The Light of Dreams

The light on the house feels warm,
For a moment I get lost in that life,
Or what I imagine that life could be,
Coming home to the one who sees you,
Having someone to consider…
The best part of every past relationship and love story flash before my eyes,
Constructing this dream where everything stays new,
If the feeling were a potion it’d be a mixture of ocean breezes, the smell of sunscreen and salt air, beautiful sunsets, and full moons on paydays starting a long holiday weekend.

Then the light at the intersection turns green and I have to go,
Leaving the house with the warm light and the dream behind,
Back to reality,
Where nothing new can stay.

Integrity

I’d never given much though to the meaning behind the word integrity. I knew integrity meant having morals and values and abiding by them. However, in reading, “Further Along, the Road Less Traveled,” By Scott M. Peck. M.D., he provides a more complete definition which is, “the state of being whole and undivided.” Basically having all of you be integrated. Being consistently you in every situation. When you think of integrity in this way it is much more profound. You can’t be you consistently if you don’t know who you are. You can’t be you consistently if you have fear of showing that self to others. Many people including myself have played the role of a chameleon at times. It takes real courage to be you at all times. A true level of honesty and vulnerability that most people are afraid to have. Committing to integrity has its price.

Many people I believe mask their emotions to others. Especially in business, it is almost expected for you to do so. To some degree this makes sense as you wouldn’t be successful operating under hysteria. However, as humans, emotions come with the gig. To expect someone to operate without them or to mask them expertly at all times is unreasonable. My honesty to myself and others about my internal state of emotions and thoughts are one area where I display high levels of integrity. This has not always played well in my favor. Especially during the years where my internal state was extremely volatile. My moods still, if I am not consistently using my tools and being mindful, can fluctuate unexpectedly. To some degree this is a part of just being human, moods and such. Having struggled with a mood disorder though for many years, my mood shifts are much more extreme than the average person.

In retrospect, I’ve wondered would I have a less muddled image if I had a better poker face? A better reputation if I were able to better hide my energy and emotions and put on the mask that many people are savants at wearing?

Brene Brown when she talked about vulnerability said:

“Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story?”

I’ve always struggled with this sort of discernment though. I’m not sure I’ve ever made anyone “earn the right” to hear my story. My story is always here, accessible, and available. This could leave me in a place to be hurt, if I allow it to hurt me. It feels like I’ve trailed off from my topic a bit, but I think these are connected. My struggle with sharing who I am, my internal state, as a form of integrity. Should I be making people earn that right? Is a lack of discrimination in who I am honest or openness with, integrity? Or just stupid recklessness?

Online Shaming During the Pandemic.

I woke up this morning feeling very heavy with the amount of shaming that has been occurring over the last several weeks on social media platforms regarding the pandemic. People expressing their opinions, judgements, and jokes about others regarding toilet paper, travel, social distancing, and now wearing masks. Online shaming has in itself become a new norm providing an avenue for someone to express their judgement and get validated for it.

I’ve never had much education around shame. The most amount of education prior to today that I’d received on shame is from the TedX talk by Brene Brown. In her talk, she stated, “Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.”

Shame occurs regularly in society. It has been there all along and I never recognized it for what it was. “Shame is external and comes from judgment from others to try to enforce social norms…Social Norms are unwritten rules about how to behave. They provide us with an expected idea of how to behave in a particular social group or culture.” (McLeod, 2008). Examples of social norms include flushing the toilet when you exit a bathroom stall, washing your hands before leaving the restroom, covering your mouth when you cough, and chewing with your mouth closed.

Shaming is an “attempt to enforce either a real, or perceived, violation of a social norm…External enforcement for norm violation might be shaming or ostracizing the violator from the group; or it could be honoring an individual for compliance with the norm” (Klonic, 2016).

Shaming has been and is used in religion, politics, our schools, and legal systems. “In the bible, nakedness is a source of shame. The book of Genesis 2:25 says of Adam and Eve, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” That changed when they rebelled against God’s commandment and ate of the tree of knowledge. From then on, they felt ashamed in each other’s presence: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” This biblical interpretation of nakedness as shameful still deeply informs the social norms and conventions that determine how we deal with human physicality and sexuality. Although our notions of whether, how, where and in the presence of whom a person may be undressed have changed over the centuries, the shame we feel when we transgress the norms has remained” (Kammerer, 2019).

My Catholic upbringing kept me in the closet for years for the fear of being shamed and shunned for being gay.

Our legal system uses shaming as a means for punishment and one form which I’d not given much thought to before is by forcing those who receive a DUI to have “drunk tags” on their car. Alcoholism is something in particular that is often publicly shamed due to the misunderstanding of the illness. Social shaming occurs within the recovery community itself to aid in enforcing certain behaviors such as getting a sponsor and service work. During the pandemic there has been shaming around those choosing to stay home and attend zoom meetings versus those choosing to continue to go to in person meetings. Those choosing to go to meetings quoting the responsibility statement. Those choosing to stay home quoting the CDC. Both creating a divide within the community.

As I continued my research this morning one article discussed how shame has been used in our school systems through charts depicting good or bad behavior. This made me reflect back to my second grade school teacher. She had a giant cutout of a dog house that she kept at the front classroom. Each student in the class had a bone with their name written on it. If we misbehaved in class we were asked to get up in front of the class and retrieve our bone and put it in the dog house. Clearly this made an impact on me considering this is one of the few things that I recall from my early years.

From the limited amount of research I have done, it seems that shame can sometimes be effective in controlling behavior, hence its still prevalent use in society.

The problems though with using shame as a means for social norms enforcement is, “it creates an ‘us or them’ boundary that reinforces group affiliation and separateness. It can become about groups, perceived good guys and bad guys and not about issues” (Rutledge, 2015).

“Shaming  is an attack, it triggers our desire to protect ourselves and withdraw. It is not the opening of a dialogue.  While I am in favor of highlighting places in society where change is desirable, promoting shaming as a solution hurts us all.   Negative emotions make people (and organizations) close-up; they diminish cognitive flexibility and lessen the willingness to consider other points of view.  Using social shaming creates exactly the opposite environment to the one that would be most likely to lead to positive resolution” (Rutledge, 2015).

The problems specifically with online shaming is that the effects are unending. Once posted, the punishment is ongoing which seems unjust for a potential slight infringement. In addition, it does not always take into account the full story. Perhaps the reason you saw xyz person without a mask, or out in public, is for a “good” socially acceptable reason? “When the state punishes, it has applied a process to determine whether the person being punished has in fact committed the thing for which they are being punished. No such measure exists in norm enforcement and the Internet’s ability to amplify social norm enforcement punishment is made even worse when there was no actual norm violation to cause it” (Klonic, 2016).

The other down side to using shame is that you can’t be sure of its effectiveness. Shaming is only effective if those it is being used on have the same societal norms as you and place the same value on those norms.

You also never know how shame will be internalized by another individual. Some people are more shame-prone and others more guilt-prone. People who are more shame-prone tend to have greater levels of depression and anxiety. Your intentions might be good in attempting to shame people to “right behavior” however if they are shame-prone it can have a much deeper effect. An example provided by Kammerer, 2019, shows the difference in guilt-prone vs shame-prone individuals. “A shame-prone individual who is reprimanded for being late to work…might be likely to think, ‘I’m such a loser; I just can’t get it together,’ whereas a guilt-prone individual would more likely think, ‘I feel badly for showing up late. I inconvenienced my co-workers.’ Feelings of shame can be painful and debilitating, affecting one’s core sense of self, and may invoke a self-defeating cycle of negative affects.”

We all are going to have judgements, we are human. Understanding the impact judgements and shaming can have on others though has been extremely eye-opening for me.

