I believe we need to move from a culture of shame to one of of responsibility and love, as a step in transforming ourselves and creating the world most of us want.
Shame is so intimately woven into our lives that most of the time we don't even see it. It's in our homes, our communities, our schools, our churches and our government. It doesn't recognize borders, race nor ethnicity. There is research showing that babies, though they may not have the vocabulary, know shame. I suspect that's because they feel and experience it from the mother and also because it gets past down through our DNA.
What often happens when someone makes a mistake, a bad choice, or just screws up...we shame them. More shame...I believe this is worth saying...does not cure shame, nor does it foster growth or change. What it does instead is drive it deeper, causing even more pain and making it that much harder to heal and change.
So how do we go from a culture of shame to one of responsibility and love. I believe it starts with ourselves, or as Michael Jackson put it, “I'm starting with the man in the mirror.”
We need to be able to look into the mirror and take responsibility for our part, and yet recognize that “our part” does not mean the whole enchilada...rather it's the notion that we are all responsible for ourselves, and we all play a part in any given situation.
Our part is a neutral term, not weighted with shame as is often hidden in the question, “Who is responsible for this?”
Responsibility takes on a different meaning through this process. Being responsible for ourselves can help us feel empowered...by owning it we take the power away from others to use it against is, we begin to feel less like victims, and eventually are able to see how the experiences in our lives have helped us become who we are today. The idea that “we are responsible for our thoughts, feelings and our body”, can become one of freedom, and not one of restraint.
As we begin to embrace this new level of awareness and compassion for ourselves, it becomes easier to do the same for others.