Our Shame And Guilt Stop Us From Questioning Society


Let’s keep on with this monster of a blog series, shall we?

If you’ve not done so yet, you can read:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Today we’re going to dive deeper into how shame and guilt keep us trapped in our culture, and how this powerful self protective mechanism is being used as a weapon against us, to keep us participating in a system that isn’t actually good for us.

This is big stuff to look at, but it’s deeply important.


Shame And Guilt Protect Us From Questioning Society

When we have pain, when we feel ourselves being rejected, when we feel ourselves venturing OUTSIDE of the bound of our conditioning, when trying to live up to society and expectation doesn’t feel good to us, when we ‘fail’ to be what those around us conditioned us to be and when we have needs we’re not totally aware of and thus don’t know how to meet most of us are going to go into guilt and shame.

We’re not going to investigate into WHY we think we have to be what we think we have to be.

We’re not going to question society.

We’re likely not going to look for what our actual NEED or WANT is.

We’re not going to try to assess WHY we’re in pain in terms of what’s happening to/around us.

Rather, we’re going to assume there’s something wrong with us, that we’re failing, that we’re not doing the right things - and we’re going to go into our, often repetitive cycles, of trying to ‘fix’ the scapegoat part of ourselves we’re so used to scapegoating, and we’re going to feel like we’re ‘doing something’ while we work to fix that part - when in reality we’re just obfuscating the real source of the pain - living a life that doesn’t actually work in real reality. 

Our shame and guilt stories then become the REASON we never think to question society/culture/our conditioning.

We’re instead programmed that whenever we feel pain, whenever we feel like we’re failing to live up to expectation, whenever we feel like we’re not getting our needs met (even when this is subconscious/unconscious) our immediate response is to blame, shame or guilt ourselves. Our immediate response is to assume that we are doing something wrong - and that we must change our behavior in order to feel better.

This again is that childhood view of the world - where the only thing we had control over was our behavior, and it really ‘looked’ to us like everything was happening to us, because of us. The temporary codependent nature of our early childhoods gave us the base program that pain comes from being rejected/misunderstood and that approval = safety, provision and pleasure. Thus we believe deep down that the way to have all the pleasure we want or to avoid the pain we don’t want, is to fit in better.

This means that when we have pain, again, we are going to assume there’s something wrong with us. Most of us have one area of our lives - one thing about us that we ‘blame’ every time we feel not good enough/pain/suffering - and this is our ‘scapegoat’ part. This is the part of us that we continually blame for our pain, point to as the reason why we can’t be happy, and that we try to ‘fix’ constantly. This could be an aspect of our personality, our bodies, our relationship status, our job, an addiction - anything we can say ‘this is the reason I’m not happy and if I could just fix THIS thing about myself, everything would be better.’ The other reaction we will have is to go into a state of defense when we’re hurting - immediately pointing out how our pain isn’t OUR fault, how it’s the fault of someone else and how others need to change to make things better for us - as a way of trying to shrug off our guilt and shame.

We believe that we are somehow a ‘bad person’ and that THIS is why we are suffering. We scapegoat that part of ourselves that is either natural to us but get’s us rejected, is an adaptation and the WAY we are surviving trying to fit in or is some other part of self that actually needs to be understood so it can be properly supported rather than being rejected.

But again, these shame and guilt stories are SO deep, they come up so reflexively and they are woven into our CULTURE as TRUE - so much so that we don’t even consider that they could be questioned, or that they are STORIES and not ultimate TRUTHS.

This shame and guilt blocks us from ever questioning our perceptions, our cultural conditioning and therefore, the system.

We keep trying to fit in, believing deep down that this is the solution to all of our pain - no matter how painful it is to do what we need to do to try to fit in.

Because questioning the system, questioning the culture we’ve been trained to accept as ‘right’ for our entire lives, questioning ANY ASPECT of what we were programmed all through our formative years that we MUST fit into to be SAFE - is an existential crisis waiting to happen. It feels deeply threatening. It feels like we’re going to curse ourselves to a life of perpetual suffering - because if we’re not ‘good’ - then what? If we never change, never become what culture wants us to become, never transcend these broken and bad parts of self - we feel like we will never be safe or ok. Getting past the shame and guilt so that we can actually question WHY these parts of self were rejected, WHY certain things are expected, WHY we value certain ways of being over others - it’s INCREDIBLY challenging - because it means coming face to face with our SURVIVAL INSTINCT that tells us that fitting in is the BEST way forward, and that not fitting in is a surefire way to walk off the plank of life.

