3. Shame is followed by anger. Take my word for it, shame almost always leads to anger. The anger may be expressed toward anyone. After feeling the sting of shame, we may be angry at ourselves, we may be angry at the world, we may be angry at the easiest person to be angry at or we may fear the anger of others that we know is likely to emerge if we make noise about the shameful situation.
So, family members enable the alcoholic rather than confront him, institutions shield and hide the abusers in their midst rather than share the shame of exposure and people with suspicions of others keep their mouths shut and their heads down. The fear of angry reprisals can extend to fear of legal action against the institutions involved. But underlying this fear is the naive wish that it will all just go away, even if we can cover it up. Hurrying and Worrying: Your Brain Doesn't Differentiate
Understanding the nature of our powerful survival emotions, how they compel us to freeze, run, attack, or hide, can help us resist the self defeating behavioral reactions that can arise in response to emotionally loaded situations. Wishing the problems and the feelings would just go away only prolongs the damaging situation.
Brock Hansen, LCSW, author of Shame and Anger: The Criticism Connection, can be reached through his website at www.Change-for-Good.ORG
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