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They Should be Ashamed of Themselves

Updated: Jul 24

Hello and welcome to this glorious Saturday, June 27, 2020! Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again.

I took a day off yesterday and we (DC and I) spent a glorious day on the sunny and breezy Oregon Coast. I feel truly blessed to live in such an incredibly diverse part of the world.

A few days ago, I was having a conversation regarding political issues. In response to recent events someone said, “They should be ashamed of themselves.” Though I know that this is a result of my Mindfulness practice, I said, “They are ashamed of themselves, that’s why they’re acting this way.” There was a significant part of myself that wanted to focus on how those people in power should be ashamed of themselves. Their behavior, I believe, is deplorable. Yet, there I was, surprised that something grounded in compassion was the first thing to arise in response to their comment, “they should be ashamed of themselves.”

For much of my life, I lived with remorse, low self-worth, low self-esteem and a profound sense of shame. Essentially, I was ashamed of myself. I suppose, given my behavior, I probably should have been ashamed of myself. Then again, I’m realizing that isn’t kind or compassionate to should on ourselves, or others for that matter. Regardless, for much of my life I was ashamed of myself, primarily because I did things that I didn’t feel good about – things that elicited shame.

When I was pervaded with a deep sense of low self-worth, self-pity and shame, that is what I had to give away. When I’m consumed with shame, shame becomes my primary motivator, and, whether I’m aware of it or not, I am more likely to do things that I’ll later be ashamed of. Meow I don’t know if there is scientific evidence to back me up here, but I can confidently say that this is my experience. Your experience may be different.

Nevertheless, one of the big lessons that I am repeatedly confronted with through my mindfulness practice is that we give away what we have. When I am overcome with shame, that is what I have to give away. Alternatively, when I am imbued with a deep sense of well-being, when I feel good about myself, that is what I have to give away.

Having worked through much of my destructive feelings of shame and low self-worth, I typically feel pretty good about myself. When I’m in a healthy and realistic space where I recognize my inherent self-worth as a valuable human being and feel good about who I am and how I interact with others, I have yet to do anything that I later regretted or was ashamed of. However, when those harassing beliefs which suggest I’m not enough or if intrusive painful thoughts from the past try to once again convince me that I should be ashamed of myself, for whatever imaginary reason, I find myself resorting to practiced unskillful behavior which often leads to thoughts, words and actions that result in shame. It feeds on itself!

So, when I think about these politicians (or anyone else for that matter) who, just like me, are doing the best they can, are trying to avoid suffering and to find happiness, the last thing that I want for them is to be ashamed of themselves. I want them to feel a profound sense of self-worth – I want them to feel good about themselves. Because if they are feeling good about themselves, they are less likely to do things that are unfair, unjust or unkind. My experience tells me that it doesn’t feel good to be deceptive and self-serving. Although people have different beliefs about what is fair, just and kind, do I really want to be a person who wishes ill-will upon another? No. Because when I wish for another valuable human to suffer, even if it is a result of their own behavior, I don’t feel good about who I am and what I stand for – I feel ashamed. I would rather feel good about who I am.

I love you and there isn’t anything that you can do about it!

May you feel good about yourself,

Dan

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