Help me to rank the following statements:
a. ” You should be ashamed of yourself! “
b. ” I’m ashamed of you! “
c. ” Shame on you! “
d. ” I suppose you’re ashamed of yourself. “
They all seem similar, but in reality they’re different platforms altogether. The person who shames another does so for their own purposes and in many cases it does not work.
If you say a direct ” Shame ! ” you may strike the deepest blow, but you do so from the weakest position; that of the judgemental person. If you actually are a judge and can back up your scolding with a jail sentence or a hanging, that’s a different matter – but if you’re just trying to cause unhappiness freehand, you risk sounding ineffective and weak.
A little stronger if you say that someone should be ashamed of themselves – this is not merely a condemnation of one act or attitude, but also of the fact that they have not exhibited remorse for it. A double-yolked rotten egg, as it were.
To say that you are ashamed of someone is also very weak but it is mostly a weak light upon your own virtue. The giveaway clue is the use of the word ” I “. That’s what this one is about.
And to suppose that someone feels shame, or pride, or a full bladder, and then needs to take notice of your supposition is just silly. You can suppose what you like – and you know what to do with suppositories…
It becomes even more fraught when we tell someone that they should be proud of themselves…you can lead people to make some of the worst decisions of their lives by inordinate praise. Just apply it at the right point…