Bad to the bone
Psychiatrist Michael Lewis, author of the book Shame: The Exposed Self, considers shame to be so powerful because it’s about the perception of having a “defective self.. rotten and no good.”
But, he notes, “We don’t want to live in a world in which there is no shame or guilt. We want just enough to help us not do some of the awful things we could do.”
“What I don’t understand, Stevie,” [my high school teacher] said, “is why you’d write junk like this… You’re talented. Why do you want to waste your abilities?”… I was ashamed.”
Stephen King goes on to admit [in his book “On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft“]: “I have spent a good many years since — too many, I think — being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused of wasting his or her God-given talent.
“If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.”
From my article Shame.
Michael Lewis is author of the book Shame: The Exposed Self.
Being unashamed in the spotlight
Prominent women in the arts may have the added pressure of intense media focus, and are many times criticized for body image and behaviors deemed “unacceptable” by entertainment industry standards – at least the more public standards.
Meg Ryan says her divorce from Dennis Quaid after a long marriage, during which he was unfaithful, and her own affair with Russell Crowe, for which she was widely condemned, turned out to be positive.
She said in an interview, “Russell didn’t break up the marriage. I was a mess. I hurt him too at the end. I couldn’t be in another long relationship. It wasn’t the time for that.
“So I got out… My time as a scarlet woman was really interesting. As painful as it was, it was also incredibly liberating. Now I was utterly free. I didn’t have to care about what people thought.”
From my article Gifted Women: Identity and Expression.
Identifying the shaming voice
It may not be easy, but identifying and then modifying our thoughts that accompany shame can reduce its power over our feelings and lives.
Making conscious our inner critical voices that help sustain shame can bring about new options, like “answering” the critic with realistic information and perspectives. And not caring what unreasonable and critical people say.