Some days ago, I was on the phone with a sales person who attempted to shame me into spending money with her company. Armed with the necessary information she needed, this sales person attempted to create the illusion that my reluctance to spend money with her company would been seen by others in the field as me being too poor to spend money.
Now I don’t know who these “others” are, she was trying to compare me to, but I wasn’t having any of it. I promptly asked her never to call me again.
Her tactic was simple, she attempted to shame me into making a significant financial decision and what’s more sad is that she had probably experienced significant success using this technique with others. For added effect, she even resorted to short burst of giggles during the conversation, while acting like she trying to do me a favor.
Companies frequently resort to this technique in various forms, with the popular form being where they create the perception that most peers of their target consumers are using a particular product or service, then for added measure they slap a hefty price tag on the product or service.
The best way to avoid being scammed by shaming techniques, is to get into the habit of accepting yourself unconditionally. This is simply the practice of seeing yourself as being worthy of love and forgiveness from yourself. Sometimes people tend to confuse the concept of unconditional acceptance, for coming to believe that they should never change from a path of unhealthy thinking and doing and subsequently seeing themselves without flaws. Nothing could be further from the truth, unconditional self acceptance involves the process of coming to accept your strength and your flaws with a willingness to forgive yourself for your flaws and practice the healthy process of change.
It’s true that we are social animals, and that we evolved to survive in small groups, and that the most social of our ancestors did a better job of surviving long enough to pass their genes on. All of this is true but not the complete story. Another element to the story is this, while we are social creatures, we are social creatures who are niche specific. This means that being born into a certain group doesn’t necessary mean you will be destined to remain with the group. People, based on their acquired knowledge and subsequently skills sets, will seek out others who are like minded, regardless of group origins.
My point is this, people who are easily shamed struggle with a sense of self identity and self worth. This leads them to allow for others to easily dictate to them what groups they should belong to, along with a set of norms to abide by. Shame is an illusion, and a manipulative tactic people have used for centuries to influence the behaviors of others. Just the mere idea that someone tries to suggest that you are worthless and unable to provide any benefit to any group is irrational. Irrational because if that were true, you would be completely ignored.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC, a professional counseling and life coaching practice.