Shame is something I feel and think about a great deal and it’s interesting to me how people grapple to define it. For example, the first definition of “shame” I found online this morning …
… didn’t seem to align with the way I think about shame, which may or may not be preceded by “wrong or foolish behavior.” However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that “consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior” doesn’t necessarily mean that the person feeling shame actually did something “wrong” or “foolish” — they might just think or feel that they had. And, one might argue that any behavior could be seen as wrong or foolish, if one is feeling shame.
A definition I like about shame is “guilt is feeling you’ve done something wrong; shame is feeling there is something wrong with you.”
During my week in NYC at a group therapy conference, I wrote notes on my phone, and here are some notes I wrote about shame:
I have no shame about inviting people to let go of shame in my work as a psychotherapist, even if other people believe that shame can help us grow and develop.
Here is another definition of shame I found online …
Here’s the description of this day from the National Days website:
Because my name is constantly misspelled and mispronounced (e.g., “Anne Caplow”), I will take advantage of National Name Yourself Day to try on another name today and maybe a new personality!
I know what I want my first name to be on National Name Yourself Day — Ace. I’ve never had a nickname and I’ve written before that I’d like that one. Why? “Ace” is close enough to “Ann” (starts with “A” and is three letters), it won’t be misspelled, AND it expresses pride in my own abilities (taking a break from any fears of seeming conceited).
For a last name, I’m momentarily stumped. I could choose something like “Writer” or “Blogger” or “Tweeter” or “Therapist” to further brag about myself, but I don’t love those names.
I could convert my real last name “Koplow” (pronounced “Cop-lo”) to something close. As annoyed as I can get with the constant misspellings and mispronunciations, my husband Michael (who might call himself “Mike” today but never “Mickey”) has suggested that I embrace the most common of those: “Kaplow” which is pronounced like a comic book noise (ka-pow!).
I’m ambivalent about that, because I still remember overhearing two female telemarketers years ago laughing hysterically about what they thought was my name.” “Can you believe that this woman’s name is Ka-PLOW?!” they said, before I let them know that I could hear them and they’d lost the sale.
Well, it’s only for one day, so “Ace Ka-plow” it is!
Ace Ka-plow wants to share these images with you on National Name Yourself Day:
Today is also my friend Jeanette’s birthday, whom I cherish and who is no antique, because she’s ten years younger than Ace Ka-plow.
Here’s a song Jeanette and I have heard in concert many times together, performed by a huge name in jazz — Pat Metheny:
How are you going to celebrate National Name Yourself Day?
No matter what our names are today, I’m grateful for all of us, including YOU.
What is wrong with people asking the question, “What is wrong with people?”
What is wrong with hundreds of people answering that question, including me?
Yet when people ask “What is wrong with me?” in therapy, I answer very differently, with “Is that a helpful question?”
What is wrong with people answering the question “What is wrong with me?” with “Nothing!”
What is wrong with people making a distinction between people as a species and individuals? What is wrong with people letting go of shame (the belief that something is wrong with them) in order to heal?
What is wrong with people sharing their images with other people?
I try to compost when I can and feel guilty when I don’t.
Unless somebody hands me a napkin, I often forget to get one.
Something I have in common with my teacher, friend, and comedian’s comedian Ron Lynch is that napkins don’t like to stay in our laps. During a restaurant meal, I often have to reach down with my hand and retrieve an escaped or escaping napkin.
You have to hand it to me: I’m a creative name-dropper (and napkin-dropper).
My hands have now rewritten the title to this post several times …
Day 2537: Everything we hand you
Day 2537: Everything I hand you
Day 2537: Everything I’m handed
Day 2537: Compostable
Day 2537: Hand outs
Day 2537: Everything
… before returning to my original title. As my fiancé Michael says, “First guess, best guess.”
Now you’re going to be handed more images my hand, heart, and mind have chosen.
Sometimes, everything you’re handed can feel like too much. Please keep these thoughts at hand when you’re overwhelmed:
One thousand, four hundred, and forty-four days ago (but who’s counting on all thumbs or all fingers?), I typed — with all thumbs and fingers — a post titled Day 922: Thumbs, which included a discussion of thumb-related phrases including “all thumbs,” “thumbs up,” and “thumbs down.”
