Dynamics of Shame and Low Self-Esteem 5

Blocks to Healing Shame issues are so liberating to heal, though they can sometimes be very difficult, especially if we encounter roadblocks to the healing process. There are different things that can prevent us from healing shame, including:

Negative attitudes we may have about ourselves. 

If you have always carried negative attitudes about yourself, when you try to heal the shame "tapes" that play in your mind, it can be difficult to change those messages to something more positive because you have truly come to believe that "tape" about yourself.  For example, if you have a tape that says "I am never good enough", to heal the shame surrounding that statement, you have to believe that there is a possibility that isn't true!

Memories of facial expressions or other images we see in other people that made us feel shameful about in the past, that we now see in other people.

For example, if your father used to get a certain "look" that made you feel like a disappointment as a child, when you see that similar look on your husband's face, you might instantly feel like a disappointment to him, too.

Age-regressive behaviors or reactions to another person.

For example, as a child, when your parent did something to you that caused you to feel angry, if you felt as though you weren't allowed to feel angry, you may have tried to cover up your anger by being numb or being quiet and shutting down.  The quietness is because you feel confused and overwhelmed by the feelings you are unable to express.  As an adult, when your spouse says or does something that makes you feel angry, you may have this same reaction of being quiet and shutting down, or becoming overwhelmed by all of the feelings you aren't allowing yourself to express.  This is a shame-based response.

Learning to get past these shame-based blocks to healing, first involves learning to become aware of it.  If not, we will constantly see our spouse and THEIR reaction as the problem, when it truly is our ability to see our own responses to them as the area of healing.

What to do when you encounter these reactions?

Take a deep breath.  Walk around and gather your thoughts.  Ask yourself, "What am I truly reacting to right now?"  Does this remind you of an earlier time in your life?  What limits do you need to set with this other person?  How can you have a voice with them to help you heal the child within you that wasn't allowed to have a voice?  Healing these roadblocks to shame means learning to take action and heal the situation by avoiding the mistreatment we lived through as a child.  Maybe you weren't allowed to have a voice as a child, but as an adult, you have the ability to say what you think, feel and need.

Adapted from "Healing the Child Within" by Charles L. Whitfield.

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.