Things I’ve done that I am ashamed of

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At the mindfulness and recovery community in northern Thailand where I recently spent some time, each afternoon all the residents participate in a workshop. One in particular sticks in my mind. The theme is ‘community’, and the activity goes like this:

You stand in a circle while the workshop leader reads out a series of increasingly personal statements. If the statement is true for you, you move to the middle of the circle. Everyone in the middle takes a few moments to acknowledge one another with a friendly smile, then returns to the outer circle to wait for the next statement.

For example:

‘I like spicy food’
‘I am an only child’
‘I snore’
‘I like the way I look’
‘I don’t like the way I look’
‘I get anxious in social situations’
‘I was bullied at school’
‘I have cheated on a partner’
‘I bullied someone at school’
‘I feel resentful of members of my family’
‘I have had suicidal thoughts before’

…and so on.

The idea is that in sharing some of our demons we might be surprised by the unexpected ‘me too!’ responses of people around us. This can not only bring people a little closer together through finding common ground, but also diminish the power of some of those skeletons that we carry that weigh us down.

So I’d like to add a few of mine to the public domain:

–  I once locked a friend in my parents’ garage
–  I have cheated on romantic partners
–  I shoplifted a book of Beat Generation poetry from a bookshop when I was at university because I thought it was edgy
–  I have had obsessive crushes on people and acted out in less-than-dignified ways
–  I wasn’t upset when my family pet cat got run over when I was about seven and I felt guilty for years after
–  I was a total bitch to one of my nicest school friends and I still feel bad about it

That’s kinda the PG-rated version, by the way.

The point is that many people think they’re shit, or at least shitter than other people. But we compare what we know of ourselves on the inside with the outside façade that other people display to the world.

It’s not a fair comparison.

6 comments

  1. I think an element of shame is healthy for self preservation isn’t it? Plus I bet whoever you locked in the garage also has their equivalent and probably uses the story as an anecdote now.
    Do you think some shame is forced upon us by expectation, ie just cos you have a family cat doesn’t mean you need to feel emotion towards it. This has made me think lots, good post x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think most (actually all) of those invite a response along the lines of ‘So have I’ or ‘So has everybody’. This isn’t to trivialise things that make you feel bad, though. I read somewhere that when we have cringe-making or self-hate-making memories it can help to let the feeling bad happen and not try to block it. The memory feels bad for a few seconds and then you think of something else. In time, the memories’ power to upset us gets weaker. This has worked for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To do a ‘me too’ with your list, I think I’ve done the lot (cheating on people, shoplifting, not feeling or being nice towards family animals, being nasty to school friends) – which only leaves locking someone in the garage, and I’m sure Charlotte is spot on about that, even in the unlikely event that the person remembers it at all.

    Liked by 1 person

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