Maybe, even after reading the last post on recovering from a lifetime of being ashamed, you are *still* feeling and struggling—on the daily—with shame.
This is because we can intellectually know things, we can read and hear and learn and do all kinds of self-work, we can be logical and rational all day long…
And still have all the same triggers, the same cruel inner voices that can’t be silenced at all the worst moments, the same mysterious self-sabotage curse that remains unbroken.
If you STILL have deep-seated, crippling, unabated shame, there is only one place to turn: inward and upward.
HOW TO STOP STRUGGLING WITH SHAME EVERYDAY, RECLAIM YOUR SANITY, AND BREATHE FREE
0.) Learn How Your Brain Works In Order To Disarm Your Triggers
Get familiar with and recognize what the gatekeeper of your brain (called the “critical factor”) does with your specific triggers.
Doctor David Snyder explains it really well in this video
“It [the critical factor] is the filing system where your nervous system puts those incomplete photographs [your memories].
Whenever you go into an experience, whenever you have an experience…anyone here have familiar feelings in an unfamiliar situation? How does that work?
Because there is this little (I call it a bouncer at the gate) thing, I call it ‘the guardian at the gate’.
Every time a communication comes in, there’s this little guy at the gate that says, ‘You can’t come in.’
Maybe I get a message, ‘David is a flaming butthead.’
[The gatekeeper asks] ‘David ever been a flaming butthead?’
And there’s this little guy in the Records Room going, ‘Hey! David, a flaming butthead? Let me check.’ … ‘Yes! David, in fact, HAS been a flaming butt-head!’
And the Critical Factor says: ‘Go on in.’
That ‘bouncer’ is your 'Critical Factor’, the part that analyzes, judges, and decides. If what is in there matches what is coming in from the outside, it goes in. It’s not challenged.
In a situation, it’s going to ask, ‘Well this happened, what are we going to do about it?’
[Records Room]: ‘We did this!’
[Critical Factor]: ‘We’ll do that again!’
So if you are going to default to this process anyway, why not put stuff back there that makes your life better? Why not put stuff back there that gives you the resources, the responses that you want to have, instead of the stuff that was put there by default?”
This is why the only trigger or insecurity that can be activated is one that already exists in your mind, no matter how small it may be:
“After I graduated from college, a family member told me that it was a good thing I now had a college degree because I was never going to be the prettiest girl in the room. I can’t even begin to tell you how much that statement devastated and haunted me for years to come. I got deep into the jealousy, validation seeking, comparing, and self-sabotage.
Now, I can see that the only reason that statement affected me on the level that it did was because a part of me believed it was true.
All it takes is .000001% of you to believe that maybe, just maybe, the hurtful behavior or words directed toward you are true (which are generally activated by old childhood insecurities/pains/beliefs), and ta-da! You’ve been knocked down, once again.
If someone came up to me and said that I had ugly blue hair, I wouldn’t be running to the first available mirror to make sure that my hair was brown, I’d just think the person was crazy. But if a part of me believed that I could have even one strand of blue hair? They would activate the insecurity, I would inflate it, and my actions, beliefs, and perception would be permeated just.like.that.
Remember: No one can activate insecurity that doesn’t exist. If it isn’t there, it can never be activated. Period. Work on deactivating your personal insecurity alarm system today and change the passcode for good instead of giving it out at every turn.” —Natasha Adamo
Respect your emotional refractory period:
Excellent takes on the E.R.P. from Doctor David Snyder's video
“We have this thing, this phenomenon, called the emotional refractory period. Your unconscious mind does not need your permission to do anything. You do not get a 2-minute warning that you are about to have an emotional shift. All emotional shifts, all emotions, are trance states…Any significant emotional shift overrides the Critical Factor of the conscious mind, it tweaks your perceptions, and it makes you do what the ‘reptile’ [brain] wants…It’s what is driving the bus. So the sooner you learn about that, the sooner you become aware of it, the more control you have over it. Most of you are here because you want to take the randomness out of your life…
When you have an emotional shift, your nervous system systematically, without your permission, without your consent, in the blink of eye, tweaks what you consciously pay attention to. How many people here have ever been in an argument with somebody? But let me see how many people here have ever had this experience: How many of you have ever been in an argument with somebody, you go through the whole argument process, you finished the argument, you think it’s resolved, and for the next 15, 20 minutes, anything you say pisses them off again! And you keep saying, ‘I’m sorry honey, I’m sorry!’ What happened there?
Whenever you have an emotional shift, those emotions are like little life-forms, metaphorically. But what happens is they have a life-span, and like any living creature, they seek to go on for as long as they can. So what will happen, because the nervous system is always seeking to stay in the same state that it’s in (the whole thing is designed to seek homeostasis); if it is in a higher state of arousal, it will want to maintain that level of arousal until the fuel runs out. So what it will do is it will tweak your perceptual faculties, it will change what you consciously pay attention to as it will focus on anything in your environment, or the people in it, that will reactivate or re-trigger the state. That becomes exceptionally useful if you’re doing any high-level persuasion or influence because that means that if I can change how you’re body feels, I will change how you perceive everything else.”
Self-love isn’t just a cute, hoaky phrase. It’s getting to know yourself and care for yourself in an effective way so that you are no longer the puppet in someone else’s show—including the puppet show of your own destructive sense of shame from out-of-control emotions.
