Does any one else here at times feel ashamed even though you believe yourself to have no cause of shame, simply because of the constantly repeated message that you, and “filthy druggies/junkies/queers/punks/dropouts like you” are the vilest of the vile? It is really getting to me, and wreaking my self-esteem. Aside from simply “ignore it”, does any one have advice/similar experiences?
I’m not sure I’ve ever felt shame but there is a special kind of hollow anxiety that goes along with social exclusion, as well as an especially potent kind of self satisfaction in not being “one of them”. Both those feelings are pretty misleading and you’d be as well to spend a couple of moments actively letting them go whenever you feel them.
Your self-esteem, now that’s probably something you could do without, replace it with humility and you’ll feel a lot more relaxed. People do not find aspects of you vile, they see aspects of themselves in you of which they are ashamed. Equally, they do not find aspects of you enchanting, they see aspects of themselves in you of which they are proud. They’re seeing you the same way you see a mirror and they won’t think about you much once they stop looking at their own reflection. If you find either sentiment, revulsion or admiration, directed toward you, be sure to inwardly acknowledge that it’s a projection and has nothing to do with your good self.
I am very aware that the above sounds like the shitty new-age platitudes you’re likely to read in the sort of self-help book people leave on park benches and bus seats. I wouldn’t suggest you tattoo it on your arm but bear it in mind. From time to time, you might find yourself projecting one sentiment or the other upon someone else. When you notice you’re doing it, examine it a bit to see if it chimes. You’ll probably still dislike or admire the thing in that person, and yourself, but you might be a bit kinder about it. They’ll still feel that way about you too, but it won’t affect your self-esteem so much.
This particular long winded response is a perfectly illustrative example of what I’m describing. I’m not writing to you, I really have no idea about you, your life, your experiences, your emotional state or whether any of this has even the slightest bearing on the wondrous, complex and intricate pattern of your existence. I only have a vaguest awareness of the question you asked as I write, never mind the person to whom I am apparently addressing the response. The truth is, I’m writing to my eighteen year-old self, who felt reviled and ashamed of who he was, and to my present self, when he still feels it.
You might still find it good advice, I hope it is, I hope it helps.
In case it was all irrelevant, I’ll also offer a short bit of advice that I’m sure is good, and applicable, but for which I’ll take no credit.
Let feelings come in and go out of your awareness like the sounds you hear. The sound of nails on chalkboard is unpleasant, shame is unpleasant. When it’s there, cringe. When it’s gone, let it go.
Thanks for your insights, assessments, & suggestions! There is a lot that is helpful to me in this. Maybe I will elaborate later. It is very interesting what you said about admiration and revulsion, especially to me. As someone who preformed in a public career from a very young age and had a lot of notoriety and celebrity in my life, I have in a way gotten used to the notion of people dreaming through me, of being something for people to dream through, yet I have long struggled handle the manner (or various manners) in which people seem to make me and keep me in their mental image.
By definition, an image isn’t real. It can represent something, it can be a symbol, but there’s just no reality to it, it’s just a shadow.
When children play with shadows, they can make dogs bark, frogs jump and butterflies flutter all across the wall. Sometimes, someone will get really good at it, and the butterflies will seem so real and wondrous you’ll smell the flowers. Still, all it takes to ruin the illusion is for a breeze to swing the light and the butterfly will be fingers again.
.If the light is swinging, you could invest a lot of energy trying to keep projecting that perfect image of a butterfly, you can run around after the sweet spot or try to stop the light swinging, you might even do a good job for a while, but you’ll be exhausted The butterfly isn’t real, it doesn’t exist. Is it really so important to maintain it? You could always just let it go.
Struggling with other peoples image of you is exhausting and pointless, it doesn’t matter if your a salesman or a superstar. The projections required to maintain an image are beyond your control. Besides, your hands are just as beautiful as the image of a butterfly they’re projecting. Just look at your hands, they’re amazing.
If I may be frank, I don’t believe the ‘scene’ kids are dealing with their original issues in a healthy manner, Instead of speaking about them, and attempting to deal with them, they wear them on their skin to show everyone else, while simultaneously avoiding them themselves.
You will not feel shame if you are doing what you know you should be doing, you will never feel shame if you are in the right. The fact you feel shame is a sign that there is something within your social ‘being’ that you are in disagreement with, a cognitive dissonance. Figiure out what it is . Be strong enough to let go of something which is holding you back.
Again, interesting, and different, perspective. Thank you for responding thoughtfully & honestly. I continue to consider your response… Here are some fragments of thoughts for now.
A cognitive dissonance…
I would argue that some people on The Scene are not so healthful in their manner of dealing with things, yet some are. There are self-destructive things popular with our crowd, no question… but there is more self-awareness than I think you may credit us, too. What, in your opinion, is the reason for the behaviour you speak of? Why in this subculture?
We (in general) do hold ourselves back, don’t we, at times… sad.
