Shame: Save it for When You Screwed Up
“So I’m preforming a small, harmless act that comforts me, and this makes me the strange one,” says Dina, echoing all of us who’ve sheepishly avoided mentioning a hobby or a habit or something else that we knew would seem “strange.”
It’s a judgey world out there.
Of course, we could point out that there are actual downsides to eating nothing but cereal. Dina’s habit might not be as harmless as she claims. But that’s not really anyone’s business but hers, now is it?
And I loved the follow-up, which is a candid explanation of the whole problem: “I don’t make the rules, I just live in fear of them.”
Shame is a very early-learned behavior. And I don’t think that’s entirely a bad thing — there are times when we should feel shamed, because we did something bad and feeling lousy about that discourages recidivism. A little stomach-churning guilt can be great for society.
But a little perspective if you please. If you just can’t sleep at night until you’ve kicked a dozen kittens, we might have a problem. If all it takes is a bowl of cereal — or an episode of a terrible TV show that you’d never tell your friends you watch — or a favorite teddy bear — or anything else that’s fun for you and meaningless to others –
..maybe don’t feel so ashamed of it, huh?
I’ve stressed before on this blog that we don’t necessarily need to wear our weirdness on our sleeves (especially sexy weirdness, which is for you and your partners to enjoy, not the rest of us, thank you very much), but we don’t need to go out of our way to hide it, either.
Now if you haven’t, be sure to add a link to Comic Strip of the Day to your bookmarks or news feed before you go. I won’t be leading with a cartoon again for a while, and there’s surprisingly good essays to be had from it. Plus, who doesn’t have fond memories of reading the funnies first?