Season 3 opened with “Mama”,played by my favorite character Luis Guzman, introducing himself to the first-year residents, per tradition. They include Diego Avila (Scream‘s Tyler Perez), whose wealthy father pulled strings to get him the position, and Pepper Russo (Nashville‘s Chaley Rose), who has the worst first day ever. While Diego is busy filming everything for his documentary about Angels Memorial, Pepper — who puked during an earlier trauma — accidentally inhales fentanyl and passes out. As Leanne and the other doctors work to save her life, we learn that Pepper had throat cancer as a child. Things look pretty dicey when Pepper stops breathing, but she eventually comes through. Meanwhile, her fellow first-year almost kills a patient when he gives him medicine to which he’s allergic.
It was Code Black at its finest. The constant thread the entire episode was forgiveness. Without giving away too much of the episode’s key story line, you will learn a valued lesson that most of adults forget. Resident Elliot makes a tragic mistake that promises to wreck havoc, but reveals a major lesson.
Shame and guilt can feel very similar—with both experiences we feel bad about ourselves. But guilt can be understood as feeling disappointed in oneself for violating an important internal value or code of behavior. Feeling guilty can be a healthy thing: it can open doors leading to positive behavior change. With shame one can also feel a disappointment in one self but no value has been violated.
I believe that self-forgiveness is the most powerful step you can take to rid yourself of debilitating shame. Elliott will have to learn that. Forgiving yourself for the ways you have hurt or harmed others will probably be the hardest thing that you will ever have to do in order to heal your shame.
When we are able to develop the courage to admit when we are wrong and to work past our fears and resistance to apologizing we develop a deep sense of respect in ourselves.