Yesterday, I was all thumbs at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, as
I was so focused on removing liquids or semi-liquids that might be more than three ounces from my bag that I forgot to remove my laptop,
security gave me a thumbs down and sent my bag through twice, the second time without zipping it up,
I didn’t noticed that the bag was unzipped,
people told me everything was falling out of my bag after I picked it up, and
I got so flustered I dropped my laptop on my toe.
I’m glad to report that all thumbs and all toes were all okay, even if my dignity got temporarily damaged. After all that happened, I hung around the scene of the crime and said all this to myself:
See! You were trying to avoid feeling shame about doing the wrong thing by taking out those items from your bag, but you missed the obvious one! And what you feared came true: you did the security thing wrong, people got annoyed, strangers noticed your mistakes, things fell out of your bag, you were exposed, you looked like you were all thumbs (and maybe like a crazy old lady), but you know what? It doesn’t matter! You survived and you’re flying home to those you love! Hooray!
It’s time to thumb through all my photos from yesterday, when I was feeling all thumbs (but lots of heart, too). By the way, I thought “thumbs up!” when I was taking one of these pictures. Can you guess which one?
Who gives a crap about where today’s blog title came from?
If you do give a crap, I saw that sign yesterday on the wall of a huge glass-blowing facility called Almost Perfect Glass in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
There’s my almost perfect friend, Deb, who was working the annual holiday glass sale at Almost Perfect Glass, which is the home of NOCA Glass School (where Deb has taken many courses, because she gives a crap about glass blowing). Deb and I give a crap about each other and have since we were in our teens. People say we look and act like sisters, and not just because we both wear the same t-shirt (which I gave her years ago because she gave a crap about what it says).
Who gives a crap about any of my other photos from yesterday?
I give a crap about talent, nature, mindfulness, and all that’s in your head.
While we all give a crap about what’s important to us, it also helps to let go of worry, shame, and other crap filling your brain by saying, “Who gives a crap!”
I don’t feel bad that I’m going to recount something that happened three days ago, for which I have no accompanying photos.
When I took the train to New York on Saturday morning, I felt bad that I couldn’t lift my bag into the overhead compartment. I immediately told myself “Don’t feel bad” and I asked the gentleman sitting next to me if he could help. He was happy to help and I didn’t feel bad about that, although I felt the need to explain that I couldn’t lift my own bag because I had torn my rotator cuff. I feel bad that I still feel the need to offer excuses for myself.
At the next stop, a woman boarded and sat in the seat across the aisle from me. I noticed she didn’t put her bag up in the overhead compartment. She looked like she felt bad about holding on to that bag, but I feel bad whenever I assume or mind read what’s going on with somebody else, so I waited to see what would happen. When the conductor came by, she asked him to put her bag away for her.
I didn’t feel bad initiating this conversation with her:
Me: I can relate. I needed help with that too.
She: I feel bad that I had to ask him.
Me: No! That’s nothing to feel bad about.
She: It’s embarrassing.
Me: Please try to let go of that. I know what I’m talking about. I’m a psychotherapist.
She: I’ll try.
Me: Look, while you’re feeling bad about that, people are doing terrible things that they’re not feeling bad about.
She: That’s true.
Me: Please don’t feel bad.
And because I didn’t want her to feel bad that a stranger was talking to her, I smiled and went back to reading my book.
I don’t feel bad
about that encounter,
that I can’t find my iPhone right now,
that I can’t share any new photos with you because of #2, above, and
about sharing old photos in this post.
Don’t feel bad if you ever have the erroneous thought that nobody loves you. You’re not alone in that thought and thinking it does not make it true.
I don’t feel bad that I feel fine about being on vacation all this week.
Don’t feel bad if you can’t think of anything to say about today’s post. I don’t feel bad asking you to leave a comment anyway.
I don’t feel bad that I can’t share all the gratitude photos I took yesterday, because tomorrow is another day.