Shame is the impulse to run and hide in the face of truth. In groups, shame can be utilized to deny individual giftedness in favor of the collective identity. The expressed goals are to maintain order, to be fair, and lend predictability to chaos. To bow, conforming to shame, is to stunt the chaos that motivates change and inspires growth in you and in me.
Shame and Your Moral Compass
Truth may manifest in the form of trauma you experience, increased awareness, mistakes you make, or inconsistencies within your environment. The problem is that the uncertainty of the new tends to support your recoil reaction toward safety. You make this choice even though it diminishes options, long-term coping, and future learning. When your reaction is the result of trauma—pain, negative experiences, or intense longing—diminished neurodevelopment can result, especially in the case of childhood trauma. The further effects may include diminished capacity.
You begin to feel that you cannot trust yourself or your gift. You lose the sense of a moral compass with a true North.
You lose faith in your instincts. It is like looking at a compass that does not indicate which way is North. You feel uncertain. You begin to rely on external guides ignoring your internal voice and sense of individual contribution. Any option outside of what is forbidden by your permissive peer group, what lingers after your self-medication, what convinces beyond your capacity to reason, and what fits your immediate environment will make sense and may be adopted even if it is unsustainable.
Your continued dissonance in attempting to reconcile your continued failure to make sustainable choices forces you to practice the tools of shame: silence as denial, conformity as a form of deceit, and isolation as self-protection. This practice leaves you stagnated, your potential unrealized, your success delayed.
Your task is to create objective criteria for distinguishing the difference between a sustainable choice and an unsustainable choice. Criteria that are not based in the shame that forces you into silence, conformity, isolation, and stagnation.
You will know a sustainable moral compass because you will feel a power born out of responsibility, coping centered in your giftedness, and the challenge of positive competition from a supportive peer group. Like a compass that clearly indicates North, you regain your ability to judge what is “right” by determining what is sustainable long-term…what is “right” for you.
[This blog post is excerpted from the book Deceptions, Distractions, and Disillusionment: Barriers to Your Success and Ours by Michael A. Wright, available NOW! by MAWMedia.com]