Have you unsuccessfully tried to heal feelings of shame, self-loathing & unworthiness? You CAN heal!
When I was growing up I was frequently shamed, criticized and judged by both of my parents, as well as by my grandmother who lived with us, and by many of my teachers. I grew up believing that there was something basically and essentially wrong with me. I didn't know what it was, but I believed if I could just figure out how to do things right, then the shaming and judgments would go away and I would be loved. But no matter how good I was, or how perfect my grades were, the shaming judgments didn't go away.
As a young adult, I continued to believe I was not good enough. I later came to understand that this is called 'core shame' –- the belief that there is something basically and essentially flawed about oneself.
Through years of reading, therapy, workshops and introspection, I came to understand that there was nothing essentially wrong with me –- that I was a good person. But whenever I experienced someone's less-than-loving response to me, I still felt it was my fault. If someone was judgmental, shaming, angry, blaming or withdrawn, I was sure that I must have said or done something wrong, or that I was just not good enough — wasn't worthy of love.
None of the books I read, workshops I attended, or therapy I experienced ever did anything to take away this core shame. I thought this was just the way it was – I was flawed and there was nothing I could do about it.
Then, twenty-eight years ago, Spirit brought Inner Bonding to us — to me and to my best friend, Dr. Erika Chopich. While I had already developed the understanding about there being only two intents at any given moment— to control or to learn, and I had written about it in my best-selling book, "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?" — until Inner Bonding I didn't understand the subtleties of the intent to control.
One day, as I was caught up in my usual self-judgment of "I'm not good enough or lovable enough. I must have done something wrong," in the face of someone's anger at me, awareness struck me like a bolt of lightning. I finally understood why I had never been able to heal my core shame.
The Control of Self-Judgment
What I clearly saw in that instant was that the only way I could feel as if I had control over the other person's behavior was to believe it was my fault — due to there being something wrong with me. What I was trying to control with my self-shaming was the very painful feeling of helplessness over others’ behavior and feelings, and the equally painful feelings of loneliness, heartache or heartbreak when others were unloving to me. I saw that I was using self-judgment and the resulting feelings of shame and unworthiness to cover over and avoid feeling these deeper painful feelings.
This understanding was stunning to me! I saw that I wanted to believe that their behavior was my fault, because then I could also believe that I could do something about it — I could figure out how to act right or say the right thing and thereby control their feelings and behavior.
From that understanding, I learned that three truths needed to be compassionately embraced for me to finally heal my core shame.
- I needed to fully accept that, while I might be able to influence others' feelings and behavior, I truly have no control over who others choose to be and how they choose to act. I am helpless over others' choices.
- Their behavior is much more about them than me, so I could learn to not take their behavior toward me personally.
- I needed to realize that, as an adult, I can manage my core painful feelings — loneliness when others who are important to me disconnect from me; heartache or heartbreak when others are unloving or downright mean; and helplessness over others.
Through my Inner Bonding practice, I had learned how to bring in the compassion, kindness and comfort of Spirit to my own feelings, and move into an intent to learn about what they were telling me. I had learned to do this with feelings such as anxiety, depression and anger, and I now extended this compassionate learning to the deeper feelings of loneliness, heartbreak and helplessness over others — feelings I had been avoiding my whole life. As a child, I could not manage these very painful feelings, so I learned to avoid them with various addictive/controlling behaviors — such as food and compliance. Now I realized that self-judgment/shaming/self-loathing was just another addiction — another controlling way of avoiding these deeper core painful feelings of life.
Wow! Equally stunning to me was that my core shame vanished! The moment I accepted my lack of control and learned to manage the deeper painful feelings that I felt when someone was unloving, I became free of shame!
Currently, I help my clients do the same. Some have struggled with core shame their whole lives; once they understand that control and shame are intricately tied together, and once they are ready to let go of believing they cause others' unloving behavior toward them, and learn to manage their own painful core life feelings, they too become free of shame.
And so can you!
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a relationship expert, best-selling author, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah. To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, receive Free Help, and take our 12-Week eCourse, "The Intimate Relationship Toolbox" – the first two weeks are free!
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