Where did Shame go?
I was reading and thinking a bit about shame.
In Chinese medicine it’s seen as being one of the emotions that “lives” in the Lungs!
An acupuncturist friend of mine once told me that if you practice in the West, a huge amount of general cases you see will have something to do with Liver Qi being stagnated, think stress, fatty foods, alcohol and coffee.. BUT If you practice for a while in the East, you’ll notice lots of general cases of Lung Qi stagnation.
When I asked what that was all about, she said – “loss of face”
Shame used to be a great driver!
Shame used to keep us in line, shame used to create the barrier between doing something bad or not – now shame has been devalued!
I read an interesting interview in Positive News (one of the greatest magazines on EARTH) with Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, author of Humankind, where he says, imagine a society with no shame, where everybody behaved like Donald Trump!
In another part of the Universe, I’d like to draw your attention to an app, called “The Universe of Emotions.” It’s an interesting tool, where therapist have gathered 2000 emotions together, and charted them in relation to each other. You are able to place yourself in this slightly ungainly universe, and see which way you can jump to “improve” your own emotional mood as it stands right now. I had a quick look to see where they’d positioned Shame, and what sat in its orbit. Interestingly it sat just about as far from the centre (balance) as one can get.
There were words listed there such as ashamed, shamed, sordid, cheated, hideous, strangled, disheartened, litost (a special sorrow or torment), controlled, destroyed and the other TCM favourites that are always included when we talk about emotions of the Lungs …grief, sadness and sorrow
It probably sounds a bit odd to associate Emotions with Organs, but a simple example like Heart, with Love, or thinking of an angry person with blood red cheeks, connects anger and the home of the blood, the Liver..
So to Lungs that have the unhappy task of trying to contain “Guilt, Grief, Sadness, Shame and Sorrow” (…in Traditional Chinese Medicine – TCM terms..!)
What struck me most was a comment from a teacher long in the past, when I had crossed yet another line at school, and him saying “You should be ashamed of yourself…!”
Do I remember time when I was truly ashamed of myself? Isn’t it interesting how the brain edits the past, it buries things that we don’t want to remember, sometimes so deeply that, that they seem to be totally gone.
That’s the thing about healing oneself.. it brings Sh*t up! Things that have lain dormant in the Lungs for many years..
Whilst delving deep into what lies inside (me) I was astonished to be confronted with an image of a school friend.
Last time I’d seen him, we had both been a little sozzled, I pushed a joke too far, and I suspect I offended him. It was banter… we boys are thick skinned, we just laugh it off, don’t we? I have to say, that to this day, when I think about it I have the lasting impression that maybe he didn’t “shake it off..” – For this I feel ashamed.
When you are a young person, you test out many versions of yourself, you “try things on” – when they have a bad result, you tend to learn from the lesson, and never do it again. I say tend to, but it also depends on the feedback you receive. If you get praise for the bad behaviour, maybe you make it your regular thing, because you like the praise!
My youth was filled with “high jinks”
I’m not talking about dressing up national monuments, defacing a portrait of Mother Theresa, or urinating on a policemen’s foot (wait… that maybe did happen…anyway it was his own silly fault for coming out of the Police box I was urinating beside! Officer, I’m sorry!)
It was a story that friends told other friends, and for a few days I was a Silly Celebrity! If I’d been caught by the Policeman (himself half-dressed on a freezing Edinburgh evening, with a cup of tea in hand, myself fit and already running – I don’t blame him for not giving chase…!) then it might have been a different story.
I assume that I would have had a public nuisance fine of some sort, and probably a dressing down or a beating from my Headmaster!
Under these circumstances, perhaps I’d have curbed my “student behaviour” rather more.
My father was an exceptionally fair man, for him “fairness” really mattered. He never raised a hand to me, but when he removed his approbation, then the world stopped. Being in his good books was great, but step over the line and one could feel the weight of his disapproval. I always wanted to please him, whenever I could. I wonder what he’s had thought if he knew the Police box story?
To be fair there was also a story about his high jinks. It was rumoured that if you went to The George and Abbotsford Hotel in Melrose, the part of Scotland that I was brought up in, that you could find my Dad’s and my Uncle’s signatures on the ceiling of the dining room! It seems one night, they had decided to make a tower of tables, so that they could “sign” the ceiling!
