You don't have to fight with people on this, you just have to stand your ground. When someone tried to send you shame and blame, just acknowledge they are coming from a place that they think is best and move on. Don't pick up the paddle and smack back a little blame and shame of your own. If you change the rules on engagement for yourself, people around you will start noticing and changing too, without you doing anything else.
Bottom line, you want to feel better and have the freedom to take risks without the fear of blame and shame.
Sign up for my newsletter and receive my shame healing meditation.