When I was a young child I remember that one of my mother’s methods of making sure my behavior met her exactingly high standards was through the use of shame. In particular, if I was out with her in public and did something to upset her she would shout : ‘If you don’t do as I say immediately I will pull your trousers and pants down right now in public and spank your bare backside until it’s red raw. Red raw!’ (she had a penchant for repeating particular
We have seen from other articles that I have published on this site that those of us who have experienced significant and protracted childhood trauma often experience irrational, deep feelings of shame as adults which can severely disrupt our lives (for much more on this, see the section of this site entitled : ‘Self-Hatred And Shame‘).
Because living with profound feelings of shame is so psychologically painful and impinges so seriously upon our quality of life, it is worth considering undergoing counseling to help overcome the problem.
One important counseling technique employed to help individuals diminish their irrational, but insidious, sense of deep-rooted shame is to help them build shame resilience.
Overcoming Feelings Of Shame By Building Shame Resilience :
According to the American Psychological Association (2014), there are several important factors that help
We have already seen from other articles that I have published on this site that those of us who have experienced significant childhood trauma over a protracted period are at risk of, as adults, having to endure intense, irrational feelings of deep-rooted shame ; this can be extremely painful.
The Implicit Social Hierarchy :
In schools, it is unavoidable that children will be judged by their peers in relation to their perceived likability / popularity / desirability / acceptability etc so that, in effect, they are informally and implicitly ‘assigned’ a position in the social hierarchy.
Social Exclusion And Effects On Self-Esteem :
The way in which we were affected by such judgment by our peers when we were at school (our sensitivity to the acceptance / exclusion process tends to peak in middle school which coincides with the period in our lives
According to DeYoung, author of the excellent book : ‘Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame : A Relational / Neurobiological Approach‘, the experience of shame comes about as a result of dysfunctional relationships with other people (in particular, of course, with our parents when we are growing up) who are of emotional importance to us as opposed to affecting us as isolated, independent individuals. Because of this, DeYoung describes the experience
As we have seen from other articles I have published on this site, those who suffer severe trauma in early life may go on to experience irrational, deep-seated feelings of shame in adulthood, particularly if they have developed conditions highly likely to be linked to their adverse childhood experiences such as clinical depression or borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Feelings of shame can be excruciatingly painful; at their worst, they can cause us to completely isolate ourselves so that
According to psychodynamic theory, if, as babies, we are subjected to significant emotional abuse by the primary caregiver (usually the mother) such as constantly being subjected to her extreme anger, rage and hostility, we are at risk of developing a profound and pervasive sense of inner shame – the unshakable inner conviction that we are bad beyond redemption and worthless to humanity.
This can have extremely long-lasting, even lifelong (in the absence of effective therapy) effects,
Effects Of Repressed Shame
We have seen in other articles published on this site that if we have experienced significant childhood trauma we may, as adults, develop profound feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, self-hatred, rock-bottom self-esteem, feelings of being ‘innately bad’ and irrational self-blame for what we experienced. This pernicious brew of feelings about the self can devastate every area of our lives and cause us to live with a deep, abiding sense of shame.
Because feelings of such shame are so psychologically painful to live with, some individuals may develop certain psychological defense mechanisms (the cause of which is generally unconscious) in order to banish them from conscious awareness into the dark recesses of the unconscious where they simmer and fester.
According to the psychoanalyst, Joseph Burgo, PhD., the three main types of defense mechanisms we may unconsciously be driven to employ in a desperate attempt to avoid feeling this
There are many ways that during our childhood our risk of developing an inferiority complex as adults can be increased. For example, certain types of parenting can increase this risk, such as over- controlling, over- critical, over-protective, over- demanding and/or emotionally neglectful parenting. Being brought up by such parents, or in a way which is psychologically destructive, can
Origins Of Self-Hatred :
Following a childhood in which we had the experience of neglect, abuse, abandonment or a combination of these, it very frequently follows that we grow up to become intensely self-critical and even consumed by feelings of self-hatred.
Do You Ever Ask Yourself The Question : Am I A Bad Person?
When a child is continually mistreated, s/he will inevitably conclude that s/he must be innately bad. This is because s/he has a need (at an unconscious level) to preserve the illusion that her/his parents are good; this can only be achieved by taking the view that the mistreatment is deserved.
The child develops a fixed pattern of self-blame, and a belief that their mistreatment is due to their ‘own faults’. As the parent/s continue to mistreat the