Shame is taught or learned in many ways. The following is not necessarily an exhaustive list. I’m sure there are many more ways that shame develops into self-defeating patterns in our lives. Even if you do not recognize the example as happening in your life, it may occur to you later on as you explore examples that are familiar to you. Shame-based people block out the past because it is so painful. Allow yourself time to explore your past. Physical abuse - this is touch or sexualized behavior that is hurtful and given without compassion. The message again is that there must be something wrong with you. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have happened. Being made responsible for other people’s behavior - this is being responsible for something you have no control over. For example a parent’s drinking problems, siblings destroying things, or conflicts in the family. Blame - Regardless of what is happening, it is your fault. You become a scapegoat. Being expected to know but never taught or given opportunity to learn - The message here is that your mistakes make you a mistake. Because you don’t intuitively know how to do something, there must be something wrong with you. Sibling comparison - comparisons are made on a wide range from being smart, being athletic, being pretty, to being responsible, and many more. Religion - You were told or you defined yourself as evil or a sinner and need penance to be good. This causes you to be shame-based versus grace-based.
Learn more by reading November 2011 Love in Action Newsletter @ Newsletter Archives