To end this on a more positive note, here are a couple tips I found on the Clearview Treatment Programs website, 2020, on ways out of shame:

  1. Seek out relationships and commit to vulnerability with safe people.Do everything in your power to find community. Shame begins to disappear when it is shared in a safe place.
  2. Move out of your head and into the open.Don’t keep everything inside. Put your shame out into the world. Write about the shame. Share your story of shame. Create artwork that represents your shame. Shame finds healing when it is taken outside of ourselves and placed into the world in some way.
  3. Develop self-compassion.Consider what you would say to a friend who was feeling the same things you feel. Begin to respond to yourself with love and care and concern, just as you would respond to others with love and care and concern.

 

 

References

Kammerer, A. 2019. The Scientific Underpinnings and Impacts of Shame. Retrieved from:  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-scientific-underpinnings-and-impacts-of-shame/

Klonic, K. 2016. Re-Shaming the Debate: Social Norms, Shame, and Regulation in the Internet Age. Maryland Law Review. v. 17., Issue 4.

McLeod, S. 2008. Social Roles. Retrieved from: https://www.simplypsychology.org/social-roles.html

Shannon, Lori. 2020. Clearview Treatment Programs. 5 Ways Shame Can Shape Your Life. Retrieved from: https://www.clearviewtreatment.com/blog/5-ways-shame-can-shape-life/

Rutledge, P. B., Ph.D. 2015. Psychology Today. Shame on Social Shamers. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/positively-media/201505/shame-social-shamers

COVID – 19 Word of The Day Journal

Well I suppose we should talk about the thing that is on everyones’ mind. The Corona Virus Diseases of 2019, in abbreviated from, COVID-19. When it first was identified in China, many of us, including myself, compared it to one of the many other dooms day news stories we’ve heard in the past, such as SARS or the West Nile Virus. Perhaps it was when it began to spread and people begun being quarantined. Or after the National Guard’s sortie in New York to quarantine a city. Maybe it was when an entire country shut down and we woke to the news that Italy was closed. It may have been on Black Monday when the stock market had its greatest drop since the recession of 2008. Regardless of when, it became clear that the comparisons were odious. This lunker of a virus is something unlike anyone of our generation has ever seen. It is overwhelming, partly because of the intake of all the available media concerning it. To top it off we are amidst the US political presidential race causing the virus to be used for political gain amongst both parties, and biasing our media.

There are many conspiracy theorists and skeptics stating that this is a hoax or a move to take down the global economy. The distrust in our political systems and in our government has caused me to question the motives behind some of the actions that have been taken. This virus has become yet another thing to turn the people against one another. You’ve got one side taking it extremely serious and abiding by the social distancing recommendation from the CDC. Then you’ve got the other side who doesn’t buy into the severity of the issue and living out life as they typically would. Both sides having verbal altercations over the matter through social media and/or in person. Perhaps this was the plan?

The hysteria around the issue has caused people to panic and bulk buy items from the grocery store. You then have those judging the ones bulk buying. Yet, when those same ones judging stumble upon reservoirs of supplies, find themselves snatching up extra. This virus has resulted in an awareness of just how fragile all of our social and economical systems are. Leaving many of us longing for the easy street we had unknowingly been walking for most of our lives. Already reminiscing the days as epicureans when the decision between a t-bone or ribeye was our biggest challenge at the store.

It has only been a week, maybe two of social distancing, and already I feel the effects. The question looming on all of our minds, how long will this last?

