Guiding Light: Shame

-- Swami Brahmavidananda

The issue of shame is a little more problematic than guilt. Guilt is only with respect to what I do. Shame is with respect to what I am, my personality. One can be ashamed of one’s weight, a crooked nose or some feature or that one does not have all the skills necessary for a particular job. We make a self-judgment with respect to our personalities and develop a sense of shame.

This is not healthy for us. It is one thing to recognise that there are some aspects of my personality that have to be taken care of but to be ashamed of the fact that I am overweight, for example especially if there is a medical problem like hypothyroidism or something like that. True. I am carrying a few kilos more than necessary. So for the sake of my health, I can try to knock off those few kilos.

Sometimes we overcompensate by glorifying the unhealthy weight that one has. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, which is true. But that does not mean that one has to unhealthily obese. If you are fat and fit that is fine. But if your obesity leads to medical problems then glorifying it, is overcompensation to my sense of shame. All of us as human beings are imperfect. We have our vulnerabilities and insecurities. One needs to take care of that and not be ashamed of it or glorify it. There is nothing like perfection. I can be good at what I do. That’s all.

Of course and elephant is beautiful if it weighs a couple of tons. Even the great Sumo wrestlers who are fat and fit lose fifty kilos after they retire from the ring for the sake of their health. They are nowhere near their average weight for their height. But they are healthy and that is good enough. They do not glorify it nor are ashamed of it. So, we take care of what we can. Accept the sense of human limitation and get on with your life. There is a lot to be happy for.

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