Why Shame Matters

by Mark Ivar Myhre on October 12, 2010

I have a coping mechanism that goes something like this:

Whenever I’m faced with a situation I don’t like or that makes me uncomfortable or that doesn’t go my way, then I’ll tell myself –

“It doesn’t matter.”

That way, I can dismiss the incident from my mind, and be done with it, and I won’t feel like such a schmuck.

“I really wanted that new job – but I didn’t get it.  It doesn’t matter.”

“Hey – I got a SIXTY DOLLAR parking ticket.  Oh well, it doesn’t matter.”

“I feel really awkward at this party.  Good thing it doesn’t matter.”

By telling myself the unpleasant situation doesn’t matter, I think I’m coping with it.  I’m ‘rising above it’.

I’m being ‘detached’.

How spiritual of me!

Look how evolved I am; I didn’t let that screw-up matter.

The first problem with this line of reasoning comes from not understanding what the word ‘detachment’ really means.

Detachment is not a euphemism for apathy. Instead, when you detach, first you ‘attach’ intensely, then you let go.

See?  To de-tach, first you have to a-ttach.  First you feel intensely, then you let go of those feelings.  That’s detachment.

Detachment only comes after attachment.

But if I say it doesn’t matter, then I never attached to the incident to begin with, so I can’t possibly detach from it.

The second problem with shutting out the mattering is that you’re destined to repeat the situation you don’t want to deal with. If I don’t want to deal with something in my life, then I’m keeping it present in my reality.

Oh, I can squirm and slither away.  But I’ll recreate it another day.

I can run from the form, but I can’t escape the FUNCTION – and the energy behind the function.

In fact I could spend my whole life running.  Sadly, many people do.  We run from a paper tiger we ourselves create.

And nowhere is this more poignantly illustrated than with shame.

For all the years I spent discounting and denying the mattering, no arena of life engendered more denial than my shame.

I’m flawed and defective, but it doesn’t matter.

There’s something fundamentally wrong with me, but it doesn’t matter.

I hate that I’m so ugly and repulsive and can’t be fixed, but it doesn’t matter.

Because that’s just me; that’s who I am.  So it doesn’t matter.

My coping mechanism for shame basically amounted to trying not to focus on it.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Therefore, I kept the shame ever-present.  Once I started realizing – hey, this matters! – then I could get a grip on what was happening to me.

Shame matters because you matter, and because your feelings matter.

The insidious problem with shame comes from how it cuts you off from your own true feelings.  It shuts down the limbic brain.  The actual neuronal connections become severed.  So you literally can’t feel the way you otherwise could.

Fortunately, scientists have recently discovered ‘brain plasticity’ so it’s easier for people to believe they can change their thinking by growing new neuronal pathways.

And MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY – people can now start believing they can change how they FEEL as well as how they think.

Of course brain plasticity existed before it was discovered.  But we wouldn’t give ourselves permission to CONSCIOUSLY grow new brain cells.  Now it’s becoming more and more socially acceptable.  Thanks to science.  (Must… resist… the urge… to go on a rant…)

Shame-based people especially, seek the permission from outside themselves.  I know I did.  And what a joy it was to finally discover the permission was inside myself!

Anyway, the point is you can heal those neural connections so you can finally feel the full range of feelings.
The secret to changing involves taking many baby steps.  You don’t have to hit the ball out of the park; just get to first base instead.

You do this by GIVING YOURSELF PERMISSION to feel a little more.  That’s where it starts.

I don’t know if neuroscientists have yet discovered it’s CHOICE that grows new neuronal connections.  As far as I know, they still believe it’s repetition that grows the new connections.

Well, you can be ahead of the curve here!  Of course repetition plays a part, but it would get nowhere without your choice.

Choice is one of the cornerstones of all change.  And anyone can develop the ability to make powerful choices.  I devote a whole chapter to choice in the e-book, How To Create Your Own Reality.

You need to make powerful choices. Especially if you want to make changes in your life.  And ESPECIALLY if you want to end the shame.  To get started, go to –


And let me briefly mention one major reason we refuse to change, especially when it comes to shame.

When I was filled with shame, my self image revolved around that shame.  That’s who I AM.

I AM SHAMED.  I am shamed, and it’s the only life I know.  It’s how I define myself.  I am the person who’s flawed and defective and can’t be fixed.

But if I change that – if I allow my shame to be healed  – then I will no longer know who I am. And that’s more frightening than the shame.  Shame is bad, but the unknown is terrifying.

In a strange, perverted way, my shame keeps me safe.  Safe from what?  I don’t know.  It’s unknown.

That’s the position I found myself in.  I was afraid to let go of my shame because of a nameless, faceless fear.  Therefore, I could do the shame-ending techniques as ‘intellectual exercises’ but I just wouldn’t allow myself to FEEL the very techniques I was doing.

That’s one reason why it took me so long to end my shame.  I was afraid of the unknown of losing my current identity.  So I would wrap myself in my shame – like a shawl – to protect myself from the cold winds of change.

Eventually it got so thread-bare all I could do was wrap the shawl around my eyes.  It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.  I still wouldn’t let it go.  I secretly did everything I could to keep that shawl in place.

All the while, going through the motions of trying to end the shame.

I was afraid of living a beautiful life, because the beauty was so unknown.

What changed?

Part of it came from reading my own books!

The Magic Of Forgiveness

How To Reduce Fear, Escape Anxiety & End Panic

How To Create Your Own Reality

Another part came from letting everything matter.

And the rest came from changing my self image.  I’ll be talking a lot about the self image.  Especially since I found a way to change it – the easiest, simplest way I’ve ever seen to develop a new image.

Soon it’ll be recorded as a powerful new technique of change.  For now, it’s only available to those who consult with me.

When you change your self image, everything changes.  It’s the next step after forgiving yourself.

{ 1 comment }

henrique October 12, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Curious about it.


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