Perhaps we are allowed some good-natured horseplay when we are young, it allows us to test our moral framework. Letting off steam isn’t the worst thing in the world, as long as nobody gets hurt.
We are led to understand that rules are there for a reason, but they can also be gently infringed from time to time.
Society is a structure of our own making. We decided what rules to put in place to make our lives easier. If you lived in the Wild West, in the 1800’s, if somebody looked at you the wrong way, you might just decide to shoot him there and then.
There was usually no comeback, but it wasn’t that nice to kiss your hubby goodbye, as he went off with his friends for a quiet drink, and have him brought back in a pine box!
Rules and regulations were introduced to protect our lives.
The fair application of the law is all anybody really wants. There’s an understanding, that if you play by the rules, then you’ll have a happy life, if you step over the line, you have infringed what everybody understands to be the boundary, and that you should expect to be punished. Ultimately, if you don’t like the laws in the UK, move to New Zealand! If you are part of the structure, you are supporting the structure. Campaign to get the rules changed, or leave…these are the only choices..
There are the big rules, and the smaller rules.
The Big rules first then – thou shalt not kill!
As mentioned, I don’t want to have people shooting each other in the streets, or me for that matter!
It is an interesting question to ask however, if I’m not allowed to kill people, then why is my Government allowed to? Who gave them that right? I marched against the war in Iraq, “Not in my name!” but nobody paid a blind bit of attention to that. (Interestingly, a Whitehouse insider has recently said that he was at a meeting where the then president declared that they were going to take down 7 countries in five years..naming Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan etc.. my marching was pointless, it had all been decided anyway..)
As long as we are scared, war will always be a deterrent. What would change this?
A unilateral agreement to have tiny standing armies? Limit nuclear weapons, limit development of technologies of mass destruction..? There must be a way. By freeing trillions of dollars spent on arms, we could feed the world overnight.
What about the small rules?
I was shamed heavily recently for a simple mistake. It hurt me deeply.
it was interesting to feel the pain in my chest. The shame was palpable. I made an honest mistake, but was still dragged across the coal in front of my friends and peers.
It was an exceptional lesson for me. I viscerally felt the pain. I then had to search deep inside to find out which part of me had been wounded so badly. (Don’t get me wrong here, I was considering giving up all of my healing work, and walking away, this went so deep.)
There was a deep sense of injustice. I felt like my “social status” had been challenged. I felt like my sense of my “honesty” had been questioned. In short, I had “Lost face” and I could feel it in my lungs. It happened to come at a time when Mum lovely mum is entering the last stages of her time with us. (Grief and sadness being “Lung” things too..) I felt it all in my chest, deeply.
My lovely teacher Lu, would probably asked me “who got hurt?”
It proved to be an excellent chance to examine the Framework inside me. (This is what our Qigong training is all about. Find out what’s making you shout at people, what’s making you cross with people, find out what’s triggering you inside, and dig it out. If you don’t want to have to go round and round the same “hurt loop” again and again, then SORT IT OUT!)
For me there were all sorts of disapproval loops put in place by my lovely father’s framework, there were loops regarding the circumstances of my birth, and my NEED to be loved, not criticised ..and many “sub-shades” of these, entangled like a patch of untended land, covered in bindweed and brambles..
One thing we can be sure of, is that’ll I’ll not consciously make that mistake again!!
Shame is a healthy thing. It helps us to stay in touch with our “Moral Compass” – if you stray off the path, it shocks you, like a Victorian mental health device! You get a strong jolt of shame, and hopefully it brings you back to your senses!
What happens if you don’t get bad feedback?
Let’s say you are in the highest office of the land, surrounded by Yes men, who will never honestly feed back to you?
Say that every time you push the rules, nobody has the guts to stop you.
What happens if every time you go past the boundaries of common decency, you are rewarded financially!? What does the world start to look like then?
One day I’ll get over the One-way system at Tulse Hill! (Until that day, I’ll continue to fulminate over it!) There was a constant stream of Black BMW’s that would scream to the front of the queue.
Us locals would get in line like sheep, and wait there whilst the young Brixton crew cut us up, one by one! It was easy for them, because in a place like London, you’ll NEVER have to see that driver again! Ever! No repercussion means that you can drive however you like. (I feel like a stupid sheep now…)
There was a time that I was known in my local town. A speeding ticket, garnered early one Sunday morning in a nearby local village was reported in the local paper!
