One of the major shaming aspects of our culture is singlism. Singles are stereotyped as incomplete – there is something seriously wrong with us. We are not good enough – otherwise we’d be coupled. I have uncovered a lot of that in myself. I am calling that internalized singlism: My sense that I am not good enough because I am single. “I am not good enough” is one of the predominant shame messages. It goes to our core. It does not question behavior (say, the choice to stay single). It questions us. I’ve been struggling with this for a bit, somewhat longing for the approval that would come from an intimate relationship that involves sex – and then being disappointed when it turns out that the guys around me are too young, not interested, or otherwise not available. It wasn’t until today that I realized that I am struggling with a double whammy of shame. There is the shame from the internalized singlism. But then there also is the shame that comes from the longing as a singles advocate. I shouldn’t feel this way! After all I am fighting singlism! I should have it all together and be above the culturally approved strategy for meeting our needs for closeness, companionship, and acceptance: A partner! There must be something wrong with me that I still am not immune to that! And what will people think if I admit to it? Well, they will probably think that I am human – and that I, too, am a product of the couple-centric culture we all live in. I, too, sometimes long for the quick-fix of an intimate relationship involving sex – even though I know that this is absolutely not the only strategy for getting my needs met – and not even my preferred strategy! I’d rather spend my time and energy on deepening my network of friends. It’s much more resilient not to put all our eggs in one basket. Yet, there it is: The internalized singlism.
One of the ways we can grow shame resilience is by practicing self-compassion. We can do that by listening to a guided meditation or by simply repeating these sentences, which I am taking from that meditation:
May I be safe.
May I be peaceful.
May I be kind to myself.
May I accept myself as I am and my life as it is.
Doing this meditation (despite my somewhat skeptical stance toward meditation) has helped move me a little bit toward accepting the various strands (or manifestations) of shame in myself. One step toward building shame resilience…