The Corner of Shame
"Stand in the corner and be ashamed of yourself!"
Did you have a corner of shame in your classroom? Or in your home?
In my school we did.
Different teachers had different places they thought were appropriate for this purpose.
Some would send us to a corner of the classroom, where we would stand until penance time was over.
We had to face the wall and not turn around for the entire five, sometimes ten, minutes. An eternity to stand, ashamed, in a corner.
The air would turn thick from collective uneasiness. Even the innocent ones felt the shame during those minutes.
Other teachers would send us out of the classroom, out to stand in the corridor. We were to feel the shame by being separated from the rest. I don’t remember having stood in that corner.
I was a good girl.
It was usually one of the boys who had to experience this, as far as I remember.
But the shame! I felt the shame as if it were my own. Every time. Without exception.
At home we were sent to our room
I have seen children being locked up in closets or locked outside in the cold, to feel their shame.
There are many ways to do this. There are many ways to shame.
I think my method,with my children, was to have them sit on a chair in the kitchen, while I was cooking or washing the dishes. They had to sit there until they felt like nice children again.
I regret having done that now.
Our former teachers and parents probably also regret a lot of methods they used.
Now we are older, and wiser. Had I only known then, what I know now.
Nonetheless, the damage was done.
Many who come to me for help with their lives, through the Tarot, actually seek help to free themselves from the trauma of different types of “shame corners”, in order to get on with their lives.
Statements like.. “you are in the way”, “you talk too much”, “how could you be so stupid”, “you are so slow”, “you are so clumsy”, “you can do better than that” all have the same shaming effect.
They all add up to the sum of “You are worthless and unwanted!”
So many of us still carry this "worthlessness" and "unwontedness" around in our stomachs while spending all our energy, trying to prove the statement and the feeling false.
To our parents.
To our spouses
To our children.
To our working places.
To life itself.
It blinds us, and ties us.
Fighting to be seen, heard, valued, loved….. Not able to recognize it even when we are…seen, heard, appreciated, loved….
Words have such power.
Both negative and positive words have power.
So often, one negative experiences can erase nine good ones. Why?
Because our basic belief about ourself was often formed in a “corner of shame”. So the negative statements match the basic belief we have about ourself.
It confirms what we already know.
Compliments and thank you’s are wonderful. Wonderful to give and wonderful to receive.
But on someone who still lives in the “corner of shame” they peel off like water on an oily surface.
A compliment may produce a smile and a bow, without ever reaching the recipient’s heart.
Thich Naht Hanh said,
“People have a hard time letting go of suffering. Out of fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar”.
Blessings work where the compliment fails.
A blessing allows the “blesser” to be a bridge between the divine and the “blessed”.
A bridge for God to reach out.
That is why, I bless everything from my coffee to the Empress and Emperor of Japan.
And now, I bless you!
May your day be blessed with kind words, and smiles to warm your heart today and every day. May we practice awareness around the words we choose.
Previously published on September 15, 2017