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Playing the Ashamed card. Monday January 27, 2014

Here's the nineteenth in the series of excellent blogs by Lex covering the adjectives on the 20 Moodscope cards. Please don't forget we'd love you to add any ideas, tips, insights or advice you may have that you'd like to share with other Moodscope members that might be of help. Many thanks. Caroline.

Ashamed – feeling shame for doing something wrong or foolish.

What a great word for "embarrassment"! Oh, I've embarrassed myself on many an occasion. But do you know what? Most of the events weren't worth getting embarrassed about. I was always the one who cared most about the stupid thing I said or did. Others may have laughed "at" me, but they soon forgot. Well, usually!

As a frame can make or distract from a picture, so also the context can exaggerate or dissipate a sense of shame. This is where you can make a difference. If you are ashamed or embarrassed, excuse yourself (not by way of apology but by way of absenting yourself – Elvis must leave the building!)

This may seem almost cowardly but we all know deep down that trying to do something about the situation from a state of feeling ashamed rarely produces anything good. We've dug a hole and we can end up digging it deeper.

Better to leave as graciously as you can (even if only for 5 minutes to the loo), breathe differently, change your posture, refocus and reframe the event. Then you can return to influence the way the rest of the time plays out from a position of detached strength. A sense of shame often provokes the defence of blame. Better to dissociate yourself for a while and get a fresh perspective.

Of course, I don't need to remind you that everyone has made a fool of themselves at some time or other. Because of this, the simple and beautiful words, "I'm sorry," will resonate so powerfully with their heart that they will be moved. They may choose not to outwardly show this but humility and love is irresistible in the long run.

A Moodscope user.

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curious212000 Mon, Jan 27th 2014 @ 6:34am

I like this Blog statement very much, been there done that.

Ulrika Mars Mon, Jan 27th 2014 @ 8:17am

Shame is quite a different feeling that embarrassement. I feel ashamed when I've let my duties as a mom slip. I feel ashamed when I think about the loneliness my husband felt before he told me about wanting a divorce. I feel shame when I think about my gran dying alone because we were all at work. When I think about how 1/3 of the worlds children are living in poverty while I consider buying a new flanell shirt, that's the ashamed card for me.
Embarrassment is when you drop something breakable on the floor or slip on some water.

Anonymous Mon, Jan 27th 2014 @ 8:40am

I agree. I feel ashamed for how l am, for how l cope, for the secrets l hold. I am ashamed of myself for not getting up on a morning and doing something positive with the day.

Adrian Longstaffe Mon, Jan 27th 2014 @ 9:25am

Apologies last post removed due to typos (shame:-)

Having had a lifelong relationship with shame and seen it in my clients (I am a working psychotherapist) I find it very useful to divide shame into 2 types – proper shame and toxic shame.

By proper shame, I mean that I have breached something in my own value system –it is a useful signal that I need to change, apologise, do something to put it right. By toxic shame I mean that I have breached the values of the culture – maybe cultural values that I do not personally own. – This is important, cultures control us by means of shame and it's important for us to decide which cultural values we buy into and which we don't. This doesn't mean abusing the cultural values, the values of other people need to be respected. It simply means that some values need not be in our own personal system.

So I'm always curious when I feel shame or others talk about shame as to which it is, personal shame is a useful signpost, toxic shame needs a little inward declaration of Independence. I will not allow myself to be shamed for values I do not hold.

The Entertrainer Mon, Jan 27th 2014 @ 9:30am

Exquisite distinctions... thank you for that, Adrian.

The Entertrainer Mon, Jan 27th 2014 @ 9:33am

I agree with you both, and I save what you are describing for the Guilt card. Works for me but may not for you. The key on the Moodscope description was the "foolish" part. When I am feeling "Not OK" about myself, I seem to have a great gift for making even more of an idiot of myself - playing the fool and being foolish.
Bottom line, however, is that we must all associate the cards with what they mean for us, and then 'play' them consistently.
Good to hear your candid inputs - that's a level of openness I appreciate.

Anonymous Mon, Jan 27th 2014 @ 11:08am

Shame for something we did a while back, for which we never acknowledged responsibility to ourselves or the offended, never apologised or tried to rectify as best we could: this can eat away at our self worth, cause bitterness and self loathing which is the root of many psychological illness. We need to accept what we did was wrong and repent before God, who will never reject a contrite spirit, but forgive us all our sins and give us peace grace and mercy. That will allow us to restore broken relations with each other and we will be free! Hallelujia, Amen xx

Lostinspace Mon, Jan 27th 2014 @ 12:00pm

I really appreciate Adrian Longstaffe's lucid explanation of how he sees shame. Very interesting as up to now on principle I put 0 for Shame or Guilty. Now I shall adopt Adrian's ideas about Shame, it will help me enormously as I live abroad and many of the cultural values here are not mine but I have to respect them if I am to get along with folks here. Thanks to Lex and Adrian!

Tere Mon, Jan 27th 2014 @ 12:22pm

Something happened to others 23 years ago. Because I was ignorant. I'm still ashamed and guilty over that incident, because of how lives changed. It wasn't something such as a drunk driving incident nor was anyone physically injured. But the shame and guilt I feel will always be there -- 8 years in therapy notwithstanding. Embarrassment because it feels, even now, 23 years later, that I should have known better. Or, I could really go back 33 years because that's when I made the first of a series of mistakes. But I can't. I play all three cards a 3. Every single day. When lives are destroyed, nothing can fix that. An apology isn't enough. Nothing will ever be enough.

Kate Mon, Jan 27th 2014 @ 7:09pm

Like others here, I appreciate Lex's comments and the dialogue he has begun. However, IMO, shame is a different animal than embarrassment. Embarrassment is not catching the spell-checker's mistake, or burping loudly in a meeting, or forgetting an appointment. Shame is the result of having violated an important value or norm, the inward pain of a moral or ethical failure. Sometimes, the transgression is against a group norm, and shame is the penalty imposed by that group. Shame can be an appropriate response and can motivate someone to do better in the future, or it can be a bog that holds us back. Just my two cents.

Julia Mon, Jan 27th 2014 @ 8:55pm

Adrian. How did you remove your post? Is there an easy way to delete it once it's been published? Thanks!

Caroline Ashcroft Tue, Jan 28th 2014 @ 9:24am

Thanks for your contribution Adrian, very helpful.

Anonymous Tue, Jan 28th 2014 @ 6:52pm

Thank you Adrian for the very useful insight. I find that toxic shame is a very negative emotion personally. very helpful blog

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