How shame works
It hurts just enough.
I watch my daughter ride horses. I love watching her ride. In order to get the horse moving, she uses her heels. She digs them into the horse's side. She uses a bit of pain to keep him moving. She uses a crop as well. In addition to getting things moving, she’ll crop her horse on one side of the neck or another to keep him on track.
Functional shame is a lot like this. When shame is working well, it hurts just enough to get you moving or to let you know that you’re veering off track. Shame is a painful experience. We humans love to avoid painful experiences. When I feel like giving up, a little whiff of the shame I would experience if I did is typically enough to get motivated. If I think I may be straying from one of my core values or aspirations, a little whiff of shame is enough to get me refocused on what I need to do next.
Eventually though, shame becomes a conditioned response.
I’ve recently been told that the experience of leasing a horse is very different from riding a school hor…
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