But in regard to shame also — I am interested in knowing more of your view. Do you believe it impossible to feel ashamed from outside influence, without thinking one is shameful for reason of any internal or personal wrongdoing? Such sympathetic shame without purely internal parallel would be a be beholding and mirroring of the image others hold of you/your group in yourself, but self-awaredly. Could the dissonance, be, for example, between me and the establishment, rather than me and myself?
I’ve given a bit more thought, let me know what you think of this analogy.
A good christian girl, who’s been told forever that toys are evil magic made by satan might feel shame if she goes out to play with her neighbor, and finds herself playing with some action figures or barbie or whatever. Upon returning home, she is immediately confronted with her ‘sin’ and feels shame, she has disobeyed her parents. Whether or not she tells her parents, idgaf, but the point is that the shame doesn’t fundamentally come from playing with the toys, it comes from disappointing her parents, from saying one thing and doing another.
Now, obviously I’d argue the parents are a bit within the class of idiot in this example, and that playing with toys isn’t evil or anything, so that is to say the shame is a bit more difficult to tie solely with the girl’s self. In effect, she does have cognitive dissonance – playing with toys seems fun and ‘right’, but she’s been told to not do it, and, importantly, agreed to not do it. She may have even whole heartedly believed it was evil to play with the toys, making her shame and guilt even worse.
With scene kids, a lot of the experiences I have had is simply a strong disconnect with the parents, and the reasoning behind it is multi faceted and in no way can I conclude that there is some common factor other than the disconnect. So, much like, albeit reverse, the example above a lot of shame or stress felt by ‘scene’ kids comes from the very thing they are so known for – the disconnect from their parents or family. Their ‘individuality’ that makes them independent from their upbringing.
Again, using “them” and “they” isn’t very fair, because sociological issues, status and preferences are complex, and no group is a homogenous mass of the same ideology.
The dissonance is that at some point, what you are doing now or have been doing, was at one point believed by you to be a shameful thing. I can’t say whether or not you should feel that way, but I can say that if you continue to feel that way you really need to figure out why. Continuously contesting your own shame will bring you to a very stressful and messy place. Do what you can to align yourself. Realize exactly what it is that brings you shame, and either discontinue this, or you need to change the underlying reasoning – which needs to go deep to the issue.
As a shitty example, you dyed your hair pink. Your family and teachers look at you funny. Some times you regret your decision because it feels stupid, you feel shameful, like it was wrong to do this. At the same time, you don’t really know why the fuck it would be wrong, people should be able to dye their hair pink and not be looked down upon.
You can either remove the issue and go back to natural hair color, or you need to really understand why you dyed your hair pink. What is it that made you think this was the right choice. If you find it doesn’t make sense, maybe it doesn’t make sense to do this. If you have a real reason, something that you feel strongly about, then the shame should diminish into courage and strength. You will feel you’re in the right. Shame will no longer be an issue.
You seem to be suggesting that PhiPhi has been socially conditioned to behave in a certain way, by family, friends, whomever, but that, because she has decided to choose a different set of behaviors, she’s created a inner conflict which manifests as occasional feelings of shame. This seems like a reasonable suggestion and, even if she doesn’t fit the bill, I think probably applies to a decent proportion of people who identify themselves in opposition to social norms.
I’m with you to that point but I also think it’s fair to say that disassociating from your parents is pretty normal, as is a little bit of risky behavior and the development of close bonds with your friends. The scene changes but, given a reasonably supportive society, there’s always some scene. They almost always produce good people and it’s good there’s people pushing, they’re important. PhiPhi hasn’t suggested that there’s any particularly problematic issues arising from her feelings, so why go deep to the issue?
It’s an honest question. If you’re right, which you may well be, she’s transitioning from a stage in life where she is who she’s told she should be, to a stage where she is who she wants to be, for better or worse. This process is naturally emotionally disruptive, she will feel a range of emotions and they’ll cycle over time. Obviously, it’s healthy to experience them, acknowledge them, but isn’t there a danger of becoming a bit neurotic if you take them very seriously? Would you suggest someone go deep to the issue if they experienced recurrent feelings of happiness or pride. It seems strange to suggest someone attempt to dissect and extinguish a mildly unpleasant emotional state, even if it recurs a lot.
If you do that, isn’t there a danger that you’ll end up building a mountain out of a molehill? Even if there’s nothing big there, you’ll find something, assume it’s the font of worry, fixate on it, elevate it beyond it’s natural status. Before you know it, you’ve made a big stone for your neck out of a pebble in your shoe.
Unless there are properly disruptive episodes of shame, I don’t see the wisdom her digging about in her psyche trying to winkle them out.
Absolutely, and I think it’s a pretty sound position. I didn’t mean to say you were wrong or anything, the thought just occurred to me while reading your post, and you seem like a sane guy, so I thought it was worth pitching it to you to see if you’d considered it, or if not, to see what might develop. Sorry if my reply bothered you.
I didn’t take anything you said negatively, and it certainly didn’t bother me! You bring up a good point, making a mountain of a molehill… I just find the opposite to be a much more popular problem with people, but again, I can only go off the people I’ve interacted with (and myself).