Shame is a feeling that I think no one tends to enjoy (obviously). It often follows something one does that was motivated by an intense desire. This desire itself being fuelled by a need to feel some sort of pleasure, happiness, or general improvement from how one has been feeling; even if it is just to not feel bad or in pain anymore (be that physical or mental). We gravitate towards an escape, or a distraction, to take our minds off of our suffering; to give us a moment to forget that we are hurting.
These escapes may offer momentary relief and give us a break from our worries for a little while, but within a certain amount of time, the hurt can and will always return. Depending on the methods of escape, this can lead to an increased level of pain when the initial feelings of pleasure wear off due to the knowledge that what one has done in order to escape was not itself something beneficial.
Whether this escape is drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling or any other vice, we are feeding into a negative feedback loop. We gravitate towards such things because they offer a short moment of bliss, but this only increases the negative feelings when the bliss wears off and so motivates us to return to it in order to try and feel that bliss once again. If this process is repeated enough times and if one is caught up in the escape and does not self reflect, then one might find themselves trapped in the cycle; feeling dependent on their return to the vice to offer fleeting moments of relief.
Now what I am going to suggest as a method of escape from such a cycle is something that the body naturally resists, because for a time it will instil a heightening of the pain that one is likely trying to escape. When you feel a sense of shame overcoming you, like a blanket of darkness that suffocates any available light source, do not flee it! Do not flee the pain! Instead, I want you to sit in private and submit to the feelings of shame that your body is trying to force upon you, and which you keep trying to neglect or escape.
Remember, pain is a mechanism which is meant to motivate the body to move away from harm! That is, to cause distance between the body and the thing harming it! When one confuses this process and sees the pain as the thing that is meant to be escaped, then you have already misunderstood the mechanism, and don’t allow it to fulfil its function.
When the feeling of shame arises, think about why you might be ashamed in the first place. Is it because the thing you are engaging in is preventing you from being productive, or hindering/damaging you in one way or another? Is it that if your family or friends knew what you were doing, you know they would be disappointed in you? Most importantly, what about Allah (swt)? Isn’t He As-Sami (The All-Seeing)? You may be able to hide it from your family, but you can not hide it from Him. Nor can you hide the fact that you neglect your shame and try to escape it.
If you give yourself a minute, and allow the shame to consume you, let the ache in your heart settle, and really make the effort to feel the shame rather than run away from it, then maybe you will give yourself the fuel you need to give up the shameful deed altogether. Maybe shame is the mechanism for recovery, and our wilful neglect of such things or our unwillingness to feel bad about something for even a minute, is itself the first obstacle getting in the way of our ability to overcome the vice in the first place.
If you let it consume you, maybe you can allow yourself to go through the motions of thought required to motivate you sufficiently to give it up. Maybe allowing the feeling to evolve and settle as it should do, patiently with the remembrance of Allah (swt) and sincerely seeking his forgiveness and guidance, will itself offer you a lasting memory which will arise at any moment you have thoughts of repeating the shameful; therefore sapping out any possibility of achieving a moment of bliss from committing such acts again.
Maybe, God willing, this mechanism, and your ability to avoid a shameful deed will be a new source of bliss for you! Having the will power to leave something bad behind, and being able to reflect on how you have made improvements in the right direction, is a great source of joy for those who were able to allow themselves to go through the motions and take the necessary steps towards the straight path!
May Allah forgive our sins, those we do knowingly and unknowingly, and may He guide us towards Him, and give us the strength required to overcome our trials! Ameen.