For two years now, Aline, a 30-something graduate student in Ohio, has diligently — desperately, even — protected herself against the coronavirus. Vaccinated and boosted, she took a test last week ahead of holiday travel to Atlanta. She was stunned when it came back positive. …
“I feel very embarrassed and dumb,” she says, and upset that she’s causing her family stress. “It’s eye-opening that I feel so much shame from it. I’m realizing how much judgment I was secretly harboring against people who got it before.”
The headline seems to misstate why Aline feels shame! It’s not shame over getting the disease despite following the rules. It’s shame for having been so judgmental toward other people.
Here’s how I imagine her mindset. I’m not claiming accuracy, just sketching out a possible thought pattern: Because she trusted in the precautions she devotedly took, she developed the idea that those who got the disease must not have done their part to avoid it. They were the disgusting others — the deplorables. Looking down on those people was part of believing in the worth of her efforts and the safety she was acquiring for herself, but now that she’s one of the people she used to find disgusting, her options are to find herself disgusting or to realize she was wrong when she thought they were disgusting.
There’s shame involved either way. Shame over being ill or shame over having thought ill of her fellow human beings. …
What about feeling shame for the way you thought about other people who were ill? Maybe you should feel ashamed!
There’s no advice in the article about that kind of shame, which Aline says she feels. I’ll just say: Practice compassion toward others. You can start before you get the disease.