Monday, April 8, 2013
the box of shame.
A few weeks ago our microwave broke, so we got a new one. And since I was done with white appliances, and chose a black microwave we kind of had to get a new black oven/stove top. And then since it was driving my husband crazy to have two black appliances, a stainless fridge and a white dishwasher, we bought a new black dishwasher to match. (No new fridge, we just got that one last year.)
Anyway, he installed the dishwasher and we were left with a big cardboard box. And everyone knows that kids love big boxes, right?
So my Maxwell - what does he make? A box of shame. At the time he had been on a kick of watching Despicable Me - and if you've seen it you know the scene where the girl is in the "box of shame" at the home for girls.
So Max made a box of shame. And quickly proceeded to get Sammy to go in it. And then quickly proceeded to convince Gma to help hold the box closed so Sammy couldn't get out, but could only peek through the "window" in the box. Yes, he even used a lot of tape!
She looked so sad in there. Staring up at Gma as if to ask, "Why are you partaking in keeping me in this box? What have I ever done that's so awful? I'm not a bad dog."
It was cute and pathetic all at the same time.
And a week later Max got in the box. Grinning from ear to ear at that point because it had become the office in his huge fort made of couch cushions and blankets.
But it got me thinking - especially after reading Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection -
how many of us recognize the difference between guilt and shame?...
There is a difference. I didn't realize it until I had read Brene's books above.
Guilt tells us we DID something bad. Our behavior was bad.
Shame tells us we ARE bad. That as a person, who did something not so good, that automatically makes our entire being and who we are - BAD.
See the difference? Guilt is about behavior. Shame is about our very being and who we are as a person.
HUGE difference, huh?
Guilt makes us feel bad about something we said or did.
Shame slowly erodes at our sense of self, our sense of worthiness, and sense of whether we are lovable just as we are - good, bad and ugly combined.
Shame leaves us wondering if we are really "enough."
I'm the first to admit that it's quick to make the jump from "your behavior was bad" to "you are bad."
I've put Max in that box.
I've put my husband in that box.
I've put friends and family in that box.
And worse yet, I continue to willing put myself in that box, and label myself as the bad mom/wife/friend/daughter/sister/photographer/etc.
"You yelled at Max - you're a bad person."
"You weren't patient with Max - you're a bad person."
"You snapped at Eric because you're in a bad mood - you're a bad person."
"You yanked on the dog's leash because she's taking forever to go potty while you stand in the pouring rain - You're a bad person." I've shamed myself to the moon and back, ten ways till Sunday.
Think about it. Really think about it...
How many times have you mistaken poor choices in behavior of others as them being bad.
We do it all the time as parents, right? We've all said to our kid, "You're a bad boy/girl. Don't do that again!" When we really should be saying, "Your behavior was not nice/uncalled for/disrespectful/(fill-in-the-blank) Please do not BEHAVE that way again."
See the difference?
That box is still sitting in our living room. Part of me wants to toss it. Burn it even, as a symbol of telling shame where the heck it can go. And part of me wants to keep it around as a reminder of how often I put others and myself in that box.
And if you are a parent or spouse or sibling or daughter/son or friend to anyone on God's green earth, I highly suggest you read Daring Greatly. And then read it again.
My deep thoughts for Monday.