A little kid who’s embarrassed that he’s short, with visions of money and virgins in the next life, agrees to tape a bomb to his body, willing to incinerate this life in hope of a better one.
A girl, embarrassed that she’s fat, hides away in a quiet spot, carves deep troughs across her wrists to let this terrible life drain away.
And consider the case of a woman, so embarrassed by her size, she can’t sign up for an exercise class or return once again to that diet program. A man, shamed by his lack of strength, can’t enter the local gym, or go for a jog or buy barbells.
Embarrassment and shame are deep and difficult emotions, awful in their strength. They kill us in so many ways. Sometimes abruptly cutting a life short, sometimes chipping away at joy and strength, confidence and courage, until the shamed person has nothing left upon which to build a good life, or even an okay life.
When we are fat, unfit, when we don’t measure up, we are asked to feel ashamed and embarrassed. We are asked to apologize for ourselves constantly. We are discluded, we walk behind the bus. We don’t leave our homes unless we have to. But we are not safe in our homes. There is the media, coming into our livingrooms, enforcing deeper and deeper troughs of shame. The pressure to fit in is relentless.
But no one gains strength or drops weight who is too embarrassed to move about in the world. No one lives in the world who can’t leave the house. No one gets help who is too shamed to ask for it.
We need two things to happen here. We need to find the strength in ourselves to quell, erase, muffle our own shame and embarrassment to take on the fullness of life. And we need to take active, deliberate steps to help others silence their shame too.
Each of us can play a part in this. If you have 5 lbs. to lose or 500. If you can run 25 miles in 3 hours or walk 25 steps before collapsing. We are human beings with interesting minds and giving hearts. We need to give to each other and assume from one another the grace of this understanding.
So, our journal assignment today is to spend some time identifying how shame and embarrassment may be stopping you in your own life. That’s part one. Part two is to spend some time figuring out how you can help people overcome their own shame and embarrassment to live fuller lives.
And in particular, I know a lot of Skinny Daily readers are in “the business,” that is, helping people get fit and lose weight. I’d like to put a little pressure on each of you, especially, to consider the folks you serve. Consider who needs you the most. Consider ways to make your services more comfortable and friendly, more welcoming and warm to those with the greatest need. How can you strip all shame from the experience you offer?