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.
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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 If someone was judgmental, shaming, angry, blaming or withdrawn, I was sure that I must have said or done something wrong, or that I was just not good enough — wasn't worthy of love.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
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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.