Many people are confused about the issue of shame. They often mistake it as guilt or as just being ashamed of an action you have done; but that is only a fraction of this issue. Shame is a lethal issue, which can paralyze someone if it is not addressed. Claudia Black defines it as “Painful feelings that come with the belief that there is something inherently wrong with you.” At Imagine Hope we find that most people walking through our doors struggle with this issue on some level. Shame is a “spectrum issue” meaning it has a range of intensity on a continuum. It can be a thought process of “I am never good enough” to “I am worthless and unlovable”. Shame issues are formed and thrive in shame-based environments. This week Imagine Hope wants to give you examples of characteristics of shame-based family environments in order to avoid raising your children with such a toxic influence. Traits of a Shame-Based Family Environment
- A family who does not affirm each other will result in it's members having a low self-esteem. Affirmation helps you form your self-concept.
- A family who's focus is on your performance over the actual person will create a feeling that your actions are what make you valuable. A person may feel they don't have actual worth, it's more about what they do or how they contribute to the family that gives them worth rather than who they are as a person.
- A family who blames every negative instance on one person and punishes them for the errors of others (this is called scapegoating) will make this person feel they are responsible for everything. This can create extreme amounts of pressure ending in them feeling like they can't do anything right.
- A family who has rules that they are not to fight or have conflict will result in a person who avoids conflict. This person will learn to not have a voice and that their opinion doesn't matter. Teaching healthy problem solving and conflict resolution is important for healthy development.
- A family who does not validate it's members efforts will cause a person to doubt themselves and second guess their efforts and abilities. This person will often beat up on themselves with self-talk that says, "If only I did ____".
Remember living with shame can be a painful way of life. Be sure to follow these tips to avoid this issue becoming a reality in your environment. Keep reading this week for more characteristics.
Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW
Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.