Shame

Background: My oldest son made a mistake and I corrected him for it. But after correction I kept harping on the situation, and he made a comment that indicated he had been made to feel shame. I went to him the next day and apologized. How can I foster confidence in him if I shame him?

The funny part about this is that not too much longer after this situation, I was made to feel shame. But instead of feeling down on myself like my son did, I felt angry at the other person because there were other circumstances that led to my results, and if that person knew that, they would not have made comments that were meant to cause shame. Synonyms of this word are humiliate, embarrass, or mortify! Correction is needed in order for a person to learn from an experience, but causing embarrassment about it or humiliating a person can cause resentment and low self esteem. Oh, how apologetic I was when I realized what I had done. This particular son already needs lots of encouragement and reinforcement in that area and here I am tearing it all down!

This situation happened with my son, but now that I realize my wrongdoing, I can think of countless situations that I have done this same thing to others in my life. Wow. People always make a big deal about the visible sins we commit in life, but this one is like a cancer that you impose on other people. It works on the inside for an unspecified amount of time and invades other healthy areas until outward manifestations of decay begin to show. In many cases, cancer requires powerful, ill-causing treatments to recover, if recovery is even possible. Even though you aren’t the one experiencing the decay, in the end you will pay a price for your words, just like your victim has suffered from your shame filled words.

In the new testament of the Bible, there is a scripture (Romans 8:1) that refers to condemnation. It says we no longer are subject to the bombardment of shame that is associated with sin because of Christ. So if Christ has freed us from this, how can we subject others to it. The P31 spin on this is v26, ‘When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness’. So where I messed up was I did not give instruction with kindness. When other people foul up, it angers you because you know they can do better or it negatively impacts you. So naturally you voice your frustrations along with instruction, sometimes more heavily on the frustration side. And if you consistently give instruction this way, it’ll be difficult to realize the damage you are inflicting on another person.

Someone might read this and say, “You need to be able to take constructive criticism.” I am in total agreeance with that. You learn and make yourself better from constructive criticism. It brings to light a mistake or area that needs improvement and offers solutions….without degradation. And v26 is essentially stating that P31s give constructive criticism.

I am glad that my tendency to correct with shame vs kindness was exposed. I can’t afford to break down the confidence of my child or cause others to resent me because my words cause shame. Especially in the case of my son where I work overtime to increase his confidence. Somewhere else in Proverbs (14:1) it says, ‘A wise woman builds her house, while a foolish woman tears hers down by her own efforts.’ Let’s not be that chick.

References: Proverbs 31:26, Romans 8:1, Proverbs 14:1

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