Shame makes you want to hide from yourself and loved ones, creating barriers to fulfilling relationships.
Are you ashamed when you loose your cool and act in ways that you later regret?
Are you mortified with shame when some mean and nasty part of you slips out and your loved ones don’t see the angel that you try so hard to portray?
Shame stops you in your tracks by giving you a punishing dose of self-disapproval.
It is effective in putting the brakes on, but does nothing to address the thoughts and feelings that led you to behave in ways that you later judge unacceptable.
Shame makes you hide and shut down.
When you shut down you are not available for a relationship.
You feel undeserving so you won’t let yourself be loved.
You won’t offer love either because you believe it comes from a shameful place.
Relationships then take on a mechanical quality that has little meaning.
All that is left is a set of prescribed behaviors that turn the relationship into a dry and unsatisfying connection.
Psychotherapy can help you manage shameful experiences in your relationships by:
1. Helping you understand the difference between feeling shame over being ‘weak and needy’ versus using support to master something that is difficult.
Benefit: you develop a healthy balance between self-sufficiency and reliance on others. The balance ensures that your needs are taken care of, so that shame doesn’t have to be your driver.
2. Helping you become more comfortable with the less competent parts of you before they become ogres that you have to slay with shame.
Benefit: you are motivated to master and polish the skills that you feel ashamed of and want to hide. You become competent and no longer have to feel ashamed.
3. Guiding to you towards a view of your learning curve that is step-wise, rather than immediate.
Benefit: you don’t feel ashamed when you can’t get from A to Z in a matter of seconds. You see progress in the small incremental steps and feel pride and satisfaction in yourself.
4. Providing a model of the way in which you could speak to yourself that is encouraging rather than critical and shame based.
Benefit: you are less stressed and afraid of failure. You can learn and consolidate your relationship skills, practicing them without forcing yourself to be perfect every time.
Copyright Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
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