Change your gestalt (those perceptions that you focus on while everything else fades out of view) and you change your entire life.
Your brain is unique in that it is both a voluntary and involuntary “muscle”. Once you understand the involuntary and automatic programming, you can catch it *in the moment* (instead of being a hostage to embarrassing hindsight and regret that always reinforces the shame you so painfully know all too well). You can voluntarily override that pattern, re-train your critical factor with what you *choose* to accept, and create a new program that serves your best interests and puts YOU in control.
1.) Use Passive Language To Criticize, Use Active Language To Praise
This video by communication skills trainer Dan O’Connor is literally life-changing
Putting what Dan O'Connor suggests into practice, I recently re-read some old blog posts. Instead of saying, “Man, I am terrible at blogging. I am so wordy and rambling. And I am also the most inconsistent person on the planet. Yuck.” I said, “These old blog posts could be better. By taking them down and re-working them, maybe they will be more helpful and succinct.”
Sick and tired of feeling ashamed? Stop internalizing shortcomings by taking them on as your identity.
Criticize *things*, praise people. Don’t forget that YOU are also a people.
2.) Stop Putting Yourself In Double Binds
Double binds are also called “Catch-22s”. They are impossible situations that you can’t win because both outcomes make you the loser.
In my own life, I was raised by a parent who constantly set me up by giving me contradictory advice and put in me in vulnerable situations where I usually lacked any substantial agency. No matter what I did, didn’t do, or what ended up happening, they could always criticize and shame me for “not taking their advice”—because they told me to do multiple things that were mutually exclusive. If things did miraculously work out, they would either take credit and use this as proof that I was incompetent on my own, OR they would ruin it with criticism that things “could have been better” if I had only done X, Y, and Z.
In this way I learned to never trust my own judgement, never take a risk, and generally believe that bad luck and failure was my birthright.
I had to re-teach myself to avoid no-win people and situations and become more creative and strategic in my thinking and solutions instead of internalizing every dilemma and decision as a cosmic pie-in-the-face gag designed to let me know just how stupid and dependent I was.
You can too.
3.) Recognize The Source
“We are all biologically programmed to internalize an inner voice whose purpose is to provide us with inner guidance so that we can live independently in society. Sigmund Freud called this inner voice our ‘Superego.’ In its simplest form it rewards us with praise when we do well and act appropriately and punishes us with shame and guilt when we transgress. It is made up of our internalized parental and cultural values. Some people simply call this inner voice our conscience.
Our interactions with our childhood caregivers determine the type of guidance we will internalize and whether it will be reasonable and helpful. If you had a malignant Narcissist father, your inner critic will be unbalanced and heavily biased towards punishing you harshly for even tiny transgressions and it is unlikely to ever reward you.” —Doctor Elinor Greenberg
4.) Avoid Hierarchical Thinking
Hierarchical thinking is a kind of double bind that becomes a way of life. It’s never-ending comparison with others and wondering where you fall on the status-scale in the room. Who is superior to me? Who is beneath me? How do I fight my way to the top while putting / keeping others “in their place”?
Or maybe, like me, you just always assumed the underling / doormat role because you feel that the only likability you have is your utility and morphability.
It’s exhausting and a perfect way to lose friends and win enemies / users (+ contempt), but if it is all you know, it is all you know.
That can change today. Instead of viewing yourself as a little (or big) fish in some sort of food chain, get a star’s-eye view of the web of life, where every individual is unique, necessary, equal in importance and equally deserving of respect despite all those differences (that are only skin deep)—including YOU.
Life doesn’t have to be a ladder where “be careful who you meet on the way up; you might meet them on the way down” cutthroat battlefield. It can be a supportive and neighborly community. This isn’t a hippie-dippy pipe dream; it’s only a perception away.
5.) Apologize To YOURSELF With Repairative Apologies
Instead of the poison that is the constant blah, blah, blah of “I’m sorry, I’m so stupid”, bending over backwards to explain & be understood (especially to your own self), and feeling crazy and defeated with those horrible, never-ending obsessive thoughts and ruminations…
Try a repairative apology (also called a "no fault do-over").
A repairative apology doesn’t use cheap talk that erodes what is left of your self confidence. Repairative apologies are unique because they’re a kind of restorative justice. It uses ACTION to correct the past by creating a future worth living.
Doctor Elinor Greenberg offers this beautiful example:
“I had a client Ann with Borderline Personality Disorder. She was a lovely, intelligent, and kind woman. Unfortunately, she had very low self-esteem because her family had scapegoated her, did not appreciate her strengths, and she had been date-raped twice as a teenager and blamed herself.
One day in therapy she said: ‘I wish I didn’t have low self-esteem.’
I said: ‘That’s not so hard to fix.’
She was surprised but game to try and asked: ‘How do I do that?’
I said: ‘It is simple. You just have to pick a few things you esteem and do them.’”
Tired of being ashamed? Pick a few things you esteem…and start doing them.
Becoming a person that you are proud of may take longer than you like, but it WILL happen--and sooner than you'd expect. When you realize what is happening behind the scenes in your brain, and why, then you can shift your perspective. And when you shift your perspective, shame will no longer have a place in your daily life because your reality will be grounded IN reality.
In the meantime, I am so proud of you. For looking for answers. For choosing yourself. For the you who has showed up to participate in your life every day, and for who you are becoming. For all of it.
All Of My Love (Always!),
Want to work together one-on-one? I'm here.