Share, the antidote to Shame

Share, the antidote to Shame

What I love about my job is the amount of training I can go on. Training lets me learn new things, develop new tools, listen to experiences, and of course, network with other professionals.

Since I have the attention span of a carrot, it’s rare to find a speaker who can grasp my attention for a full ten minutes – and I’m so glad this guy did.

“What letter do I need to change in the word ‘Shame’, which would make shame go away?”

Our speaker asked…

People started scratching their heads, throwing out answers (which did not involve actually changing a letter, but I guess it was quite late on a Tuesday afternoon … and after so many workshops, we were all too tired).

“Change the ‘m'”, I mumbled to myself, “change ‘m’ to ‘r’ and you get ‘share'”. Again, it was too late on a Tuesday afternoon for me to feel like engaging.

Finally, ,someone said it, they replied that the way to deal with shame is to speak about it. Our speaker was elated, replying that yes, sharing is how we can help clients deal with their issues of shame.

But isnt’t that counterproductive? If I have shame to speak about something, how can I possibly share it?

 

Well, that’s the trick in reality. We give power to certain things… and they really don’t deserve to have this power. Let me explain.

If I shame regarding an aspect of myself – such as my gender or sexual orientation (ie. something I have no control over, and cannot change). If I don’t talk about it, my shame gets worse. I will feel that if people knew, they would judge me (after all, isn’t this the reason for shame? feeling judged and unwanted for something?).

And what happens when we hide such fundamental parts of our personality, for fear of judgement? We end up hiding other things – things we like or enjoy, because we feel that our loved ones will ‘figure it out’.

But what happens when I do talk about it? When I feel so safe with someone, so close and intimate with them, that I can tell them about my genuine self?

Well, when the person acts so loving about what I have shared, so non-judgementally, then that is when my shame will go away. I will realise that I was being ignorant for assuming that my loved ones would hate me, and that it was something to be ashamed about.

 

So what is the antidote to shame? SHARE!

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Why We Need More Willas

Why We Need More Willas

We definitely need more Willa’s in the world. For those who don’t know, Willa is a trans* activist in Malta. And she’s seven (if I’m not mistaken) years old.

 

WHAAAAAT?

 

Yeah. She’s 7, and she’s making change on our little island.

Willa is an out trans girl, and she fought her school to allow her to wear the girls’ uniform, and not the boys’. She won.

She then realised that there are other trans* children – and she wanted to help them too. And so she was part of the group which pushed forward the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics act, a law that not only gives trans* and intersex people freedom to be themselves, but has also placed Malta as the leading country in LGBTQ+ legislation.

 

So now Willa has written a picture book for children, explaining her journey. Her aim is for parents to read it and understand trans children more, and for trans children to realise that they are really not alone in their feelings.

 

But on our little island, we are so used to the idea that children being passive and without opinions, that when a child outright defy this description, we freak out. But in reality, children DO have opinions, and they are far from passive…if given the space to express themselves.

 

So people were complaining that Willa is being abused of since she is in the Media. These same people fail to realise that by sharing and commenting on Willa’s articles in the press, she is even more in the limelight. Secondly, she is in the media because she wants to be. I’ve seen her speak at conferences and at debates – she loves it and she wants to do it. Speaking to the media is not going to ruin her childhood. With that logic, there shouldn’t be any child actors. At least Willa is trying to spread a message.

 

But apart from all this, we need more Willa’s because children like Willa are activists – and when they grow up, they’ll become even bigger activists. And this world needs more activists – people who will fight to make the world a better place.

 

And why does it have to be children, then? Because children, too have a voice. Because we say that we care about the best interests of the child, but do we really try to ask children for their own opinions about their lives? About what benefits them?

 

Usually, when a child feels that they are of another gender, and try to express the gender they feel inside, they will be silenced. Willa shows parents that it is OK to let your child express their gender in their own way. And if you’re worried that your child may be wrong, then that’s OK too. Because you know what’s going to happen if Willa later on feels as though she’s actually a boy? Well, absolutely nothing. But at least she’ll trust her parents enough to be honest with them.

To Convert or Not To Convert

To Convert or Not To Convert

Conversion therapy is an act of attempting to change something about someone – generally through aversion therapy. So think electroshock therapy and fear. The general consensus amongst mental health professionals is that conversion therapy, particularly gay conversion therapy is inhumane and does not work.

Unfortunately, things take a while to reach this island. And even though our mental health professionals and associations have explicitly stated that they are against gay conversion therapy – our dear religious institution (ie. Church of Malta/Curia) has stated that it is in FAVOUR of gay conversion therapy, and that the proposed bill which would make it illegal has “serious ethical and legal issues”.

I have many issues with the Church’s position paper, but I’ll stick to my main ones.

1. The Church submitting a policy paper on an issue which is not religious is frankly ridiculous.

2. Comparing paedophiles with homosexuals is ignorant at best. Paedophiles have been found to be interested in children, regardless of their gender. So no, they’re not homosexuals, or heterosexuals for that matter. They are attracted to children for the sake of them being children.

3. The idea that homosexuals are superior to heterosexuals is completely flawed. There are laws stating that you cannot fire someone from their employment because they’re gay for the simple reason that no one in history has ever been fired for being straight. That shows that gay people are not superior to straight people – quite the opposite in fact.

4. The Church states that the law discriminates against straight people because it does not protect them from being pushed into conversion therapy to make them gay. Here I ask ANYONE who was pressured or forced to be gay to please message me with your story. Frankly, at least to my knowledge, no one has ever been kicked out of their home for being straight, or ostracised, or forced into conversion therapy.

This position paper shows the sheer homophobia still present within Malta’s religious institution, where they cannot even be in favour of a bill which would protect innocent people from therapies designed at making them hate themselves.