How to recognize shame in your life and family and to grow out of it Part 2 -with Video –
Last week we dug into the subject of shame. I shared (here) five common patterns for people and families who live life through the lenses of shame.
Today we will see the 10 other points.
Let’s dive into it right away:
YOU ACT LIKE A VICTIM
“People with a history of relationships that have given them a sense of shame often become victims in later-life relationships because of the deeply ingrained message that they are “defective.” When they experience rape, incest, physical, emotional or spiritual abuse, neglect, job intimidation, or they are simply taken advantage of, these events shout a message through their shame-grid that gets through loud and clear: You lack a boundary that says, “I don’t have to be treated this way.”
You don’t have a no for an answer! “
YOU TEND TO “CODE” WHEN YOU COMMUNICATE.
Growing up with the potential for shame every time you open your mouth creates the need to code. You make it hard for people to confront you, because you don’t say what you mean outright. Since it’s not okay to have needs, or notice things, or break unwritten rules, then you have to say and do things in code. Otherwise they may respond by saying, “You’re wrong to feel that way,” which will “prove” to you that you are wrong.
Have you ever said something like
“I have to do everything by myself…!”
by putting the dirty dishes into the dishwasher? Well.. you were coding.
Speaking openly on what you wish that would happen, you could have said:
”Dear, could you please help me to put the dirty dishes into the dishwasher?”
Other examples are:
- When your neighbor tells you “There is a car wash down the street” and you know exactly that he thinks your car should get a cleaning.
- Telling how you are overwhelmed without asking directly for help
- Picking up your children’s toys, grumbling “no one is cleaning up in this house”
- Telling your friend: “You don’t need to go through all this trouble for me!” (translates: If you don’t want me to feel terrible, you better do it!
YOU SUFFER A LOT OF STRESS-RELATED ILLNESS.
“This is just the end result of the process of trying to live a “perfect” life. Being perfect is hard work. Also, your shame-history has left you with many skills that help you avoid problems, but without the skills you need to face and solve problems. Since avoiding doesn’t solve, you get to keep the problems—and the related stress.”
YOU CAN’T HAVE GUILT-FREE FUN.
It is very hard for you to go eat in a restaurant and enjoy your meal. Why spend all this money for something that is not really necessary? Or why spend your Sunday afternoon reading a book or playing soccer with your kids? There are plenty more “meaningful” things you could do with your valuable time!
YOU ACT IN WAYS THAT SEEM CONTRADICTORY.
There is little balance in your life.
- You eat super healthy and then you can’t hold back on chocolate.
- You try hard to appear perfect – then you arrive at a point you couldn’t care less
- You are very close friend of someone – then you don’t even want to talk to this person anymore
- You are invested in your church and are part at every event – then you feel tired and take a time away from church.
- Emotionally, you are either fully motivated or you lack this motivation that would help you to carry on with whatever you started doing.
- “You ask for intimacy and then push it away when it comes.”
- You signal that you want help, then give a “hands-off” message.
Relationships are very hard for you. They scare you. They feel like a nasty trick waiting to be played.
YOU CAN’T DEAL WITH GIFTS VERY WELL
“First, you can’t receive gifts. If you’re a shame-based person, there are two ways to shame you. One is simply to say out rightly, “You’re a terrible person; why don’t you dry up and blow away?” The second one is to give you a gift—for no reason. If I give you a free gift, it attacks your shame-grid, which reminds you that you don’t deserve a gift, or makes you suspect that I must really want something in return.
“There must be a string attached,” you say.
Or, “If you knew what I’m really like, you’d never be giving me this gift.”
You’ll have to think of a way to pay me back immediately, or the gift will drive you nuts. Secondly, you can’t give gifts. You have to be careful that you don’t give away too much without keeping track, always making sure people notice, or pay you back.”
Maybe your aunt gives you picture to put on the wall on Christmas. You have to be careful to put it on the wall, on a place she can see it! Otherwise, the next time she comes by, be it even two years later, she doesn’t see the picture and asks “Where’s that picture I gave you? I suppose you didn’t really like it . . .” She says this with a sigh and a little whine in her voice. You’ve just discovered that it wasn’t really a gift. It had a string attached, and your aunt is tugging on it hard.
But whose gift was it—hers, or yours? When you give a gift, it belongs to the person to whom you gave it.
How do you feel when you receive any amount of money? Do you feel to buy what you really want or need to do with that money – or are you scared that the person will be upset when you don’t spend it the way they expected you to (Of course, without telling you what they except you to!)
YOU SABOTAGE YOUR OWN SUCCESS
“At the same time that you are seeking the acceptance of others—the way someone who’s dying searches for water in the desert—when you finally get it, it collides against every deeply ingrained message of shame. Feeling good feels bad. I’m convinced there are people in therapy who could get well—but they don’t because well people are expected to be responsible for their actions. Dysfunction is simply safer. Why? Because failure based on illness seems less shameful than failure without an excuse.”
With the words
you open yourself up for shaming. Others will evaluate what you did. You can’t cope with criticism because that criticism would not only tell you what you didn’t do good enough, but tell you that you aren’t good enough. Unfinished projects are a built-in excuse.
“You will do it one day, and then it will be perfect, proving your own worth with it”.
YOU ARE POSSESSIVE IN RELATIONSHIPS
“Relationships are so difficult for you to develop and maintain that you are afraid of being deserted once you form a relationship with someone—and you hang on for dear life.“
YOU HAVE A HIGH NEED FOR CONTROL
Earlier, we talked about a high level of anxiety. This condition creates a high need for control. Since your sense of well-being and security is based on externals, you’re preoccupied with the status of things and the behavior of people.
Everytime things or people don’t look or act the way you need them to, you fix, correct, adjust, , improve, remedy, solve, reform, remodel, or punish.
This goes beyond the usual adult responsibility to guide: You need things to be “just so” in order to be able to relax. But that time never comes.
Have you recognized yourself in some way?
You see, uncovering shame is an important step to get rid of it. As long as you believe that this is who you are, there is no way out of it.
The more you dig into the subject, the more you will realize the areas shame has influenced your life. I encourage you to choose to stand up against shame; it’s a lie, it’s a chain that hinders you to walk in your uniqueness, in the reality that you are loved, that you are of high worth and value.