Monthly Archives: January 2014

Two Feelings I Don’t Want To Feel: Missing Out and Humiliation

There are two feelings I don’t want to feel, the feeling of missing out and the feeling of humiliation.  I have come to understand that both of these feelings are two sides to the same coin which is shame.  The explanation is a bit circular.  Humiliation is a terrible mental and physical feeling.  It is the feeling of being judged negatively by others and agreeing with them.  It is the feeling of knowing I have no worth and do not deserve respect.  Further, it is the feeling that I deserve to be disrespected because I have no worth.  Because I fear feeling humiliation I am reluctant to try new things, take risks and otherwise “put myself out there.”  So I make safe choices and stay within my comfort zone.  But within this comfort zone I feel like I am missing out.  So I stay within my comfort zone until it becomes stifling and intolerable.  At that point I reach out for any sort of change.  Because the change is new and different and not very well thought out I often fail and when I do I feel humiliated.  When I am humiliated I seek safety which then repeats the cycle.  This cycle is shame.

Generally, shame is the painful feeling that I am not worthy of respect.  This is not merely a mental conclusion but also a physical, bodily sensation.  There are two typical ways I deal with shame: hiding my shame from others and distracting myself from my own shame.   I hide it from others by pretending or acting to be something other than myself.  Implicit in this action is the belief that I am contemptible and if others knew the truth about me they would reject and abandon me.  I distract myself from shame through addiction.  I drink alcohol, I have taken drugs, I bite my fingernails, I masturbate to pornography, I gossip, and I try to make other people feel shame.  All these distractions are a very short-term fix that produces an immediate form of pleasure.  This is the nature of addiction.  The desire for distraction comes from the primitive brain called the limbic system.  The aim of the limbic system is survival via the avoidance of pain and the seeking of pleasure.  This aim creates the addictive desire.  Unfortunately, the modern brain called the prefrontal cortex, kicks in once the limbic system is satiated and goes to sleep.  The prefrontal cortex then makes me feel shame for giving in to my addiction.  The prefrontal cortex, whose aim is to plan for the future and preserve the society that protects me, knows that a society of addicts is no society and will fall apart.  My prefrontal cortex tells me that by giving into addiction I am responsible for the impending downfall of civilization.  I believe this and then I feel ashamed and unworthy of respect.  This feeling is painful and will eventually wake up my limbic system who will then recreate the addictive desire to distract myself from them.

This describes the cycle.  I do not want to feel humiliated so I seek safety.  I then feel stifled and reach out of my comfort zone.  When I do this I feel humiliated.  This cycle of shame is painful.  I hide it from others and I distract myself from it through various addictions.  The solution is difficult but achievable.  It starts with becoming aware of the process and that is the aim of this blogpost.

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Breaking Bad

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Last night I stayed up until 3:30am watching the final episodes of “Breaking Bad”.  AMC had a marathon in honor of the new year and I had just finished as much as Netflix could provide me.  I found it profoundly sad.  I suppose that was the intent.  The show was intended to be a tragedy, I suppose.  As a modern American, I guess I am not used to seeing such entertainment.  I have heard that the ancient Greeks used drama (tragedy included) as a cathartic experience.  However, I emerged from “Breaking Bad” not so much feeling purged as feeling depressed.  Maybe this is the stage I must pass through before feeling purged, I don’t know.  I do know that I also found this series very compelling.  Walter White was honorable but also had a pull to the dark side and an urge to lie to cover it up.  Jesse Pinkman was looking for approval but could never find it from his parents or his surrogate parent Mr. White.  I loved that dynamic.  I identified with Jesse.  Everything was beautifully acted and written.  I came away from it feeling shitty but I am guessing that was the intent.


For me the story is about Jesse.  He was the mediocre child looking for approval.  He felt judged by the world and therefore rejected the world by slacking and taking drugs.  He did finally find that he was capable but still could not shake the feeling that he was “less than.”  He also could not shake the moral judgment of his victimizer (his inner voice).  He felt guilty for what he had done and the effect of his actions on other people, especially children.  In the end, it seemed, he was the one who was liberated from these events.  Perhaps his servitude with the white supremacists in the final episodes was his decent into hell and his payment for his sins.  But perhaps (more importantly) Mr. White’s final embrace where Mr. White was shot protecting Jesse from his auto-machine gun, was his real redemption.  His mentor finally showed him the act of compassion he had been looking for (and needed to make himself complete) all along.  This event occurred despite Walter White’s intention to kill Jesse previously.  That does not matter.  It all came together in the end.  The true intention – the God intention came though in the end.


Bravo “Breaking Bad”!  What a wonderful series you produced.  Although I emerged from watching feeling disturbed and depressed the world is a better, more interesting place because of you.



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