Shame: A candid treatment. Part III
We’ve looked at shame and how it is about what you want to show, what you want to hide, and what you want to protect. Shame can induce powerful and damaging mental and emotional responses. Our internal psychological defences can support us against these. However, they can also lead to unintended consequences for our career and how we show up as leaders.
Last week, we considered the disempowering effect of shame and the psychological defence of ‘feelings of grandiosity’. Being shamed can also feel like a threat to what matters to us. It may violate the privacy of something we care about, or endanger that which is vital to our sense of self, and how we are able to cope and get on in the world. The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t matter whether others think that a shaming act should actually make you feel endangered, violated, upset, angered. What matters are the feelings and responses that it gives rise to within you, your intrapsychic reality.
Fantasies of destruction are one such response to this. As before, the term ‘fantasy’ describes where we let our minds wander to. Impulses we may experience include ‘I want to damage what matters to the person who shamed me’, ‘I want to destroy the person who shamed me’, ‘I want to contain the person who shamed me’. Often, these impulses will be subtler and may come in the form of passive aggression or microaggressions: ‘Who does she think she is’ followed by an unflattering remark about that person; or, 'They just can’t get away with this’ coupled with it slipping your mind to hand an important document on time.
Next week we will be looking at perfectionism as a way of dealing with shame.
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