shame & self-sabotage (1)


In his BRILLIANT book “Healing the Shame that Binds You”, John Bradshaw discusses what he calls “toxic shame” - instilled in our hearts as children, unable to move on with an authentic self intact. We had to find a way to survive, and we did – is the good news, but there is still some healing that needs to be lived through. Multi-generational patterns of dysfunctional, confusing, hurtful, and damaging behaviors victimize each child and the child grows up feeling broken and inferior to others and as a consequence of unmet childhood needs “incomplete and insatiable”.

Here’s John Bradshaw’s list of “The Dysfunctional Family Rules” (abbreviated):

1) CONTROL or Chaos – try to suppress fear – try to ensure safety - try to ensure the absence of chaos - control is the major strategy for shame – i.e. one must be in control of all interactions, feelings, and behavior at all times.

2) PERFECTIONISM or Anomie – always be right in everything you do. No one EVER measures up; based on lack of guidance in childhood (see definition of anomie below).

3) BLAME – as defensive cover-up for SHAME – when control has broken down with undesirable result – try to project own shame onto others – person is convinced that the other person is at fault - insists on it

4) DENIAL OF THE 5 FREEDOMS (Virginia Satir about basic human power) – you shouldn’t perceive, think, feel, desire, or imagine the way you do.

5) THE ‘NO TALK’ RULE – don’t speak of what you really feel, need, or want – i.e. “if you got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything”. “I’m fine” when dying inside.

6) THE ‘NO LISTEN’ RULE – “can’t hear you, too busy trying to defend myself.”

7) DON’T MAKE MISTAKES – don’t show vulnerable self – it WILL be used against you. Always guarded.

8) UNRELIABILITY – don’t trust anyone – parents didn’t get their own needs met and will NOT be available to meet their children’s needs. Fear.

9) DON’T TRUST – a life of continuous fear without basic trust in self or others.

Shame about who we are appears to be at the root of all addictions – where we try to escape awareness of ourselves. In the process we create life-damaging consequences and add them onto gut-wrenching pain and explosive emotional states (i.e. anger)… and more shame. Shame also causes neurotic, borderline, and co-dependency consequences, which tend to take over the personality over time, causing painful maneuvers in our endeavors to get a break from suffering.

The neurotic obsesses over his own shame and guilt. The narcissist and borderline personality disowns his/her shame, envy, and rage and blames it on others. For addicts it can get more jumbled, confusing, and overwhelming.

This is why the spiritual path is so intensely soothing - with its insistence that we are lovable children of God who deserve a second chance, no matter what.

Greek: a = without; nomos = law; lawlessness, absence of guidelines for conduct
Instability in society: caused by abandonment of moral and social codes
Social alienation: a feeling of disorientation and alienation from society caused by the perceived absence of a supporting social or moral framework
Disregard of Divine law
Absence of accepted social standards
Mismatch between individual circumstances and larger social mores
Absence of a free horizon of expectation
Absence of mutual dependence
Individual feels not needed !
collective social disorder greatly relevant

see also: 1897 Durkheim studies of suicide and Wikipedia

SHAME & SELF-SABOTAGE - notes - 1st group

Shame is about who you are
while guilt is about what you have done (or haven't done, but should have.
Depression and anxiety are intertwined.
What is shame-based thinking?

Ideas about epitaphs:
She tried to be perfect and failed
She was just not a sunny girl
She was a smart girl with a nasty stupid streak
She was a total flake
She didn’t do her paperwork on time
She was trying to be smaller, quieter, and smiling

we try to be perfect at all times – or else we self-flagellate
our behavior is designed to manipulate others
we are under the illusion that WE know what is right and the other person is just wrong

Contributions identifying shame-based internal verbalizations:

Group member quotes::
If things go wrong it is so because I caused it
I lie to myself about my intentions
I can’t do life - I just want to die
I remember everything I do wrong and think I have lost credibility with everybody
When I’m afraid I find something terrible with everything I look at
I want total consistency
I want to be able to explain everything in a convincing way
There is a potential of blame everywhere
I’ll never be good enough
I’m weak and defective and no one will ever love me
I’m a fake – I’m not what I represent myself to be
I’m shit
I’m not going to get any better than this
Just give up
Don’t even try
It’s too good to be true
Good things happen to other people, not to me
I don’t have money
I don’t have blue eyes
If I wasn’t such an awful human being, these things wouldn’t happen
If I have to depend on myself then I’m doomed
May be I’m being punished for something terrible I did in a previous life
I should have…
I should be like Suze Ormond, but I can’t and I don’t want to. She depresses me to death.
I hate myself and I wanna die
Whatever I’ll be doing, it’s wrong
If I’m quiet, I don’t like it. If I’m loud, I hate it.
I have made a mistake – this is a catastrophe – it’s too late now to fix it

On relationships:
I’m fuckable, but not keepable
People will fuck me , but won’t commit to me, because I’m not
cute, pretty, sexy, funny, smart , and/or talented enough to be loved
If they find out who I really am they will be disappointed
I’m just inadequate in every realm – except in bed, but they still don’t want me
My boyfriend left me - I must have driven him away
It’s my fault that he doesn’t want to be with me anymore
I wanted him to care
I wanted his attention, so I pushed, and pushed, and pushed until he just shut down
That’s all you’ve got?

Identify the Purpose of this Group:
Make shame-based thinking conscious by vocalizing it in a group so we can get comfort through identification with others
We work through these thoughts and replace them with friendly or at least truthful mental constructs
We are going to utilize the power of the spoken word

Affirmations for this Week:
I am lovable
I deserve to be happy today
I am my own good mother
* I can fix this problem
Remember: Do not say anything bad about yourself, because you just may believe it!