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O Shame, Where is Thy Secret Source?

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     --But how could you help that?

     --Don't you think the things people are most ashamed of are things they can't help.

In Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince, the passive connotations of shame, in association with a lack of self-regulation, are illustrated in this passage:

     --Why are you drinking? demanded the little prince.

     --So that I may forget, replied the tippler.

     --Forget what? inquired the little prince, who was already sorry for him.

     --Forget that I am ashamed, the tippler confessed, hanging his head.

     --Ashamed of what? insisted the little prince, who wanted to help him.

     --Ashamed of drinking.

The tippler is ashamed of his weakness with regard to self-regulation, and that weakness is directly related to inner passivity.

It's important to know that shame emerges from inner passivity. As a symptom of a deeper issue, shame can be impervious to a direct approach. It can, however, be undermined from below when we burrow deep enough to expose its roots in inner passivity. We can begin to eliminate inner passivity as we see how, through it, we allow ourself to be harassed and bullied by our inner critic or superego. We become empowered as we begin to take responsibility for having let our inner critic get away with being a bully.

Inner passivity is also the weakness within us that makes us defensive in our dealings with other people. When we begin to recognize and put a stop to our inner and outer defensiveness, we are shifting our consciousness away from (or out of) inner passivity. The inner strength we begin to feel makes us very pleased--not at all ashamed--to be who we are.

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Peter Michaelson is an author, blogger, and psychotherapist in Plymouth, MI. He believes that better understanding of depth psychology reduces the fear, passivity, and denial of citizens, making us more capable of maintaining and growing our (more...)
 
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