Have you ever felt ashamed of doing or wanting to do something that the society deemed improper? Shaming has become a huge problem in our society and if this trend continues, it can wreak havoc on our future generations.
Read on as Anna Chandy shares with us some gems of thoughts to reckon.
On the 10th of December, I got the opportunity to meet Mrs. Anna Chandy, a woman of sharp intellect and grace. She came to Hyderabad to speak about Shame and how a family and society can make or break a child. Her talk was superbly touching and worth every second.
A woman who fought it all
Anna Chandy is a woman of pure charisma and strength. She is the face of designing strategic interventions to support organizational development and enabling powerful personal change.
In her newly launched book “Battles in the mind’, she talks about her painful childhood story and her later resurrection as an empowered self. Her life story is just enough to touch millions of hearts.
Skilled in mind and body healing, certified neuro-linguistic programming, and art therapy, she is the first Transactional Analyst in India and runs an advanced personal development coaching.
She has been in counseling mental health victims for more than 20 years now. Mrs. Chandy is also the chairperson of the Live Love Laugh Foundation which is Deepika Padukone’s brainchild NGO project.
I am going to share some of the best highlights that she spoke about shame and the ways our family and society can help eliminate mental disorders from the root.
“It has taken 22 years of therapy every week to have the courage to stand in front of all of you.”- Anna Chandy
Her childhood was marred by horror, fear, and abuse. Being the youngest born in a typical Syrian- Christian family, she became the poor victim of family conflicts and rage. Her voice was never heard nor respected. And, soon she retaliated to her own cocoon of self-doubt, anxiety, and negativity.
In her own words– “For the first 35 years, my life was a sealed bottle- full of secrecy, silence, and guilt.”
Who would have known that she was broke inside although she tried looking perfectly normal and social all the time?
Never being happy is the worst punishment you can possibly gift to yourself.
Soon at the age of 35, she decided to go for counseling and thus began her journey as a counselor. It was not easy for her to shake all the inhibitions that she had neatly packed inside her heart.
Through the course of her counseling days, her sadness and grief gradually transformed into immense gratitude and courage. She became liberated from her past self and ultimately saw the light of happiness and joy.
Being Honest with yourself is the key to happiness.
What caught my attention the most was her principle of sharing bad experiences- Sharing the traumatic incidents of life can help a person move on. That is what it did to her, and I was utterly thrilled and intrigued by the idea.
Shame and Support
So, what is shame?
Shame is that part of our feeling which we experience when family or society chides us for our authentic self. The moment you start pondering what the community will think about your action, understand- it is your shame calling.
Mrs. Chandy explains it to be close-knit with social factors. According to her, shame originates from family. Yes, family. And, Family is the first shame marker in a child’s heart.
Shame begins at home.
We as humans are social beings. We tend to do what others do. Whenever someone tries to do something different, we tend to demotivate them by “Shaming” them.
Anna Chandy marked out some examples of such shaming.
Have you ever found someone humiliating a boy child by shaming them for crying?
This same boy when grows up will have irrational beliefs about manhood like men don’t cry. Such stereotypical thoughts and notions constantly brainwash a child for their worse. Parents and relatives unintentionally plant seeds of doubt and self-loathing in their brains from a very early age.
Shame stems from the thoughts, feelings and the behaviours that the society instills in us since childhood. Such is the power of a society that it molds the brain with illogical lies, brainwashing and restructuring our thought process and belief system.
Elements of Shame
There are 2 elements in shame that one experiences-
- “I am not good enough.”
- “Who do you think you are?”
We must be mindful of our shame speaking so that we can eliminate them once and for all. However, decimating shame is a complicated process as its root starts growing since the childhood days.
A whole family or group tries to bring a member within the folds of the group’s norms and rules by humiliating and insulting him.
It is not life-threatening to anyone. But, if we keep on mistreating a child then psychologically it is going to affect his/her personal life, career, and relationships. In a gist, it is going to destroy the child’s wellbeing and happiness forever. So, we must be extra careful about our behaviors and words spoken when in front of a child.
Effects of Shame and Difficult Childhood
Brene Brown on her research has found that mental health illnesses like anxiety, violence, depression, drug abuse or other personality disorders are closely associated with a traumatic childhood experience.
In fact, we may also notice shaming on large platforms. You must have seen trolling on social media.
It is one way of shaming an individual for his statements or deeds on social media sites. Every human being is different and unique- that is what we are taught. Then why not accept the unique qualities of a person and allow them to take action that suits them?
Role of Community in Shame Building
The feeling of shame is different for different roles of people in a family. A mother’s experience of shame is very different from her daughter’s or her husband’s. It may even vary among the religion, caste, creed and even profession.
Shame brings mental health problems and illnesses. Like all illnesses, mental health issues also have prior cognitive and physical symptoms.
Physical symptoms include heaviness in chest, reddening of ears, cheeks, and nose, crouching shoulders, poor-eye contact, nausea, etc. Cognitive symptoms involve abusing or blaming oneself for an incident or action. The victims should be made to understand that personalizing everything is not the solution. So, we have to overcome the issue by separating ourselves from it.
The biggest conundrum of this health problem is that nobody wants to speak about it, feeling ‘ashamed’ being one of the top reasons.
Mrs. Chandy also talks about the association of shaming process with ‘community gaslighting.’ It is a way of brainwashing individuals within the community such that any new way of thinking is crippled and their judgment and perception are muddled. The society as a whole starts labeling and the victim gets further victimized.
The Solution to Shaming
According to Mrs. Anna Chandy, the first safe place for a child is their family for both psychological and physical needs. They need to feel protected so that they can share their feelings and vulnerabilities.
If the family wants to hide their problem, it becomes tough to address and treat the mental disorder. The earlier the problem is diagnosed, the quicker a victim can be recovered.
We as a family and society need to stop labeling children as good or bad, as intelligent or dumb, as beautiful or ugly. We need to stop that now. A child may not say so, but he/she feels hurt. Such feelings are ingrained in their subconscious mind forever. And, later on, it takes a lot of effort to shed that negativity away.
Psychological group norms and labeling needs to stop. India, being a fairly young country, needs their healthy youth for achieving new milestones for the country’s economy and growth. So, being mentally healthy is just as significant as physical health.
However, Indian Government allocated only 0.01% of the total health budget this year which is very shocking and sad.
The people need to come forward with their mental health ailments first. Only then, we can take proper care. Also, the family and society must behave responsibly in front of any children and allow them to be their true self.
Hoping the situations to improve in future, let us be more honest and genuine to ourselves and the society to break the mental chains once and for all.