by Rod Smith

Shame is a powerful, debilitating force. While I am not sure it is in itself an emotion, it certainly taints and twists all of them and can feel as strong and propelling as any powerful emotion. Shame can be like a baptism, when “bad” is not something you have done but something you have become. It is so deeply imbibed that shameful is what you are. It is not that something you’ve done is rotten, you are rotten.

And so guilt, remorse, regret and self-rejection are not the lens through which a person may see life and may therefore on occasion wear a different pair of glasses. It is that guilt, remorse, regret and self-rejection are in the bloodstream, the thought-stream, forming the backdrop of all awareness, offering self-convincing and self-prophetic and self-fulfilling evidence of who the person believes him or herself to be.

Observers, acquaintances may wonder why such a person is difficult to love. Friends, colleagues may wonder why some people are suspicious of all love, all kindness. Shame is a shield. Shame is a sword. No matter how sophisticated or educated a person may be it may be shame doing its twisted job of “protection.”

Listen more than you speak. He or she trapped in shame may just let you in.

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