I heard an interview with a screenwriter who admitted his primary tool for productivity was shame. To lock himself into a daily framework that would make him feel guilty for wasting time.
Often times, quite literally. Adam said he frequently did his best writing in hotel rooms. And his thinking was, if I’m paying for a room, just to be in it to a write, and I’m blowing it off to play video games, that’s really pathetic. Because essentially he’s just wasted his time and money when he should have been working.
And so, those feelings have positive implications for his productivity. They make him feel bad about his behavior, not about himself, and the guilt and shame and embarrassment create the necessary friction to motivate choice and change.
Perhaps shame isn’t to be resisted, but reinvested.
Jung famously called shame a soul eating emotion, and that may be true, but there’s no reason to back away from shame as a useful strategy for making things happen.
Richter’s research on the positive workplace aspects of negative emotions found that that managers and employees can help channel workplace shame into creativity, if the situation is handled skillfully and sensitively. Turns out, ashamed employees are more likely to engage in creative activity as a way to restore their positive self image.
They can convert seemingly negative energy into novel and useful ideas.
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How might you develop a healthier, more productive relationship with shame?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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