In just the last few months I have become intensely interested in why people do what they do, and how we motivate or de-motivate people to do things. Trust me, you think about it all the time when you are wrangling a 3 year old and a 1 year old. These issues touch every single thing we do: the way we work and get others to work for us, the way we raise and teach our children, the way we relate to others in our communities, the way we relate to our spouses, and the way in which we relate to ourselves. Even, I think, the way in which we perceive our relation to God.
How many of you say this to yourselves: “Do NOT pick up that cupcake, fatty!” (My husband has gone farther: he has programmed Siri to call him “You fat son-of-a-bitch” whenever she responds to him. Which takes it to a whole ‘nother level, folks!) How many of you have been the subject of belittling comments in front of other people at work by a superior? (I worked in a theater in which the director would single out one singer at the end of every rehearsal, ask them to stay late, and then tell them what terrible work they were doing and how they were hanging on by a thread to their job. None of us realized he was doing it to all of us until the second week of the run when one of us confessed how stressed he had been until he got an overwhelmingly positive response from the audience. The director thought he was motivating us to be better, when he was really only terrifying us, possibly making our work worse.) How many of you have been told by a parent or have told your children, “I’m ashamed of you?” (My family used to say, as a joke, “Hang your head in shaaaaame!” But I’m sure at one point in the family history, it wasn’t a joke.)
Does shame work? As awful as it feels, is it successful in achieving desired outcomes? And if not, is there another alternative?
Which is all to say that I cannot wait to read the books written by arguably the world’s leading expert on shame, University of Houston researcher and social worker, Dr. Brene Brown, starting with this one.
Curious about my readers out there…. Do you have a shaming experience, either used on you or that you used on another? How did that turn out? Answer in the comments below.