Invitation To Shame

To me, every interaction with anything, another person, an idea, some form of media, whatever, is an invitation to a party. It's like every person is holding a big, white envelope with a description of the type of party they're inviting you to stamped on the front. There's the fun party, there's the humor party, there's the interest party, there's the learning party, there's the passion party, and then there are all of the useless parties. Top of the list of the most useless parties is the one stamped Shamefest. Don't go. It's a bummer.

Nearly everyone is inviting everyone to the shame party all of the time. It's a big party, and a lot of people are going. However, it's not a very good party. It serves no purpose, nothing gets done, and everyone has a really bad time.

The premise for the shame party is as follows: You've done something, and now you have a moral obligation to feel bad about what you've done. At Shamefest, your behavior is labeled wrong. People will gather in groups and discuss just how wrong your behavior is, the ways in which in which your behavior is wrong, the level of your wronghood for engaging in the behavior, and all of the ways your behavior should be punished.

The shame soiree involves total immersion in feelings of unworthiness, inferiority, and servitude. Those are the ideas that are playing on the sound system on repeat. The party-goers bathe in an atmospheric of deference and inequality, taking moments here and there to kiss the ring of those hypocrites at the party that stand in judgement of them. Occasionally, there's someone in the corner, who's been partying too hard, on their knees, begging for forgiveness and pleading for ways in which to make up for their behavior, complete with teeth gnashing and wringing of hands.

Here's the thing. This self-indulgent, self-flagellation celebration serves nothing. And it's immoral. Morality is appreciation. Criticizing yourself for your behavior is unappreciative. Deferring to people who are offering you only conditional love is unappreciative. Wallowing in feelings of unworthiness is unappreciative. It's all immoral. And it's ineffective.

The argument in favor of the shame party is based on the idea of deterrence. The theory goes, if a person feels bad enough about what they've done, they'll be deterred from doing it again. This is incorrect. Read up on crime statistics and psychological studies. Deterrence is weak on its best day. The only thing that changes a person's behavior is a different underlying assumption about their nature. Feeling bad just creates more expressions of feeling bad. Shame perpetrates the belief that the person is fundamentally unworthy.

When a person feels unworthy, they don't make choices that support their sense of worthiness. They make choices that express their feelings of unworthiness. Unworthiness breed self-condemning behavior which breeds more feelings of unworthiness in a continual cycle. Culture feeds this cycle incessantly.

The global culture asks you to prove your worthiness. The assumption is that you're not already worthy. If you believe this assumption, there is no way to win. You'll be taking up other people's invitations to Shamefest, and you'll struggle to feel competent and acceptable. In other words, it will be difficult to function with confidence and compassion in the world. You'll feel insecure and defensive. Life will seem difficult, and it will be hard to trust people and the world itself.

You are a being endowed with volition. It's your nature to express personal choices. Yet, shame is a tool that people use to try to make those choices for you. You're told again and again which choices to make, and punished again and again into making those choices. These are choices that serve the interests of other people. They want you to make choices that make them feel secure and avoid those choices that make them feel insecure. You're told that you have an obligation to feel bad if you make the prohibited choices. This is supposed to make life more predictable and safe. It does nothing of the sort. It creates chaos and instability because, by not following their natural inclinations, people build up repressed energy within themselves that, at some point, must find an outlet. By the time that energy is expressed, the energy is so explosive, the person doesn't have control over their own feelings. It's not helpful.

Instead of deterring perversion, shame creates perversion because it teaches people to distrust themselves. Individuals abandon the only true rudder, steering their lives--their heart--and instead seek the guidance of those who don't understand the divinity of individuality. There's no safety here. There's no security here. There's no morality here. I say again, morality is appreciation. Safety and security are assured when you're in appreciation. You can't be appreciating someone and shaming them at the same time. You're either doing one or the other. You can only attend one party at a time.

You do not need to feel shame to know that you don't want to engage in some behavior that didn't work out for you. The effects of the choice are your feedback. The feelings of shame are an unnecessary confusion that keep you from learning from your experiences in a clear way. In other words, shame muddles the purity of understanding that comes from direct experience.

There aren't moral and immoral choices. There aren't good and bad choices. There aren't right and wrong choices. There are choices. Every choice is available to you, including all of the vile, twisted, obscene ones. However, you'll never make a hideous choice if you know your worthiness. The vile, twisted, obscene choices are the byproduct of believing there's something wrong or sub-par or inferior about your nature. That, too, is a choice, to believe in your own inequality. You can't get away from the fact that choice is staring you in the face at every turn, and nothing, not shame or any other convention, can narrow the scope of those choices. So, make the choices that serve your joy. Those choices are available to you even if someone else want to deny you those choices.

In order to refuse an invitation to a party of shame, you have to take yourself outside of standards of measurement. Measurement is the method people use to employ shame. You have more money or less money. You have more prestige or less prestige. You have more possessions or less possessions. You have more beauty or less beauty. You have more personality or less personality. You have more friends or less friends. You have more intelligence or less intelligence. Everyone has their trigger point for where they feel entitled to hand you an invitation to Shamefest. If you hit their red zone, they think they have permission to shame you for failing to meet their standards. But you have to accept the invitation to go to that party.

Shame doesn't serve you. Learning from your experiences and making choices that promote your desires serves you. To serve yourself, your self-respect has to be high enough to take an interest in your own well being. You're more likely to do this if you buy into the idea that you're inherently worthy.

Do you believe in your fundamental goodness? Well, do you? It's your choice. You get to believe whatever you choose. I believe we're all inherently amazing. Therefore, you're not going to find me at Shamefest. So, if you offer me that invitation, I will politely decline.

You're reading by Samantha Standish. If you want to learn more about what happened in my out-of-body experience, my book, "Equal," is available for a nominal amount at,

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