I often felt ashamed of some feelings that crossed my body. I got so ashamed that I wrote all of them down, and I wrote on topo of them “I am made of feelings to forget”. I did not talk about them because I was afraid to be judged or rejected.
The biggest problem of all, though, was that I thought I was a bad person. No good person would feel like I felt, I decided, and I was beating myself up for it. What I did not realise was that it is not how we feel that defines us, but it is what we do about it.
My dad tried to explain it to me many times. It is one of his unmoving principles, that one: “We are what we do not what we are”, meaning, our actions count more than our thoughts. I have to say, it is true.
Let me give you an example. Your kid comes home and tells you they have been bullied. What is your first reaction? I do not know about you, but mine would be to find the responsible and slap them. Would I do it, though? No. Why? Because I know that is not how it is solved.
Simple enough, but we tend to apply this line of thought, in which some strong feelings of violence or doing something that should not be done do not make us feel ashamed because it is a first reaction but we do not act on it. Why then not applying the same line of thought to every feeling?
I believe the most common feeling of which people feel ashamed is jealousy for someone else’s success. I felt like that contantly when younger, and I thought of myself as a bad friend because I could not be happy for others. But, could I really help it? No. Did I act on it? No. I let it there while I complimented my friends, because I knew they wanted me to celebrate with them.
Furthermore, how much of this feeling is related to not being happy for the other and how much is related to we feeling like a failure? Mu thoughts were all connected to the second one. Thinking about what triggered those feelings and looking at how I acted on them made me feel much better about myself.
I also felt indifference towards stuff which should have mattered more to me. This brought the belief that I could not love anyone, and it hurt. What was I really doing, though? I was always there for the ones who needed me, even though I felt like it did not matter. My choice to be there defined me. A thought about the situation, and I realised that I felt like I did not care because my brain needed to rest, as its social batteries were low due to depression.
There are some other people who can feel indifferent because they have been hurt, so they do not want to care again because they are afraid to end up the same way. Or people who went through trauma. The most important fact to remember is that if you feel like not caring is a problem, then you are already caring enough to change this.
Some people feel like they need to take a break from others. This can happen with friends, family, or your partner, for a variety of reasons. A friend of mine told me she felt guilty because she wanted to take a break from her boyfriend, who has depression. She was crying in saying so. The thruth was the situation was getting to her and she needed a break, but that did not mean she wanted to give up. She just needed to recharge.
I told her that her feelings were valid and she should not feel guilty, and to actually speak to her boyfriend about it. They now are working on the relationship, and she is glad so opened up to him.
Another feeling that people tend to shame is to feel better or smarter than others. I felt like that a few times. In those instances I did what I felt had to be done to counterbalance it, putting myself in the background of the situation or conversation to not stand out, dimishing myself. I learnt with time that people who are clever for real are those that know how to use this superiority feeling to help others, not to impose on them.
So, I started to do that too. Whenever I felt like this in a situation I asked if they needed advice, and explained what I was thinking. I then specified that it is a way that works for me, or a thought that I have, and if they feel like it resonates in them then they should follow it. To this day I have never been told that I think too much of myself, not that I know of, at least.
Anything you are feeling, remember, you do not choose it, but you can choose what to do about it. After all, doesn’t Albus Dumbledore say something similar? “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities“. What if we can add a piece to that, and say “our abilities and our feelings”? Does not it sound like it works?
Please, let me know if your ever felt like this sometimes. And remember, be kind to yourself, always.