We get sucked into spirals of shame and guilt - and in this we’re never able to actually question the society we live in, to question the conditioning, to question the programing and to realize what’s actually beneficial and what isn’t - because we’re too busy trying to fix/change/modify OURSELVES that we have no time to even question if what we’re trying to fit into is actually good or not.

We have such deep programming around the need to fit in to be safe, that again, to actually question society and our place within it usually brings up SO much fear, that we can’t even see what we should be questioning - the fear drives us back into shame and guilt, we are convinced our pain is due to our failure, and we try to become better instead of looking to dismantle the systems that are actually NOT working for the PEOPLE.

We’re convinced from day one that society has it figured out - and thus if you’re in pain it’s because you’re not living up to expectation - and this is the basis of the fear and self loathing most of us live with, and it’s the basis for how we continue to participate in and perpetuate systems that actually cause us harm - not seeing that we’re fighting FOR things that are actually harmful to US.

This is a huge key that most of us never see, and it’s something that shapes our entire self perception in ways that can dramatically affect how we live our day to day lives, and the experience we have living those lives.

Our Culture Feeds On This Insecurity

It powers itself and keeps itself GOING based on this deep insecurity.

Our culture perpetuates itself via the avenue that we are all so conditioned to blame and shame ourselves when we’re in pain and that we believe that fitting in is the answer - it uses these base programs as a tool to scare us into conforming with systems that are to our detriment.

The idea that if we are outcasted we’re going to be doomed - this is how culture keeps us locked in.  It reinforces it over and over again by SELLING us this narrative on a day to day basis. 

Culture continually changes trends which always have us feeling like we’re behind, not living up, not measuring up and need to be chasing. 

It continually presents an unattainable image of what ‘good’ is so that we ALWAYS feel insecure. 

It continually celebrates this idea of ultra individualism which is actually impossible in real reality, thus making all of us feel like we’re never doing/being/achieving enough - without ever showing how much exploitation and using of people is required for most ‘individualists’ to achieve what they do.

The solution to the pain we experience in our system is always MORE of the system.

Because we have this deep subconscious association with pain = being rejected = needing to fit in more - this is the lens we use to view the world.

Then culture reflects this back to us, telling us it’s true. If we just tried harder, fixed ourselves, got the right job, the right relationship, the right body, if we just practiced the right spirituality, if we have the right attitude and mindset - then in this we will FINALLY have that approval we want, which will OF COURSE lead to happiness.

Most of us aren’t thinking these thoughts directly - but when we investigate into why we’re doing what we are again, we almost always come up with ‘I’m trying to fit in better so that I will feel better.’

Our capitalist culture RUNS on the idea that if we’re hurting, suffering, not getting the results we want in life or otherwise aren’t happy - that the solution is to fix ourselves. 

To buy something. 

To become something more productive. 

To change our bodies. 

To change our personalities. 

To transform ourselves in some way that will be more pleasing to the system. 

Our economy runs on this constant manufactured discontent - this message that suffering is a self inflicted wound at all times, and that it’s our lack of capacity to measure up that causes it - so even when the cause of our suffering is systematic inequality, lack of opportunity, the fact that our economy is a pyramid scheme, the fact that there are little to no safety-nets in our society and the fact that we’ve been groomed to boil our lives down to nothing more than what we consume and produce - we still feel like it’s our fault.

We are, for the most part, blind to all the ways the system is crushing people in order to support those at the top in their continual quest for more, because we’re too busy trying to fix, change or modify ourselves so that we will fit into our culture of consumption and production better.

We’re too busy trying to amass for ourselves because we CONSTANTLY feel like life is insecure, we don’t have enough, it could all be taken away and like no matter what we achieve we only find that we now have a new ‘base line’ from which we have to build to look up for a second and ask ourselves;

‘Who is all of this serving?’

We’re taught that to be one who can ‘produce’ something that’s of ‘value’ by society, and thus that makes you lots of money and earns you lots of fame/approval IS the ultimate success. 

