Wednesday, August 1, 2012


According to the Urban Dictionary, shame is painful emotion caused by a sense of guilt, embarrassment, dishonour; a feeling of being unworthy or disgraced.

With the effect shame had on people I wonder why how to handle such emotion was not taught in schools. An individual who couldn't handle shame could commit suicide. That's shame for you, another emotion that could rival love. So I got ways individuals may experience shame by Jane Bolton:

• Shyness is shame in the presence of a stranger

• Discouragement is shame about temporary defeat

• Embarrassment is shame in front of others

• Self-consciousness is shame about performance

• Inferiority is all-encompassing shame about the self

I have been ashamed in the past, everyone must have been in such situation. You wake up one day, probably as you step into puberty, and realize you weren't on the same level [physically or socially] with your friends or people around you. You begin to perceive inequalities and when you rate yourself inferior, elements of shame begin to manifest. You might claim you don't care about what others think BUT we all know that's a lie. You might not act on in but you care. Unconsciously you begin to use shame to build your personality. For example, I know a girl who was shy in public places especially parties. She got ashamed at parties where she believed she was the worst dressed. If she were to describe herself to you she would definitely add, "I am not outgoing, I prefer to stay indoors, watch movies and read books". Not a lot of people bother about the origin of the personalities of people around us and we take it as just the way they are. But the truth was if you take this particular girl out on a shopping spree and dressed her up like Victoria Beckham she would be the life of any party. In summary, shame builds personality

Shame is the only emotion I believe reaches the strongest level of empathy. There are times we say things like "I'm happy for you" to our friends. We might smile along as we say it, but were we just as happy? Imagine you in a public place with the one you love, hugging and stealing kisses. You overhear passers-by comment "Oh! What a lovely couple". Suddenly, your lover farts. Those loud ones that sound more like the person just took a dump and the stench, rotten eggs with dead fish, fills the air immediately. The same people who smiled at you now distance themselves with their palms over their noses. The embarrassment should not be yours, you did not fart, but you feel it just as well with your lover. The level of embarrassment you might feel will either be on the same level with the other person or more. That is the power of shame, you get ashamed over other people's shame.

I know people might say, "Love is the most powerful emotion". Love is a powerful emotion, no doubt, but is it possible to love someone because she/he loved you? It is possible to shame/embarrass someone else by embarrassing yourself.

There were experiences that made me understand the power of shame to either depress or motivate. I remember graduating from secondary school, the next step should be getting admission into a university [immediately]. No thanks to Nigeria's poor education structure, getting admission into the university was like a betting game. While some of my peers were rounding up their third year few of us were freshmen. While in my final year, one of the best students back in secondary school was a freshman. I cannot speak for everyone but the period of staying at home while my peers were experiencing university life was quite shameful. The feeling became obvious when nosey parents saw me and asked, "What are you studying? Where are you now?" Like if I was somewhere important they wouldn't have heard. With time I got used to it and it thought me to live by my own standards. Anytime I was asked, "Where are you now?" I reply, "The best place I could possibly be for now" because to be honest I put in the best in whatever I do.

There were experiences that made me laugh [with pity]. Like a working class lady who received her valentine gift in the office. It was beautiful and expensive, something to make other females envy until it was revealed she bought it for herself in the pretence it was from a secret admirer. The shame of being single, despite being beautiful and successful got to her.

I cannot tell you how to handle shame, people differ and what will work for me might not work for you. What might be shameful is perceived differently. Take the scenario I gave earlier about the farting lover, it is quite possible your lover would fart and you simply laugh it off regardless of the response people around. One way I do handle shame or any other uncomfortable situation was to have it on the back of my mind my readers would love to read the experience.

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