It takes a lot of energy to avoid shame.
Trying to avoid shame doesn’t lead you to where you want to be in life.
Instead of heading for the things you want to do, your focus is drawn to what you want to avoid (don’t want to be seen as; don’t want to feel…).
Trying to avoid being seen as selfish, lazy, dumb, unintelligent, bad, self absorbed, unbalanced, weird, bossy, shy, worthless etc, is a common driving force in many people’s lives. It makes us self judgmental, withdrawn, externalized (acting out) and other things that doesn’t promote connection.
Instead I can look shame in the eyes and ask it to show itself.
”So what if I am all the things you say I am and that I use to try not to be; what if? Would that make me unworthy of love and connection?”
Here I can choose if I want to expand my self image to humbly include everything that might be true about a human being. Doing so is very deliberating. It doesn’t mean that I am selfish and lazy (or else), it does only mean that if I happen to be, I would still be ok. I don’t need to judge that about me or anyone else, everything is ok.
Beyond that there’s also an empathetic level of understanding where ”selfish” equals ”trying to take care of one’s own needs while, by some reason, not being able to care for other’s needs at the same time” and ”dumb” equals for example ”not understanding a thing in the way it was explained” or ”being unable to understand or do something in the present moment because of stress” or similar.
During the years I’ve added selfish, self absorbed, dumb, unbalanced, boring, annoying, demanding, dramatic, my need for closeness and confirmation etc in my possible self image. If that was true, it would be ok. I would still be ok.
What do you try to avoid being seen as? Do you judge this in other people? Could it be understood with empathy?