The Western Condition Can Be Complicated
I was talking with a good friend of mine who was raised in a mostly unknown country in West Africa. The country is Burkina Faso. We were talking about the western condition. About self-esteem, ego, blame, shame, and how these issues are so prevalent in the western world. Sobonfu began to talk. ”It took me eight years of living in the West to understand the feeling of shame.” I was shocked at this. Even more, I was amazed at her level of disappointment. Understanding the feeling of shame was painful.
The Western Condition Fueled By Blame and Shame
She continued she began to explain how people in the village she was raised in never shamed the children. They look at each action as an expression of the child’s personality and character traits. If there was a behavior that was not socially acceptable, the children are simply instructed to conduct themselves in a way that supports the core values of the village. There is no value in shaming them as a bad girl or bad boy. She continued to explain how these labels are so destructive to the psyche of a person, especially a vulnerable child. She went on to say that positive instruction helps to modify behavior. You must teach children to be more socially acceptable so that these children can be welcomed into the village. And adhere to simple and acceptable protocols.
This blew me away. It is completely alien to me to think that a parent would positively and kindly correct a child for the good of the community.
In my own experience, I was raised in a family that was filled with judgment and fueled by blame and shame.
Other Culprits Of The Western Condition
Blame and shame influence your self-esteem considerably. It is so interesting to experience the children in the West African village who were encouraged to just be themselves. If something happened, it wasn’t about blaming someone for a particular incident it was about finding a solution for the situation so that a positive and helpful resolution could be achieved.
Some of the things we will deal with in this book and associated workshops are:
- The influence of the ego
Let’s take a moment and define these terms:
Self-esteem is confidence in one’s own worth or abilities. Also thought of as self-respect. In psychology, the term self- esteem is used to describe a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. In other words, how much you appreciate and like yourself. Self-esteem is often seen as a personality trait, which means that it tends to be stable and enduring.
The ego is a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.
Your ego is your conscious mind, the part of your identity that you consider to be your ”self.” If you say someone has a big ego, then you are saying that they are too full of themselves. Of all the traits we work within this book and workshop, the ego is probably the most misunderstood and most unfairly judged aspect of our psyche.
Blame is assigning responsibility for a fault or wrong.
The problem with the blame is we often put the blame where it does not belong. Consequently, assigning fault to someone who is not at fault. This can be very damaging to the psyche and the self-esteem of an individual or group.
Shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. Self-induced shame can be helpful when one becomes conscious of unhelpful or inappropriate behavior. However, when shame is applied from the community or an outside source, it can be humiliating and damaging to the well-being of the one being shamed. As with blame, oftentimes we shame someone by applying our own core values and behavioral standards to them, which may not be accurate of applicable from their perspective.
A self-deprecating person knows his or her own weakness or shortcomings and isn’t afraid to point them out, often in a humorous way. When being self-deprecating goes too far, it can become self-loathing and self-sabotaging, which are less amusing forms of putting yourself down. I find that most people that come to me with self-esteem issues are often self-deprecating in a very destructive way.
Those of us brought up in the western culture deal with the above issues on a daily basis. Often, the awareness of blame, shame and judgment are fundamental influences that determine the way we behave, the way we think, the way we talk, and a way that we process the world around us.
The Last Word
Another thing I’d like to address about self-esteem, ego, blame, shame, and self-deprecation is, I believe the influence and effect these things have on your life have been learned behaviors and programmed into your psyche since you were born. Modern psychology will tell us, these issues will take years and years and thousands of hours of therapy to clear. Most of all, by using the techniques and processes in this book, and by attending this workshop, your life will be transformed more quickly than you can ever imagine. I also know the influence of the training you have received from your family, social influences, religious affiliation, and whatever are not necessarily good influences towards positive self-esteem! There is a better way.
For more information and to buy your copy of the new book go to TobyChristensen.com