Shame usually manifests when we don’t feel strong. The mentality is — DO NOT appear weak.
Women often blame themselves when they feel ashamed. They often look embarrassed. They may turn inward.
Men often blame others when they feel ashamed. They often look angry. They may explode outward.
Male violence is often an attempt to ward off shame. Respect is important to all of us, but for men it is essential. Feeling disrespected or “dissed” could contribute to a man to strike out in rage.
The most difficult thing in the world to do when we are feeling down on ourselves is to admit how we feel.
Yet, this ‘honesty with self’, is what we need to stop the cycle of ‘shame and blame’ that so many of us get caught up with.
We’re afraid that if we admit our faults, we’ll feel even more ashamed. But the opposite is true. The more we’re able to say, “Yes, I messed up,” or, “Yes, I made a mistake,” or, “Yes, I’m sorry for what I said,” the better we feel about ourselves.
For men, it often means admitting our weakness. It means accepting that we can still be strong, adequate men, even when we are weakened.
Men need also to practice empathy with the women in our lives. There’s prosperity in understanding the things we do that shame them, the subtle ways we may put them down.
We could all benefit from being more empathetic and compassionate with ourselves – understanding ourselves and giving ourselves permission to not get it right all the time.
We don’t have to be successful at everything, all the time. We don’t have to be strong all the time and hide our weakness.
We do not have to wear the mask society stereotypically influences us to wear.
We have the power and choice to be honest with ourselves. We can learn to love and accept the wonderful, flawed, human beings we all are.