2021.12.31 Journal

* Day three of journaling about Shame/Humiliation/Misery
** Do research on the internet about shame
* Watch the video of week 8 of the 3VQ course

* Meditation – Day 662
* Yoga – Day 4
* Journaling – Day 5

Reflections:: Woke up around 7:15am without an alarm and felt excited to jump into my morning routine. The movements feel normal now. I like waking up on my own and being able to dive right into my routine. It makes me think about how I’ll need to communicate to be enthusiastic about waking up next to someone also. Likely it has to do with setting expectations and being clear about what my preferences are. Otherwise, the person who wakes up next to me will be set up to feel rejected or pushed away when they are trying to be accommodating or welcoming if I’m at their place, or they’re trying to be considerate and a good guest if they are at mine. Things to communicate include: I enjoy cuddling in the morning, but it’s more important to me that I get out of bed immediately upon waking up and jump into my routine. You are welcome to join in my routine, to do so, you can read the following chapters in this book which will explain it. Otherwise, I’ll be happier if I do it alone at my own pace. I’ll try communicating this list next time I know I’ll be waking up in the same room as someone else and see how it goes.

Yesterday I ran approximately 5.8 miles after leaving my friend’s place. Felt good to see evidence that I’m in the sort of shape where I can decide to run that far on a whim and it feels fine.

While on the run, I noticed that when I journaled on shame, most of the memories that come up were from my teenage years. I guess those were years that shame was a primary emotion. Which makes sense, because I was performing a lot of actions that I would want someone to feel shame around. After making a bunch of mistakes in my teenage years, and some in my early 20’s, I’ve learned from the situations and for the most part not made the same sorts of mistakes. Though I have made new ones, and those ones seem a little smaller. But they come with feelings of shame nonetheless.

For example, while typing I recall going to a friend’s white elephant party in my 30’s and making a bunch of social mistakes since I didn’t know the norms of that sort of event. I brought the wrong kind of present, and thought we were supposed to take the stockings home. So I was then embarrassed by the gift I brought, and embarrassed again when I thought I was leaving with the gift stocking and someone called that out. I was pretty surprised at how much I misread the situation, and on the hosts’ end, it probably hadn’t occurred to them that someone who was part of their social circle, grew up in the US, and was in their 30’s didn’t know the norms of how to act in that sort of event.

Another thing I’m ashamed of is how many weddings I’ve not gone to, or how little I understood how important they were to the people throwing them. I’ve just completely missed weddings – including for a couple of people I consider best friends. Once it’s been because I fully intended to go but had the date wrong – though I also missed the bachelors events previously. Another time it’s because I just didn’t know it was a big deal. And yet another time it’s because I let myself be convinced by my partner that I was invited last second to an international destination, so the person inviting me was probably just inviting me to be nice but didn’t actually care if I showed up. She may have been right, but I still cared about that person and would have liked to attend.

Wow! Now I’m noticing that while there were lots of obvious things to be ashamed of in my teenage years, now that I’ve written about them, what comes up are new things that have occurred since. They’re just not as heavy a burden to be carrying around as the ones from my teenage years. I’m excited to see what else comes up. The patterns I’m noticing though, is that a big source of my shame is when I’m in a situation and do not know how to act. It’s usually when I’m in a situation for the first time and act without mindfulness and consideration for other people. When I was younger, it was worse though. I’d be in situations and repeatedly act in ways that would create shame. I’m now wondering when I act in ways that I’m ashamed of. What comes to mind is times when I play video games – happens a couple of weeks/ year. But even as I type that, it sounds like a silly thing to feel shame around. Of course I should be allowed to do something unproductive and unwind for a bit. And actually, I find that usually when I’m playing video games – usually roleplaying games by independent developers – I learn about myself in ways that I find interesting. I guess the shame feeling is a blunt way of setting a boundary, since there was a time in my late teens/ early 20’s when I did play too many video games and it interfered with my schooling, relationships, and wider goals. But now it’s different. I have a to-do list, accomplish everything on this to-do list, and set parameters for when I’ll do something like that – when I’m on break from work and want to veg out and intentionally not be social during a pandemic. OK, interesting thing for me to process just now. Cool to see how I can feel an emotion and as I examine it and ask it what it wants to tell me, the emotion shifts. I’m really appreciating the emotion of shame, as it helps me notice what sorts of actions I want to avoid. If I didn’t feel shame, the younger version of me who was too immature to be making decisions based on wanting others to feel good, needed to be hit over the head with a blunter tool – feeling bad about himself. And it’s a feeling that still leads me in the right direction even today. So now, I’m feeling like what’s happening is I’m learning to smile at the feeling of shame and feel grateful for it. And I have an opportunity to understand that while the feeling follows from actions that I’ve taken, and I’m grateful that those actions resulted in feelings of shame, and I don’t want to take actions that inspire shame if I can avoid them, that they’ll likely happen, it’s part of life/ part of growing, and being in harmony with life means occasionally feeling shame. So while I wish to avoid taking actions that result in shame whenever I catch them, they will come up during my life, and rather than being repelled by the feeling I can make space for it and feel the feeling. I can have a feeling of reverence for the actions I took as they were part of my growing and maturation processes. It’s complex. Because as I explore the emotion of shame and understand it better, I have a greater appreciation and start valuing it. I’m seeing it shift from being something I judged as undesirable and avoided, to something I’m actively loving about myself. I think it’s pretty cool that we have shame. And I’m smiling a little as I’m typing this. Shame helped me stop doing stupid things that were bad for me and hurt other people. And around the world, shame is doing the same thing for others. I didn’t understand it at the time, and there will always be more to understand about this emotion, but I now love this about myself and other humans. As a base emotion, shame is really effective at keeping us in harmony with each other. Thank you shame, for helping me grow. I’m excited to find out how my feelings about shame continue evolving and deepening as I continue exploring it. It’s only my third day of journaling about it, and I’ve got four more days left to go. 9:07am.

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