 

Abbreviate – to make briefer; especially : to reduce (a word or name) to a shorter form intended to stand for the whole
Lunker – something unusually large for its kind.
Epicurean – Devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, particularly the enjoyment of gourmet food.
Sortie – a military action in which besieged troops burst forth from their position
Intake – the number of things or people that are taken into something
Long for – to want something you miss very much
Easy Street – financial security
Comparisons are odious – Comparison (especially of people) is not productive and can have unpleasant consequences. People should be judged on their own merits. Note: comparison (noun) = the act of comparing | compare (verb) = measure or note the similarity or dissimilarity between people or things | odious (adj) = extremely unpleasant; distasteful

How Bizarre

Sometimes my mind gets so full with awareness of how bizarres it is, this world we live in. Take corporations for example. People make up some service, give it a label, put shiny things around it, logos, websites, business cards, marketing. Then with a dash – include your “important” title, CEO, and Co-founder, your name. There you go. Legitimacy. Then you work to get followers on social media. Then, if you begin to get big enough you can build social classes within your org structures. The kind where when someone says jump others say how high. The place where you go but don’t allow people to have feelings or original thoughts. Where you can evaluate people annually by a set of unrecognizable standards that aren’t applicable to anyone which are ignored anyway and ultimately give raises based on how well you like people. Were we better off on a bartering system?

Or how about the system of housing where unless you live somewhere until you die, the poor house just never gets paid off. If a house was originally built for $100,000. It sells for $150,000 in 1815. Just making up numbers and dates. Then let’s say every 20 years it gets sold to a new owner. It is in an up and coming neighborhood and with inflation, each time it gets resold the cost goes up $10,000. So now the person who bought the house in 2015 owes $400,000 for a house that is almost a 200 years old and has already probably been paid for twice over. I’m terrible at math so not even sure if those numbers work out, but you get the point. It will continue to re-sell unless someone stays in it until they die and passes it down in the family forever. How bizarre.

The other thing I was thinking about is how everyone, including myself, wants to think we are special in some way, even though really we aren’t. I mean, I know people are like snowflakes, right? Each one unique. Unique yes. But is everyone really special? We all crave opportunities to feel unique and special. I am going to give some examples, some that I have been guilty of myself. Being the #1 fan of anything. First of all, you aren’t, lol. Second of all, who cares. Why do we feel like this makes us special in some way. And lord forbid if you luck out and a new movie of something you were always a “#1 fan” of comes out, or the main character in that movie dies in real life. You just hit the lottery! This is your moment to REALLY shine. You get to post on social media, to make sure everyone remembers how much of a fan you were, and how significant this is to you. What is that?? We’ll try to one-up someone on how much trauma we’ve experienced. How “hard we’ve had it.” Or on the flip side, “look at how good I have it.” Why? We are all looking for a niche to show some sort of skill to try to find our self-worth? Is my self-worth under this painting? Perhaps inside this sculpture? Did they hide it in my bonus? Perhaps it’s in this kid I accidentally had? I never checked behind this degree on my wall. Will they forget me or did I even exist if I don’t find it? I must be here for some reason. I must be special. I know I’m special my mother told me so and everyone around agreed at how special I was compared to other babies. They didn’t say those things to all babies right? No, definitely not. I was special. But are we? Do we have a purpose? Argue your point. I don’t have one, I’m just lying here wondering,  how bizarre.

We are on a roll so lets keep going. Other random thoughts. I read a psychology study one time and it talked about how upon interviews with doctors, people, primarily women, but I think even men too, they hide their underwear when they get naked in doctors offices. Why do we do that? Is the underwear dirty? So why do we hide them? Are we ashamed of our underwear? Do we think they smell? Are we worried someone will steal them? You tell me? I think for myself, there is some weird embarrassment around someone seeing my underwear. But again why? I’m about to spread eagle in front of that same person. They can see my labia but not my jockey shorts? Another question I wonder a lot about is when women go to the gyno, why are some more comfortable seeing a man vs seeing a woman? I prefer to see a woman EVERYTHING, therapist, pcp , eye doctor, surgeons, ob/gyn. I’ve always had male dentists though. I think that might be more due to the lack of female dentist in my network near where I live tho perhaps. Why do I want all female doctors? Am I looking for the nurturing I did not get as a kid? Does anyone else think of this shit? I must be special because I have these thoughts, lol. How bizarre.