'Wonuola Akintola
2 min readMar 30, 2023

Who Named You Shame?

Differentiating your emotion from your identity.

We reflected on the different factors that determine the many ‘labels’ we have. A significant one, we all agreed, was our names. We had no choice when we were given, we were not as aware of our world then as we are now. As adults, we could decide to change our names, if desired.

A friend recalled how shortly after she had adopted a new name in her twenties, she had not respondedwhen called by the new name.

The reason may seem obvious — she was not yet used to it.

Why had it been easy to respond to the old name? It wasn’t a name she had chosen. She wasn’t aware of it when she had been “labelled”. Being referred to consistently by a name, results in wearing it as our badge.

Emotions like names may be changed. It involves seeing the justification of the new name, and embracing the thought of a new name with the power of choice. It’s like deciding to buy a new top, if an old one is deemed unbefitting. We exercise choice in many ways, including thought processes which impacts emotions.

Who named you shame?

An event does not go as planned — it doesn’t have to become my identity. Life may bring fierce storms my way- an aggressive challenge need not transform me to an angry man.

What are you repeatedly saying to yourself?

Life experiences may stir different emotions, positive or negative. Like signals we then decide what choice to make. Healthy choices pave way to healthier living. Unhealthy choices triggers the process for and deteriorating health, physically and mentally.

Awareness helps to consistently embrace healthier emotions, like a new name. My friend recalled that moment of forgetting her “name”, to be a call to alertness to respond to her chosen new identity, which most of us know her as. I can’t remember her old name, even though she mentioned it in the discussion.

What names are you responding to?

The choices we persistently make result in the image we portray: an angry man, easily led, people pleaser, free spirit …It’s the name we respond to in our hearts, eg. shame, failure, sensible, loved, respected.

This influences how others therefore relate to us. The cycle then continues with responses centred around an emotion not appropriately managed.

Relationships are consequently impacted, for better or for worse by our choices.

Managing emotions matter

'Wonuola Akintola

Emotion Focused Mental Health Speaker, Writer & Trainer | Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist | Freedom Advocate