ASK ABDI: HOW TO NAVIGATE THE FOG OF SHAME?

QUESTION: I have a question about shame for you, and need to know what the roots of shame are.

I made a mistake at work last week, and it involved someone that I consider a friend. I was (am) embarrassed, and then last night I was taken over with shame. This was followed with the shame that I dragged my family to a new apartment (we love our place, but the area is very crazy) and have tapped a lot of our savings. I was discussing this with my partner this morning from a very honest place and she was understanding. That said, I am trying to navigate through the fog of shame. I’d love your help.

ANSWER: Shame is the energy that is released when our perceived idealized self-image is shaken. Its intensity is directly linked to how attached we are to holding up that impossible feat. For most of us, there is an underlying unconscious awareness that the perfection we project to the world is, in fact, not real nor possible to achieve. Yet that does not stop our conscious mind from believing and doing its utmost to keep that mask firmly on.

In your case with your apartment, you are human; you made a decision based upon the best information available to you at the time (reality). It did not go as planned (threat to idealized self-image/not being perfect/anxiety, and hence shame) and now you are wondering if you did something wrong (not making room for your humanity). Then you say “I mentioned to her that I equally contributed to our savings, so it wasn’t just her money that has dried up” (trying to justify/re-establish idealized self-image). A more healing attitude could be to realize that you are human. You did the best you could under the circumstances. You can honor the fact that there is stress now due to some financial hardship due to your decision. Remember that hindsight is 20/20, and it is not fair to judge an old decision with present time information. Review it instead with the information available to you now and file away the experience for future reference. Life goes by quick, brother. Be gentle and firm with yourself.