Shame: It’s What You Think About What They Think - Grasshopper
Forget whether shame is a good or bad thing. That can be debated forever by the same type of people who argue whether a Mac or PC is better. The question is: Is it useful?
Thinking about what I think is a full time job. When I complicate it by thinking about what you think, it's shameful, not useful.
How much of what we feel is triggered by what we believe others will think of our actions? I submit that the percentage is much higher than we suspect.
Guilt is a feeling about something we did; shame is the dread of knowing that someone else knows.
"If they ever knew what I did" is a thought that keeps some people awake at night or continually numbing themselves to escape the anxiety and pain than come with shame.
Guilt about a past action may keep you from performing that action again, but shame continues on. You can absolve yourself from guilt, but you have little control over shame.
Here's the message: We can never control what others think about us. The truth is they may think more shameful thoughts about us than we're afraid they're thinking.
The energy we expend in attempting to control what others think drains us of life. It's a fruitless, lifetime effort. It's like trying to bail out the ocean with a thimble.
This is not an effort to stop caring about what people think. That will continue as long as we have an ego. This recommendation goes more to the core - to stop thinking about what they think.
Here's a practical way to do that: The minute you catch yourself thinking about what another thinks, interrupt it. That means to notice what you are thinking while you are thinking it. This practice of noticing your thoughts about what another thinks, will interrupt your train of thought.
Each time you take this action, you free up more space for some new thinking of your own to enter your mind.
The reality is this: You can't stop what others think, but you can stop thinking about it.
The real benefit is this: You end the pain of shame.
All the best,
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