Can’t Seem To Get Over Shame

I posted on the 13th about looking forward to going to my book club meeting.  It was a good and lively meeting, and I enjoyed it.  Until I was driving home, that is.  Then I began to feel as though I had talked too much, tried to get too much attention, not really listened to people but just jumped in with my own opinions.  Had I been silly, thoughtless, insensitive?  I felt ashamed of myself and wished I could apologize, but then that really would be calling too much attention to myself.  And, although the feeling of shame was strong and painful, I realized that it’s part of a pattern I’ve had to deal with for many years.  Probably no one noticed anything wrong about my behaviour.  It’s all in my head. And I seem to forget between times that this is how I will react.

I don’t know how that feeling got lodged there.  All I can remember is that when I was a little kid, definitely before the age of ten, I would be going home in the car with my parents after an evening spent with relatives or friends, and my mother would mention something I had said or done that was inappropriate.  I don’t remember this as being particularly harrowing for me, but I think it is connected to my present problem.  I was an only child and was aware that my parents expected good behaviour in front of other adults, especially relatives.  Of course I wanted to please my parents, and also I very much didn’t want to look foolish.  I was a bookish kid and had aspirations of being cultured and well-educated.  So I guess I was pretty sensitive about this going-home review of my behaviour.  But that’s all I can connect with my problem of feeling ashamed.

This reaction to interacting with people who are not family has been happening for years, and I don’t know how to stop it. I can settle down after a few hours and convince myself that nothing happened that I need feel ashamed of, and that’s good. But I really wish the reaction would not happen. Is it because I’m an introvert and not all that comfortable in groups? I’d really be interested to hear if anyone else has this problem. Any light shed on it would be welcome.


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1 Response to Can’t Seem To Get Over Shame

  1. monica says:

    I often have this same conversation with myself. I frequently experience this anxiety over my behavior after a particularly enjoyable gathering. I cannot say for certain when this first started to occur-though I have recollections of this happening when I was a young child. Like you, I wonder if it has roots in my extreme shyness. To overcome this shyness I constantly pushed myself into situations that required me to act confidently. I became a teacher, a flight attendant, a “professional” volunteer in many varied organizations. I now work as a substitute teacher meeting new people, young and old, everyday. I successfully fool those around me into believing that I am outgoing and extroverted. But this takes a lot out of me. After being “on”, I need a lot of downtime to reenergize because the truth is that I am introverted and hermit-like. I wonder if this anxiety is from the unease I feel around groups of people. I also wonder if it is more than this. All my life I’ve struggled with balancing humility and pride. I wish I could be carefree and not concern myself so much with how I look to others. I wonder – is this anxiety really just the guilt I feel for having had too much pride in myself on ocassions when I feel especially carefree, fully present in the moment, and right at home in my own skin? Thanks for blogging about this – as you’ve prompted me to look at this issue again – this time with prayer. God bless.

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