My last blog post was a critique of a post written by a woman calling herself Anchormom. Part of me tried to write my critique in a non judgmental way but that was really impossible. There is part of me that judges her because I expect she would judge me (if she read my blog). I was preemptively judging her so to speak. I feel like I have encountered her type before. She is Admiralbill from Sistertrek. She is Michael Voris. She is that conservative, self-righteous, judgmental, I’m right and you are wrong type that really gets under my skin. (Note: I fully realize that I am basing my condemnation of her on one blog post she wrote and to a lesser extent the smug picture of herself she attached to her blog, and the fact that she calls herself Anchormom. All these facts about her annoy me and I know this has more to do with me than her). I don’t like these types of people because I don’t like being judged. I don’t like being judged because I was judged as a kid and it hurt me and I never really got over it. Now when I am judged (or I perceive that a person might be in a position to judge me as is the case with Anchormom whom I assume will never actually read a word I have written) it stirs up these old hurts within me and I then feel the need to lash out at other people. I do this in a judgmental way. I do this in a passive aggressive way (to allow for deniability).
Still there is another part of me that feels my critique of Anchormom was legitimate. I should not let the petty, ego driven, shame based part of me derail my criticism of her entirely simply because it piggy backed on to the logical points I made and thus derived a sense of satisfaction out of the hurt feelings I imagine Anchormom could potentially have if she ever read my blog post. (Note: so far I think only one person has read the post and I think he is part of the Entitlement Generation Anchormom originally criticized in the blog post I criticized in my last blog post).
So where do we stand here? Anchormom criticizes the Entitlement Generation because she thinks her point of view will somehow reform them or cause other people to agree with her and eventually tip the scales against the Entitlement Generation in favor of the Silent Majority of neo-conservatives. I in turn criticize Anchormom by opining that her real motivation is to shame the Entitlement Generation out of a sense of loyalty to her parents generation who originally shamed her into adopting this conservative outlook. And now I acknowledge that I (or part of me) wrote my critique of Anchormom motivated by a desire to frustrate her and make her feel ashamed just as I was frustrated and made to feel ashamed when I was young. I did this because her condescending tone stirred up these old feelings of inadequacy inside me.
If this does not adequately encapsulate the crazy, insane, overcomplicated, dishonest and exhaustingly self-defeating nature of shame I don’t know what does.
There is a meme floating about the internet condemning the “Entitlement Generation.” An article written by a woman calling herself Anchormom seems to typify the spirit of this opinion. In short, Anchormom argues that the current generation of young adults (I assume this means teen agers to late 20s) lacks the virtue embodied by the “Greatest” generation of World War II warriors / Depression survivors and to a lesser extent the Baby Boom generation that followed. From what I gather, Anchormom is of the Baby Boom generation.
She uses one example of a girl who wore inappropriate clothing to work and then refused to change into something more appropriate when asked to do so by her boss. She uses this girl as an example which presumably in the mind of Anchormom typifies the entire generation.
My first reaction is that I am not convinced this girl represents the entire generation Anchormom describes. Certainly all the young servicemen and women who went off to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan refute her position that this generation is an “entitlement generation.” I don’t argue that no one in this generation is entitled in the way she describes but is that not true of every generation?
Anchormom also describes how her mother hit her with a wooden spoon to discipline her when she was young and seems to be insulted by another person reacting critically to this. The way she reacted to this criticism is telling. Instead of explaining that the criticism took the spoon out of context she exclaims “I honestly had to laugh.” This response (in my opinion) was intended to shame the person who criticized her mother’s disciplinary technique. This suggests to me that behind the spoon her mother used on her was an energy of shame, a shame that Anchormom feels compelled to defend out of a sense of loyalty. This is typical of the shame dynamic.
It depends very much on the energy that was behind the spoon. If the energy was shaming then it doesn’t matter if Anchormom’s brothers are a journalist a doctor and an HR executive (as Anchormom boasts). If the energy was shamming then I suspect they’re probably not living happy lives despite their lofty positions and passing their shame onto others just as Anchormom is trying to do in this article.
The tone of Anchormom’s writing comes off very judgmental and condescending further suggesting the motivation behind her writing is her own shame and the desire to pass on this shame to others to make her feel better about herself. In another paragraph Anchormom comes off defensive, critical and angry where she compiles a list of things her generation “didn’t do” in comparison to her “entitlement” generation. Again, the characteristics of this tone suggest shame is her motivation and are also typical of the shame dynamic.
In defense of Anchormom and her parents, the world was tough during the depression and World War II era. In that generation it was probably justified for parents to use corporal punishment to get their kids in line because the stakes were too high if they didn’t. Survival was at stake. However, survival is no longer at stake in the same way and since that time the cultural pendulum probably has swung too far in the touchy-feely direction. I’m not a fan of political correctness but I’m also not a fan of shaming others as a means of behavior control and a sense of loyalty to shame. The impact on their lives and the lives they will impact in turn is just too negative and miserable. I understand Anchormom’s nostalgia for her youth and an era that seemed better to her in many respects. But I suspect her motivation in writing this article has less to do with her desire to reform this “entitlement generation” and more to with her subconscious desire to pass on the shame that was passed on to her.
I am 44 years old. If you were to ask me my top ten life lessons off the top of my head here is what I would probably come up with:
- Don’t worry about what other people think of you. I spent far too much of my time worrying about this. So much so that I lost sight of myself and what I wanted out of life. I only really came to terms with this fact a few years ago. There is a big part of me that wants to regret this but regret is a facet of my ego and my ego is what convinced me to prioritize other people’s thoughts over my own.
- In terms of a career Do what you enjoy. Don’t do what you don’t like doing. Again, because I worried about what would make me look good in the eyes of others I made choices based on what I thought they would like. As a result I worked a miserable job I hated for eight years only to be laid off and unemployed / underemployed for a few years before I got back on my feet. I am now in the position of reaching for what I enjoy but it feels like I am racing against the clock. Far better to figure this one out in your twenties or earlier if possible.
- Avoid debt. I wish I was better about this early on as well. Any debt you take on is lost opportunity. It is better to have compound interest working for you with investments than against you with debt.
- If you never felt like you pleased your parents in childhood it probably will never happen when you are an adult. As such, stop trying and free up that energy for your passions. It might actually improve your relationship with your parents.
- Don’t associate with people who make you feel bad about yourself. You can recognize them if you pay attention to your feelings. Trust that your feelings are real, there for a reason and never wrong.
- Loyalty is earned. For so long I felt I needed to be loyal to things and people who had no loyalty to me. As such the rewards I thought this loyalty would bring if I just hung in there long enough never materialized until I was able to let go of this obligation.
- You are entitled to happiness. Everyone is. If you are unhappy there is a reason for it and it probably is not because you are bad, wrong or otherwise defective.
- Don’t judge other people. People who judge other people judge themselves equally as harshly. They do this because they were judged harshly and when they judge others harshly the people they judge will judge others and continue to spread the virus.
- Shame is toxic. Shame is the source and result of judgment. It is also the origin of misplaced loyalty and probably debt.
- Religion and politics are voluntary. Because no one can know what’s on the other side you should not and probably cannot force you beliefs or values on others. Nor should you judge another person harshly for believing something contrary to what you believe. If you find yourself doing this perhaps you should ask yourself what am I ashamed of? Who judged me harshly when they should have had compassion for me?