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The Positive Side of Shame

Effective shaming

Shaming can give the weak greater power. It can be used as a tool to encourage structural changes of institutions, organizations, and powerful individuals by exposing a transgressor to public disapproval.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The Positive Side of Shame

The Positive Side of Shame

https://fs.blog/2020/01/positive-side-of-shame/

fs.blog

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Key Ideas

Shame

Shame is a universal experience. Shame enforces adherence to beneficial social norms.

Shaming is a tool and can be used for good or evil. We should use it when the outcome has a greater benefit for society, and when formal means of punishment have been exhausted. Shaming should ultimately lead to reform and reintegration and act as a deterrent against bad behavior.

Guilt vs shame

Guilt is a private feeling of regret about something you did, and the discomfort leads to self-regulation regardless of exposure.

Shaming is about the possibility of being exposed to an audience.

Shaming must be relevant

The audience responsible for the shaming should be concerned with the transgression. The audience should be the victim. For instance, second-hand smoke impacts the health of non-smokers.

Unfairness should be significant

There should be a big gap between the desired and actual behavior. The smaller the gap, the less effective the shaming will be. The degree of bad relative to the group matters. 

For instance, the worse the level of pollution for a corporation is, the more people will shame it.

Formal punishment should be missing

Shaming is most effective when the only possible avenue for punishment would otherwise go ignored. This triggers our sense of fury at injustice.

If a nation commits major human rights abuses, it is difficult for another nation to use the law to punish them. Exposing and drawing attention to the violations may shame the nation into stopping.

Subject to the same social norms

The transgressor should be sensitive and sympathetic to the source of shaming.

Shaming an organic grocery store for selling unethically produced meat would be far more effective than shaming a fast-food chain for the same thing.

Trusted sources

The audience should trust the source of the shaming. The shaming should come from a reputable, trustworthy, non-hypocritical source, otherwise, the impact will be minimal.

Shaming used sparingly

Shaming should be directed where possible benefits are greatest. We all have a limited amount of interest in shaming. It should be used only for the most severe transgressions; otherwise, people will become desensitized, and shaming will lose its effectiveness.

Shaming with diligence

The threat of shaming can be more useful than the act itself to reform behavior. It may be helpful to implement regularly. For instance, an annual report on the companies guilty of the most pollution works better than a once-off.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Shame Affects Our Mental Health
Shame Affects Our Mental Health

Shame is that uncomfortable sensation we feel in our stomach when we realize our irrationality and cannot run away from the judging eye of other people. It usually happens when we ...

Women And Children Feel Shame More Intensely
  • Women and adolescents are quick to feel the negative effects of shame, and dive into low self-esteem and depression at a much faster rate than men.
  • Young people have a stronger ‘pull’ towards any kind of emotion, including shame, which is the reason for them being susceptible to severe depression.
  • The propensity of shame decreases as we grow older, but elders again start to feel ashamed just as a young person, as they get self-conscious of their actions, appearance and bodily decline.
Shame And Guilt
  • Guilt is related to shame but is easier to rectify, as we focus our attention on the other person and apologize, accepting responsibility.
  • Shame is an inward emotion that makes us view our entire self in a bad light, with us getting punished by our conscience.
  • Guilt is actually a positive emotion, showing our empathy and encouraging us to reverse the harm that we may have done.
Our reasons for lying

Where lying is concerned, we just can't seem to help ourselves. 

We lie for two reasons: behavioral conditioning and cognitive evolutionary biology.

Behavioral conditioning

Lying keeps us hooked because we enjoy the reward. The outcomes are unpredictable.
Lying is reinforced every time we get away with it. 

Cognitive evolutionary biology

Lying is a valuable tool in our survival kit. We can spare someone's feelings or build social standing. Lying can keep us out of trouble or even save our lives.

Practicing deception starts as early as six months of age such as fake crying or laughter. But people only start to get good at it after another four years where they learn to let go of the unbelievable lies and settle for what kind of lies work. 

Helping a loved one
Helping a loved one

Many people try to help a loved one make significant life changes but fail. They may try to help a spouse quit smoking or get a roommate out of an abusive relationship. They may feel that if they d...

Different forms of enabling behavior

Enabling may accidentally happen when you are trying to help, but after an extended period, you realise that you are really helping.

  • Cleaning up after someone is one form of enabling behavior and includes any way of protecting the person from the negative consequences of their own behavior.
  • A partner lies to his in-laws about his wife's drug problem to protect her from embarrassment.
  • A sibling pays his brother's rent because he regularly loses his money to gambling.

It might be okay if it happened once, but if these "rescues" happen repeatedly, they don't get to learn from the cause-and-effect pattern of their behaviors.

Giving someone non-specific help
  • Our loved ones often come to us in a moment of crisis. They're losing their job or need to pay someone back. We sometimes feel we have to give money or bail them out in some form. But after a time or two, you become the consistent rescuer while they continue in their unaccountable ways.
  • Boundaries can be used to stop the cycle, but not letting those boundaries slip is hard. If you put your foot down on not loaning money, don't give in. The person you're trying to help will ultimately feel more secure if they know you keep your word. You're also a good role model for consistent behavior.

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