“Colledge was fined £25 for doing 35 miles per hour in a built up area. His defence that he was hurrying to church, was taken into account.” (and widely accepted as NOT TRUE)
None the less, all my parent’s friends saw that, my former teachers (“I knew he’d come to no good”) and all my friends!
These “slaps” on the wrist all guide you to be a better person – eventually… it’s hoped!
Somewhere along the way Shame, lost its value. It still applies to me apparently, but not to Donald Trump. In the UK I have lost count of the number of “Shamed” ministers who find their way back into the structure pretty quickly afterwards. They pop up again, after having worked for an NGO for a year, made a few TV appearances showing us how nicely they dance, or some such thing.
There are entire agencies that have been built up around reputation management. This term essentially means finding a way round the stupidity you have shown publicly, and spinning it into some new story about who you’ve become, after you “learned you lesson” about …saying something horrible in public, about gay people, black people, trans people or your wife… fill in the blanks as appropriate..
The only thing that seems to guide celebrity life is an agency.
Shame means less and less in the brash world we live in.
It seems that the Chinese government no longer trust shame to be enough to keep the populous on the straight and narrow. They are developing something called social credit. Put simply, if you don’t follow the rules, your social credit mark goes down, the further it goes the less you can earn, or travel! (We have it too, except its “financial credit” that governs us. If you don’t earn enough, you can’t get a bank account, a mortgage or rent a property. Not much difference there then..)
The opportunity to travel, our mobility, the size of the world, the bourgeoning population means that the chances of you being held to account are much slimmer, but interestingly, it’s also true that there’s fewer places left to hide if you really have done wrong!
If you are thinking of becoming an international criminal, then it might be a good idea to learn some Mongolian! (Surely, you must still be able to hide out there!?)
That same story from the Positive News magazine talked about prisons in Finland.
You can’t tell the difference between the guards and the inmates. Everybody dresses casually. People are treated like humans, re-educated (Not in a Chinese government way either!) the lack of which was probably what got them to prison in the first place.. The rate of re-offending in Finland is one of the lowest in the world, in the tough, heartless US prison system it’s one of the highest in the world..
What’s the answer, now that Shame has lost its value?
Perhaps that is the answer. Maybe it’s possible like the Chinese Government to actually quantify my trust? If I decided to act on something, and do it carelessly, perhaps I should lose a few points off my score. Everything else in life is becoming “gamified”
It’s an interesting idea, because few of our politicians would survive, and the one’s who did, I’d like them to be there! People would soon start to behave in a better fashion.
I’m guessing that if you were the person wielding power, it would still be used as a means of control, not as a means of equality. I can’t see the rulers of China being subjected to the same checks and balances. How many points do you lose off your score if you subject an entire ethnic race to a “re-education” programme?! If you threaten to close your borders to the whole of South America, how many points would be docked from you then? If you refused the entry of a boatful of migrants then what?? Under these circumstances none of our leaders “scores” would last a minute!
Maybe we should take “the Global Peace index” and score every country in the world?
Each time they start a war, they are downgraded again! Until it’s no longer possible for them to raise funds internationally, or accept flights from other “better” countries or have their citizens leave their shores.. You’d only have to discover the score your country (the UK, is currently in 42 place, just behind forward thinking places like the United Arab Emirates, Mongolia and Kuwait.. and the USA currently in 121, behind Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan!) for you to start insisting that your politicians do better by you!
Education, education, education! Isn’t it time that we started humanising education, and INSISTING that everybody (bar none) get’s a decent and loving education? One where your heart is taken into account along with your head! So much is put upon science and maths, look how well that mechanistic system has aided us – it’s aided us to the brink of extinction! Well done! But it’s time for a change now people! You’ve had your fun, but if we want to be here in 50 years time, it’s time for a change!!
Perhaps your score of 100/100 gives you 100 votes in the Worldwide or National Referendum, then next bloke might only get 5/100 votes!
Today’s referendum… “Should Rupert Murdoch be allowed to own hundreds of newspapers and TV channels, vote now on your phone!”
On a local level, “should we purchase our next refuse truck from Italy, or Coventry – choose now on your phone!”
“Tonight, the big debate, live on your laptop, lets discuss 5G installations..then vote”..you get the idea…
It’s time to say goodbye to corporate greed, and political corruption, it’s also time to stand up for ourselves.
Finally, it’s time for Shame to make a comeback!