Shame is Everywhere and You Can Do Something About It
Shame manifests silently in our daily habits, actions and thoughts…until it doesn’t. Then it manifests ugly!
When a shame-bound person acts inappropriately often enough, people are going to get hurt, and not least of all, the shame-bound person themselves.
“I had no idea I was so fucked up until everyone left”, I wrote in an article in Medium
“Then, later, I realised I wasn’t that fucked up after all — in fact, most people are, and I was just a little extreme. Typical”!
The cycle is so prevalent and insidious that most people will only recognise the problem when difficulties are so acute that help is needed.
If you can imagine — if one or both parents in a family are not emotionally fit and therefore completely able, to provide the emotional needs of the kids, a situation arises.
All other members of this family then need to adjust to the ‘inadequacy’ or ‘dis-ease’ of Mum or Dad.
John Bradshaw likens this to a mobile. When you tug at one character the others move immediately.
Lifelong habits of behaviour begin this way and the trouble is just beginning.
The ‘problem parent’, unless aided by intervention, will always act problematically, therefore everyone learns their own adaptive behaviour. It becomes normal.
Due to the unbalanced ‘normalcy’ that everyone has adapted to, each member of the family will later seek a partner to fit into the framework that has become the norm.
For instance, the ‘Peacekeeper’ in the family will seek out a partner for whom she can make peace. She is then ably employed to suit her particular skills and attitudes. The troublemaker has his perfect suitor.
One dysfunctional person seeking out and finding another dysfunctional person, with whom to raise children the best way they know how.
Are you scared yet?
However, if Mum and Dad have a perfect relationship and therefore convey to the child all the appropriate love and care that the vulnerable little tyke needs then all’s well.
This is rarely the case, if ever.
John Bradshaw was a recovering alcoholic and Psychologist working in Rehabilitation when he wrote his best selling tome, ‘Healing The Shame That Binds You’.
“Shame is internalised when one is abandoned. Abandonment is the precise term to describe how one loses one’s authentic self and ceases to exist psychologically”.
He goes on to explain…
“Mirroring is done by one’s primary caregivers, and is crucial in the first five years of life.
Abandonment includes the loss of mirroring. Parents who are shut down emotionally (all shame-based parents) cannot mirror and affirm their children’s emotions”.
Bradshaw says that in the extreme cases, “To be shamed-bound means that whenever you feel any feeling, need or drive, you immediately feel ashamed.
The child is dependent on their needs, both physically and emotionally, and when they are let down or denied, they feel abandonment.
As this shame-based behaviour is so difficult to see if you’re in it, generations will be effected until the shame chain is broken.
In the modern, fast-paced society, it’s plain to see that this shame can go unnoticed. Addiction of all sorts and violence ensue.
Brene Brown is another who has made great inroads to publicising this pervasive cancer.
Watch a YouTube of her 2012 “Listening to Shame” broadcast…9 million views and still going strong.
None of us had perfect parents, and some had too little or too much privilege.
Secrecy, silence and judgement will keep us sick.
Now is the time to get on with the adult part of our life by realising we are not perfect by design.
Reading Brene’s book, ‘Daring Greatly’ or doing her courses are highly recommended.
The healing of shame by exposing it, talking about it and being vulnerable is a journey that has considerable benefits.
The emotional well being of our children and freedom from the bondage of self among them.