This morning someone I didn’t know did her best job to publicly shame me and now, about ninety minutes since the initial sting, my thought it, “Wow. I’ve been publicly shamed! That hasn’t happened for a while.”
I could have done what I once did which was fall to my knees in mourning as I pluck each of my marbles from the ground and skulked off, whether or not what the shamer was saying about me was true or not.
You might be lost in your wondering, “What did the shamer do to try to shame you?” I don’t want to give it undue attention and I know about curious wandering minds so here it is, in a nutshell.
I offered to create micro-communities on Instagram for a challenge I am in, small communities of artists and makers to support each other during the challenge.
I had quite a few people agree being in a micro-community would be fun so for much of yesterday and a bit of the day before I put people into groups and contacted each person who said they wanted to be a part of this letting them know they were in and how to access the instructions.
One woman said she wanted to be in a micro-community and wrote a long reply, stating she had looked at my feed and deemed it not full of enough art so I must be a fraud, out to cause harm or worse yet, bring attention only to myself.
I took a breath and replied, sharing about my video project – and saying I had spent the last day and a half putting people into small groups and while I was at it, complimented her project.
Maybe to her I do look like a fake, possibly because my Instagram feed doesn’t look like hers. It looks like an eclectic blend of images – two of which on the first row were video screen shots and another was a poetry prompt and quote, the theme of my videos.
In her article, “Shame on you! Do you use shame to control others?” in Psychology Today, Melissa Kirk writes, “The reason shame works so well is because we’re wired to connect to and seek acceptance from others. Shame effectively withdraws that acceptance and connection.”
Ouch. She is describing what I have often called “Using shame as a verb.”
Today, I did something I didn’t used to be able to do.
I brushed the shame dust off my clothes by journaling, writing this essay, reading poetry and yes, I worked on the mixed media art piece I started earlier this week.
The biggest a-ha from the situation is this: the more I put myself out there, the more vulnerable I will be to people who are likely to want to use shame as a weapon against others who are not like them or who do not fit into their carefully delineated mode.
My job, instead of fighting back and creating more of an uproar, is simply to continue creating, to keep making, and to explore any niggling themes that are bothering me about the episode.
These may also be useful as future writing and journaling prompts when episodes like this happen again or if they may happen to you.
- Is there truth in anything she said?
- Is there something in my behavior I might modify?
- What bothers me the most about what was said to me?
- Is my motivation coming from the greater good?
- Am I willing to have this uncomfortable feeling of shaming in order to make a difference in the world?
During my visit to Poetry Foundation website today, looking for poetry for my live-streams next week, I synchronistically found this quote:
“Poets aren’t just makers, they are doers,” says Don Share, editor of Poetry
I am a doer who also does her best to make the world a better place.
Sometimes my actions – my doings – may be misunderstood. I am strong enough to accept the “shaming-as-a-verb” that comes my way as a result because the work I do and the people the work impacts is more valuable to the world than this other person’s assessment.
Julie JordanScott is the Creative Life Midwife. She inspires people to live their life as an artform and take action towards their best results. During the 2020 Pandemic she is also leading daily Virtual Coffee Dates, Facilitating Intentional Conversation so people will feel less isolated during this time of social and physical distancing. Join the conversation by registering for free by clicking this link.