On being shameless

Have you noticed how the whole shameful-shameless equation makes no sense? A shameless person, by definition, is without any shame. Now, shameless may not be a swearword, but as far as I know, it is definitely not a compliment. Oddly, nor is the concept of shame.

By that logic, if shame is an undesirable, shouldn’t shameless be the opposite?

The word shame is many times alternatively used for docile or polite, which are accepted virtues in young boys and girls of all ages. Asserting oneself therefore automatically turns into something undesirable. Generations are brought up with bloated and misdirected ideas about what constitutes politeness. It is perhaps for this reason that salespeople everywhere are despised, insulted and generally taken to be of an untrustworthy nature. Any sales pitch goes against the grain of what we have been taught about being polite.

To boot, everyone has ideas about what is shameful and what is shameless. At least from a social point of view, one cannot be ashamed all by himself. Shame is usually dependent on social ties. When the feeling is triggered by supposedly socially unacceptable behaviour, it brings forth opinions from all concerned (and unconcerned) as to how the person in question should be ashamed and what manner of apology to the world in general would be most appropriate.

I often feel these social ties are very vampire-like in nature. It is as if people feed off each other’s shame to feel better about themselves. Everyone wants to turn the world into themselves.

Something a public figure did, offended me, so I demand an apology. Better yet, I demand that she apologise to the whole world.

Curiously, asserting yourself is acceptable if you are doing it for a living. Take for example a marketing executive promoting a product for his company. It is what he gets paid for and thus he is pardonable. If however, the same man promoted his small side-business to people he knew, he would quickly be labeled shameless.

Fortunately, when shame of this sort comes, it can easily be warded off. Nothing complicated; just refuse to be shamed. Shame, even when valid, takes up useful time and delays progress on issues. It is best to concentrate on solutions than to dwell on social repercussions. Neither personal, nor social shame solves problems. There are faster and easier ways of purging your soul. Start with correcting mistakes. If its too late for that, make a mental note to avoid the mistake again and file it away for later use.

And the next time some one yells at you, “You should be ashamed of yourself!” politely request for a break. It is okay to be unashamed.

#ashamed, #being-assertive, #shame, #shameless