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I Have Shameful Thoughts When I Get to Work

From Korea: I work programming computers. I used to really love it. I still do when I get into the flow.

The problem is that I have shameful thoughts when I get to work. Right now, no such problem. As soon as I clock-in and start working, I have shame-based thoughts, mostly memories of long-past instances of private (with one other person) embarrassment.

If I get distracted, the memories go away. For example, I stopped working today to look up how Europe might have looked if the Soviet Union had won the European theater in WWII with no help from the USA. For those 15 or so minutes, I had no shameful memories, and I have no shameful memories now. I’m more or less fully concentrating.

I’d like to get to the root of this problem because it’s my livelihood and I think I could do much better if not for these distracting thoughts.

A: There are a number of possible explanations. It could be, for example, that you are having shameful thoughts because you haven’t really forgiven yourself (or asked forgiveness of the other person) about the long ago incident. This may be a bit of unfinished personal business that you do need to resolve.

On the other hand, it could be that the shameful thoughts are serving as a distraction about something even more important. Perhaps you are questioning whether programming really is the career for you. Or maybe you wonder if you are good enough at this job to make it a career. Or maybe you doubt your own abilities but you preserve your self-esteem by telling yourself “If only I didn’t have these thoughts, I would be great at my job”. The thoughts help you avoid dealing with those self-doubts.

Without talking with you, I can’t venture more than those guesses. It may be that none of them are accurate but I did want to give you some ideas to think about.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

from Ask the Therapist


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