Part of The Inner Space Series. Blistering Corrosive Shame is a Digital Collage which carries at its heart the deep sense that it is flawed, unacceptable, unloveable and wrong. Guilt and Shame are different emotions, they can occur together and are often confused. Guilt is a feeling we get when we recognise that something that we have done through our actions, behaviours or words has been inapproriate, hurtful and potentially damaging to ourselves or others. Although it can be an uncomfortable experience, when Guilt is healthy and proportionate it is a prosocial emotion, providing us with an internal map that helps us define healthy boundaries in relationship to others. We experience Guilt when we cross a line, and by recognising when healthy guilty feelings occur we have an opportunity to correct course and apologise where needed. We learn from and use our experiences of Guilt to develop our indvidual sense of right and wrong, as well as to inform and intuit the appropriate contexts in which future behaviours will be received and accepted.
While Guilt applies to our actions, Shame is a beast of a different nature. Shame is the feeling we have when we experience our own selves as somehow broken, rotten, corrupted, not good enough or lesser than… A chronic sense of Shame is usually instilled during early childhood relationships when we are neglected, unaccepted, or harshly reprimanded by caregivers who continuously empasized that fault lay with our own self, as opposed to in our actions; The seeds of Shame are also planted in households where physical abuse (hitting and slapping) and/or emotional abuse (name calling, coercion and bullying) were prevalent.
Chronic Shame can be carried throughout an entire life and is seriously damaging. A pernicious sense of being tainted, bad and wrong may colour all experiences and contributes to self loathing forms of Depression. Chronic Shame can lead a person to hide away from life, avoiding risks and opportunities. The chronically shamed may also have trouble with love, they may feel like an imposter, be unwilling to be vulnerable, and may falsely anticipate that their partners will leave when they discover who they really are. Chronic Shame can also be the driving force behind those individuals who run themselves into the ground constantly striving, working and acheiving in a forever war to fill their own void of “never good enough”. No doubt about it Shame is heavy stuff.