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Shame, guilt, embarrassment and fear....

These are emotions that we usually have little control over but sadly they disable learning and the ability to have confidence in changing our situation. They keep us trapped, immobilised and at the mercy of others that may wish to control or harm us in some way. Social media is now a powerful format to control others via shame, guilt, fear and embarrassment. You get told what you 'should' and 'shouldn't' think, do, value etc by people you have not even met never mind be able to form a balanced opinion of them by actually knowing them and validating their knowledge of the topic at hand.


Some definitions below may help:


SHAME: What exactly is shame?

Shame is defined as a self-conscious emotion arising from the sense that something is fundamentally wrong about oneself. With shame, we often feel inadequate and full of self-doubt, yet these experiences may be outside of our conscious awareness. That makes shame hard to identify and label.


Is shame an emotion or feeling?

Shame is considered broadly as an emotion that involves self-reflection and evaluation (Tangney, 2003). In defining shame, it is important to disentangle it from its sister-emotion, guilt.


The feeling of shame can be described as a sense of smallness, worthlessness, and powerlessness in a given situation. It is triggered by a “perceived” break in one's connectedness to others or to oneself. This is compounded by feeling exposed and extremely concerned about another's evaluation of oneself.


What happens to the brain in shame? When faced with shame, the brain reacts as if it were facing physical danger, and activates the sympathetic nervous system generating the flight/fight/freeze response. The flight response triggers the feeling of needing to disappear, and children who have this response will try to become invisible


What triggers embarrassment? Embarrassment can be personal, caused by unwanted attention to private matters or personal flaws or mishaps or shyness. Some causes of embarrassment stem from personal actions, such as being caught in a lie or in making a mistake.


Is being embarrassed OK?

Experiencing embarrassment is normal, says David. “It is the price we pay for being messy, imperfect, normal humans,” she says. “A key part of moving on from embarrassment is to practice self-compassion and self-forgiveness.


Self-conscious emotion:

Embarrassment is what's known as a self-conscious emotion. While basic emotions such as anger, surprise or fear tend to happen automatically, without much cognitive processing, the self-conscious emotions, including shame, guilt and pride, are more complex.

Symptoms of guilt


People who feel guilty may experience anxiety, stress, sadness, feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem, regret, loneliness, or critical self-talk.

What is manipulative guilt? If you're upset, someone who is manipulating you may try to make you feel guilty for your feelings. They may accuse you of being unreasonable or not being adequately invested. For example: “If you really loved me, you'd never question me.”


Unless another person was harmed, guilt is typically a wasted and useless emotion. People can also be made to feel guilty by others for not doing something the other person wanted. Guilt is about blaming oneself for something that happened in the past, whether an hour before, months, or years before.


What is fear in psychology? Fear is an intensely unpleasant emotion in response to perceiving or recognizing a danger or threat. Fear causes physiological changes that may produce behavioral reactions such as mounting an aggressive response or fleeing the threat.


Summary. Fear can be healthy. It is programmed into your nervous system, and gives you the survival instincts you need to keep yourself safe from danger. Fear is unhealthy when it makes you more cautious than you really need to be to stay safe, and when it prevents you from doing things you would otherwise enjoy


Can fear control your life?

For people in recovery, fear can have a major impact on one's life. Sometimes, without even noticing, fear can be a significant factor in decision-making or even be controlling one's life altogether. Fear affects happiness and can cause people to make decisions that they wouldn't otherwise make.


Living in a constant state of fear can cause gastrointestinal issues, including ulcers and Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It can increase your risk of cardiovascular damage. And fear has been associated with decreased fertility, depression, fatigue, and accelerated ageing.


Why does fear control me?

The emotional panic that accompanies fear actually shuts down the prefrontal cortex, or the rational thinking part, of our brains. In other words, when we are consumed by fear, we stop thinking. A populace that stops thinking for itself is a populace that is easily led, easily manipulated and easily controlled.


So after reading all of those...do you want to be shamed, guilted or embarrassed in regards to your dogs behaviour and in how you choose to manage it? What training tools or techniques you may choose to use to overcome behavioural issues? How you choose to physically manage your dog via pens, crating, muzzling, containment systems etc?

If you are legitimate in wanting to have better outcomes for your dog's welfare as well as your own then you will have to follow your own moral compass. An educated trainer can give you advice and pathways but you as the dog's owner will need to be the one comfortable enough to apply the learning.


Social media is full of the 'perfect' people, 'perfect dogs' and 'perfect lives'. Often just a fantasy land of lies and mis information that sadly create guilt, shame, embarrassment and even fear. Sometimes it is real people that you know that are inflicting their own opinions onto you.


The words 'cruel','abuse', 'pain', 'harm', 'fear', etc will be dropped into the conversation to limit your ability to see the situation and solutions clearly. These words are used to bring on feelings of shame and guilt and are frequently thrown around - with no scientific backing - to bring on the controlling response they wanted.


Maybe it is the history of the dog you now own that is keeping you locked into a guilt complex.

Some Animal Rescues will manipulate you via empathy and guilt to take an unsuitable dog and then you are trapped with behavioural issues in the home that are putting you all at risk.

The thought of prior trauma and abuse will keep you locked into allowing rubbish behaviours through misplaced guilt. Did you abuse the dog? or was it some faceless person? Who should be feeling that they lack in some way here??


All of this manipulation disables us from moving forward and creating a better life for our dogs. if there was real trauma then why would you want to keep the dog in that fear/trauma cycle? Would it not be better to move forward to a much happier life?? I cannot fathom that a person deliberately guilting or shaming another does it from genuine kindness or compassion, rather that it is done for the end goal of control and coercion.

A petty person will make themselves feel better by making others feel worse.


So in summary, lose the guilt! Don't take on another's act of abuse as your own crime. If you have felt shame then enable yourself with a better skillset to avoid that feeling again. If you have cocked up and felt embarrassed then own that and just try to do better next time. If you feel fear then ask for help to work through it until it fades.

None of us are perfect, the concept that we can be is a ridiculous premise that just leads to feeling inadequate.


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