The chains of shame.
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|Sat, 11-19-2011 - 3:26pm|
Someone asked me if I would share what I have been learning about shame and post it in here so I have taken some bits and pieces from posts where I have talked about shame and how facing this issue has helped in my healing. This is my understanding of shame, others may have different views and I would love it if others could also chime in and talk about how they were able to walk through their shame coming out of their affair.
Brene Brown explains in one of her books that shame is one of the least talked about emotions because it brings about feelings of worthlessness, never feeling good enough, a lack of value in ourselves etc. She also says the difference between guilt and shame is:
Guilt = I did something bad,
Shame = I am bad.
And the really interesting thing I found she writes is 'Shame needs three things to grow out of control in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgement. So affairs really are the perfect breeding ground for shame.
Shame has the ability to control us in ways we don’t even realise. Perfectionism, filling our lives with external worth, addictions etc. All keep us trapped in the endless cycle of shame because the very thing we are trying to escape from causes us to keep making choices that feed it. Remorse and guilt are the result of our actions, shame is the driving force of our actions. So even though we may stop doing something that causes remorse and guilt which then helps those feelings begin to fade, unless the cause of what keeps us in shame is addressed, it will be hard to not slip back into self destructive patterns or negative thinking, which will continue to impact our lives and those around us.
The thing is we are always going to face shame at some stage of our lives, it is how we learn to walk through it, that will be the basis of how it affects us and our choices.
Brene Brown talks about being able to own your shame. Admit your failings but don’t be defined by them. If you were to fall in mud, you know it will eventually come off, it doesn’t make you dirty within but it sure makes you look dirty. Our affairs have definitely brought about shame inducing behaviours but remember shame needs to be seen in the right context. Shame has a way of making us perceive ourselves in a certain way. Own the behaviour not the perceptions. Allow the remorse and guilt to guide you out of it and stop feeding the shame.
Shame is a dark emotion and when we shine light on it, it slips away.
Shining a light on it may be by sharing your story – with safe people. People who will not judge you. That means if you mess up NC or are tempted to, you should never be ashamed to come on here and share that. How many of us dread posting something that makes us feel we are not worth being a part of this board or even worse, post something expecting to have our shame reflected back at us, as that is what unsafe people have done (like our xap’s). And by the end of the thread how often do we feel that shame slip away as we realise our actions were wrong but who we are isn’t, thanks to the wonderful and non judgemental support from others who can relate to our experiences. That is a step to becoming shame resilient.
Another way of shining the light is by looking back at what caused the shame. For me a lot of my foundational shame has been my childhood and the things I came to believe about myself through experiences that were damaging to my worth and value as a person. For me I had to face and are still facing those things. I am having to change my thought processes to one that makes me a survivor of those experiences and not a victim. It means stripping away the darkness of those childhood years and finding the core of who I really am. Allowing the true me to emerge without being hindered by insecurity, a need for external validation, anxiety, obligation, people pleasing and so the list goes on.
Finally walking through shame is realising, who you are is enough. No matter what you do or don’t do today or tomorrow, no matter how others may perceive you, no matter how much you think you have to be perfect so as to not feel the chains of shame, you are enough, right now. So let your actions reflect that instead of allowing them to be guided by shame. You are worthy, you are valuable, when you can find your self worth it is a lot easier to push shame away when it comes knocking.
This is the title of one of Brene Browns books, which turned my thinking around: The gifts of imperfection.
And here is her blog: