On Pre-Emptive Shame

While I understand the distinction between shame and guilt being between “how I am” vs “what I did”, I feel like this misses what is for me a major component of shame.

Shame is often pre-emptive: I feel ashamed of things I want to do, before I’ve even done them. I fear mockery and ostracism. The bookstore was playing a danceable song today, and I wanted to dance, or at least sing along… but I did neither. I did not want to draw attention to myself. I did not want to be mocked.

How many other people wanted to sing or dance? But nobody did. Doing so would cause mockery.

I do not, and did not, feel shame for wanting to sing and dance, nor did I feel shame for not doing so. But there are other things that I want that I don’t mention that I do feel shame over.

I imagine this is because, if I were to ask for those things and get mocked, I would feel seriously rejected. I wouldn’t feel rejected if I sang in public and got strange looks. It is also astonishing to me how often I feel shame and subsequently filter myself when I objectively know that not only would I not get mocked, but that the people I’m filtering myself around want me to be myself.

They want me to do “it”. I want to do “it”. But I don’t even bring it up because I’m used to being afraid of being mocked.

Emotions do not speak the language of logic.

I have some stories to tell, when they are ready to be told.

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