Teri did a great job yesterday introducing Shame, and how lethal of an issue it can be. Another way I like to describe shame is to say it's the feeling you get when you feel bad & horrible when something goes wrong, but you didn't do anything wrong! Can you relate? It's feeling toxic guilt when there is no blame needed to be taken. Let's look at 5 more characteristics of a Shame based family environment:
- A family that doesn't allow mistakes to be made will have family members grow up thinking perfectionism is required. No one is perfect so mistakes will happen, it's natural! A child who grows up in this type of family will demand perfectionism from themself, set high standards, and hold others to them as well.
- A family who gives messages that say "You can never do anything right", will create children and (later) adults who become failure prone. Whether it's directly saying these statments or indirectly indicating the message, the family members will grow up thinking they cannot do for themselves and think they are "screw ups" and will act that way.
- A family that pushes for "always doing better" create children and adults later in life who are over-achievers. We are not saying do not encourage your children. We are saying find a balance in allowing them to be them, and encouraging them.
- A family that has limited expressions of love, may result in children who are desperate for approval. Two of our core emotional needs are to be loved and to know we are wanted. If children don't get these needs met, they walk around "hungry" and try to get "fed" by other means (approval). This will extend into adulthood as well.
- A family that shows conditional support (aka, "You're accepted/loved as long as you act the way we want"), will have children who have their self-worth dependent on other's opinions. Unconditional love and support ("I love you even if you upset me & if you act in a manner that is displeasing to me") will allow a child's self-esteem to grow and their self-worth to become established. Use discipline to communicate dissatisfaction with a displeasing behavior, not withdrawing support and love.
Do you see yourself or your family in any of these characteristics? There is help & hope for overcoming Shame. Please check back in with us on Thursday as we continue our discussion & revisit 5 more characteristics of shame-based family environments. Thanks for reading!
Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counselingat Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.