Shame – A toxic Emotion
Shame Therapy and escaping Shame’s Toxic Grip
Shame is an interesting emotion. Shame has a positive and a negative side to it. Shame in it’s useful role helps to remind us of our limitations. For example, we can’t fly off the roof of a building as we would injure ourselves. Shame stops us taking that leap and keeps us safe.
Shame has evolved as an emotion because it provides safety from the perspective of remaining a part of the community we live in. If we obey the community rules we are likely to be able to be accepted in that community and benefit from it. In stone age days if you were kicked out of the community (eg. tribe, village) you would not survive for long. You would lose the the protection of the community. The fear of shame, or being shamed, keeps someone locked into the community culture, ethics and rules of engagement. If you go against the rules of the community you may be shamed and if your transgression is bad enough, you can be kicked out.
For most of us, shame as an emotion, is our life because as a child, youngster and teenager we have been humiliated, embarrassed, belittled and felt powerless. We have had to swallow these attacks on our self-value and worth and because we haven’t been able to defend ourselves, the attack has sunk deeply into sense of self and become shame.
A particularly debilitating version of shame is called “toxic shame”.This is when someone has been belittled, humliated and felt defenceless so much that they have a very deep sense of shame. They view that theu have something wrong with them. They often feel worthless, unworthy, and some even feel like they don’r even exist. Some have said that their deepest negative believe is “I am nothing”.
You can imagine that if youi have toxic shame that it is going to influence your life choices. It is going to limit what you do.It can adversly affect your career choice,relationship and even where you live.
Responses to Toxic Shame
Typical responses and issues that people with toxic shame have are:-
- Addictions – to alcohol, drugs
- Destructive behaviours – affairs, sex compulsions, extreme pornography use
- Self sabotage – undermining the chance of success, or destroying what they have achieved
- Career – going for low paid jobs or nor applyng for promotion
- Personal – neve believing or trusting their partner loves them
- Behaviours- needing to prove themselves all the time
Help to Overcome Shame
When I help people to overcome the strangle-hold of toxic shame we typically do the following :-
- Dig out and expose the deepest shame belief
- analyse its influence on past life decisions (this is a real eye-opener)
- Reduce the impact of the shame associated belief
- Construct positive rules for thriving in any relationship
- Learning how to bring those rules to life
- Feel empowered and gain equality in relationships
- Discovering your needs and your essence to be able to thrive and not just exist
To accomplish this I use a combination of Coaching, Hypnosis, Psychotherapy and Gestalt Therapy.
If you want to find out more just email me, Steve Harold at [email protected] or call 07481 002213