We’re taught that anyone who isn’t doing something that earns them this income/approval is failing at life at their own hand. 

We’re conditioned to value certain life over others purely based on how well that life contributes to the system. 

We’re taught to shame, blame and FEAR those who struggle in our society. To see them as weak, less than, not trying, broken and something we must avoid becoming at all costs.

We’re taught to see those at the top of the ladder as examples of goodness and success.

This is all totally backwards.

Those At The Top Are Causing The Most Harm

In reality MOST of the time the people who occupy the top positions in our society are the most selfish, the most destructive and the most unimportant in terms of ACTUALLY providing something of true BENEFIT to society. We’re trained to idolize monetary success and fame - and in this we are totally distracted from the actual problems of our system and from what ACTUALLY creates a good, healthy, happy life.

We’ve been deeply indoctrinated to see the luxuries and privileges of wealth as something to strive for - but in real reality, those that are successful in our system have the most access to entertainment, food, activities, social circles and job positions that ALL actually cause THEM harm - just as it causes harm to the rest of society. 

The production of the food, entertainment, luxuries and experiences we’re all taught to strive for to be happy, as well as the ways in which we produce power, distribute food, grow our food, build our homes, move ourselves around and so on - ALL of these things are systems that are OWNED by those who occupy the top tiers of our society.

They have a vested interest in us sticking to how things currently ARE, and they have a vested interest in us continually striving to attain what they produce.

At the same time, the WAY all of these things are manufactured/distributed is incredibly harmful.

MOST of what we rely on for everyday living, and what we consume in terms of excess and luxury, is produced via worker exploitation. Paying the laborers LESS for their time and effort than they actually ADD to the overall value of the company. Which means *most* of us who work are CONSTANTLY feeling the strain of being overworked, underpaid, put into terrible conditions and feeling like no matter how hard we try we can’t make ends meet - and that’s for a reason. We’re disempowered - and that keeps us locked in and dependent upon the system for survival.

Then when we do have enough, again, we’re constantly pitched that it’s NOT enough because there can never BE an enough in our system - because enough would then cut into the profits of the owners - and that can’t happen.

Then, the items are either priced in a ridiculous way OR are subsidized by the government so as to hide the actual cost of production - and in this we have a false idea of how much things ACTUALLY cost to produce and distribute - and thus how much they are actually WORTH in terms of the quality they provide to our lives.

That’s how those who occupy the top tiers of society get rich.

They own the means of production, they exploit their workers, they exploit the earth, they artificially manufacture prices, then they manipulate the public into believing that the way things are is the BEST way, and they use that continual fear of not enough/not fitting in to SELL us things we don’t need and to charge us ridiculous prices for the things we do need.

Then with all that money, they are able to lobby government and other policy makers into keeping society set up in a way that continually profits them at the expense of everyone else.

We don’t see it, because it’s just the way it is.

We don’t see it because we’re so busy trying to look after ourselves in our system of exploitation and fear that we don’t have time to question things.

We don’t see it because we’re so busy trying to ‘fit in’ and ‘be good’ that we’re not able to question why good is good and what fitting in actually costs us.

If we’re honest with ourselves, the lifestyles of the rich may include some health promoting things like the ability to afford healthy food, to live in clean and safe environments, to exercise, to get adequate rest (sometimes), to pursue activities for interest or pleasure - but in real reality those of us in the middle and top of society rarely get to actually BENEFIT from these things - because we’re so stressed out from having to do what we have to do to BE in the middle/at the top - that all we have energy for afterwards is stimulating, numbing and other superficial pleasures that only serve to degrade us further.

In order to participate in the system without drowning in your own sense of anxiety, depression, lack of connection, lack of humanity and having to disconnect from the realities of the exploitation we are requiring to be where we are, most of us have to turn to leisure activities, purchases, food and other ways of being that numb the pain of the system for us. That harm us more than they help us.

Trying to make it in the system inherently means we’re going to be hurting, and that hurting will be used as a tool to drive us DEEPER into the system to try to find relief.

Round and round it goes.

All so those at the top can continue to profit off of the pain of everyone holding THEM up.


Let’s take one more break, and come back next week for our final section!


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