shame on you for shaming

I have heard of three examples of shaming now in cohousing. I realized that I am not against cohousing but just want to warn people of the pitfalls and hazards of groups. This would be one. Watch out if you have a culture of shame.

Of course I didn’t realize shaming until it happened to me. The finger wagging – how dare you? I honestly would have signed up for the stocks and stood in them as long as everyone liked, just to get the shame over with the knowledge that it’d be over eventually. But the shaming felt so big that no one would ever forgive me. Of course most did and the few that never could are now moving out which still shocks me. I thought by putting all the communities’ tension and blame on me and me leaving would solve the problems. I’m shocked it didn’t. But honestly, I don’t understand why they left if what I did was so terrible and wrong and I left.  Things are always more complicated than they seem.

The other example was someone who felt peer pressure to go to the yearly retreat. They couldn’t for other reasons, which only one person inquired about. The rest was shame on you for not being a good community member and not going to the retreat.  They were a bit spooked by the cult-like vibe.

This weekend I heard of other cohousers who felt shamed for not going to common meals. Of course they are part of the glue of many cohousing communities. The more the stronger the community the theory goes. However, people can’t make it for many reasons.  This community made it clear that the expectation was you attend if not – you will be shamed!  Meals can be tough just by the fact that they are meals and people have many restrictions now on what they can eat.  Timing and ability to cook or attend.   I also thought they were always voluntary and most communities only have half the people attending regularly anyways.

I like to think of the opposite. If people aren’t going to the common meal, find out why.  Is it too noisy for some?  Need to switch up the times on different days? Maybe add a breakfast? That was one of the most attended meals for us – on a lazy weekend morning.  Or maybe add happy hours or other community building get togetherness. The one thing I miss is our fire pits and impromptu gatherings around the fire.

So one community is already focusing on building a culture where empathy and compassion are first priority. No shame.  I am tempted to sign up. That’s the type of place where I’d like to live!

About CJ

I was a Spanish teacher for 5 years in the Public School system in 3 different states. I homeschooled and taught at a democratic free school. I heard about cohousing in 2010 and wanted to move in right away. I met a group building one in 2018 and got to move in the summer of 2019. It only took a year to want out.
This entry was posted in bad behavior and bullies of any age, group think and cults, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to shame on you for shaming

  1. Flower says:

    While the title of this TED Talk is called How one tweet can ruin your life | Jon Ronson it is about shaming in a different context. I find it very interesting and you may too:

  2. CJ says:

    I read his book – So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed a few years ago and then again this year. It is amazing and important points. It does make me wonder of what makes us humans tick and why we act like sharks at the first smell of blood.

    • Flower says:

      I haven’t read his book, although I’ve read many others about the topic of shame. John Bradshaw wrote many books which I’ve read. One was called Healing the Shame that Binds You and Bradshaw On: The Family: A New Way of Creating Solid Self-Esteem Paperback. They are usually listed under “Recovery” sections. It was in the second book where I’d first heard of the term poisonous pedagogy and that family dysfunction is intergenerational. So if your father wasn’t an alcoholic, but his father was that was/is part of the family system, since behaviors are modeled by the mother and father. There are plenty of authors who have expounded on shame, one is Joseph Burgo who writes about narcissism as well as shame. I linked to his website on another comment. He has also authored several books. There are many.

      When people hear recovery they assume it’s about addiction and he does write about that as well, but it’s not limited to that topic. The other day I read a comment on a blog where someone wrote that “addiction wasn’t understood” in our society. That’s so untrue. There’s a ton of information out there about the subject and psychology and that info has been out for a long time. I didn’t respond because I wasn’t a regular subscriber to the blog and I didn’t feel they would listen anyway.

  3. Flower says:

    What I liked about the Bradshaw book about the family as a system was that he examines the dynamics in dysfunctional families. Dysfunctional families include alcoholism, physical and emotional abuse, co-dependency, divorce, absent fathers or mothers and the emotional neglect that comes from that type of parenting. These families may have problems with enmeshment, guilt, control, shame, blame, scapegoating, family secrets, continuous fighting or no fighting because “wrong” emotions are forbidden and a host of other issues. He highlights the fact that dysfunctional families often have dysfunctional kids, who then seek out, find, and marry other dysfunctional people (since they act in a familiar, though dysfunctional, way). In this way, certain family problems such as alcoholism, violence, and so on can be handed down across generations, which is referred to as inter-generational. Because of this, one should examine one’s problems in the context of one’s family, and always look for the “problem behind the problem” (i.e. ask what drives one to drink? Rather than just address alcoholism as an addiction). Most people lack this type of awareness. They may be aware that there is alcoholism in the family and other issues, but lack the insight to recognize when they are repeating those same patterns. Often they think they are not when they are repeating the same behaviors.

    I’ve found so many of these books helpful in understanding what motivates people and it’s helpful in group situations as well, although I tend to avoid those given the problems that I associate with them and what you describe.

  4. CJ says:

    Narcissism and shame. Interesting. So the way our society uses shamming says a lot about us!

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