Is there any feeling more corrosive than shame? Rage, jealousy, and fear… they come and go, but – in my experience – once they’re gone it’s hard to recall what I was so angry or jealous or afraid of.
Shame, though? Remembering something I’m ashamed of can curdle my insides years after the event occurred.
Why am I writing about shame today?
Because while most of us know that overtly shaming others is no good, I have been thinking a lot about the subtle ways we shame one another… and with the end of the Covid pandemic on the horizon it occurs to me that these subtle ways of shaming each other need to be discussed.
What kinds of subtle shaming am I talking about?
Safety Shaming: As we once again gather in groups, there are going to be all kinds of levels of comfort with wearing masks and wiping down surfaces. In these moments, it’s easy to downplay others’ concerns about disinfecting the picnic table or wearing masks on public transportation. Don’t do it. Take the extra step to make friends and family comfortable.
Anxiety Shaming: As above, everyone is going to have different levels of comfort with when, and how, they are willing to re-engage in public gatherings. If someone says to you, “Oh, I don’t think I’m ready for in-restaurant dining/a night at the movies/to hop on a plane,” don’t force it. We’ve all gotten very good at finding alternative activities this past year. Pick another.
Solo Shaming: For some people the past year has offered an unprecedented opportunity to indulge interests and passions they might never have had time to pursue. Now that gathering is once again possible, please don’t shame them for wanting to continue their solo hours of puzzling, metal detecting or watercolor painting. If they’re happy on their own, be happy for them.
Any other choice would be a shame.
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