SHAME and condemnation
When we talk about shame and condemnation, we may not fully understand the extent and structures that have become part of our personality. From childhood, most people are programmed with varying degrees of condemnation. Many people are not aware of the effect of shame on the body. Shame is the feeling of pain and the experience of believing that we are deficient and unworthy of love and belonging. When we experience shame, we are in a contraction of ourselves. We shrink in and hold back parts of ourselves. When we are well, we want to expand, while when we are afraid, we want to contract. Our personal experience of shame causes our DNA to contract, so that it does not fully express everything we have to offer. The way people contract happens in many ways. For Alexander's part, it was under armor and defense - perfectionism. Many of the clients I have worked with have worn large patterns of shame without being aware of it. There is great potential for self-healing in making visible and treating notions of shame with us.
Shame is perhaps something we in daily life do not think significantly about. This is how it was for me when I trained as a gestalt therapist and experienced the same thing that several of my clients feel when we talk about shame. In the first year of the education, there were several student friends who had challenges in relation to perceived shame. They felt that the shame was inhibiting. At this point, I had not realized what shame meant to me. I remember thinking, " I have many experiences in my life and many challenging experiences, but fortunately I have little shame ." I sincerely believed that shame was not prominent in my psyche. But as I worked on the mechanisms of shame, I could feel what the feeling on a deep level was doing to me. It turned out that many of my childhood programming had a lot of shame attached to it. Shame is about the suppression of our authentic selves.
When I went into the core of my own shame for the first time, it was incredibly painful. My body went in the " freezer " and I sat and shook for an hour. I could not say anything and was completely frozen. I remember the gestalt therapist sitting next to me asked, " Have you killed anyone, because it looks like that?" ». In other words, I was a bit of a sight when I for the first time allowed myself to go through the emotional part of me. I could not speak, just sat and shook while holding my legs close to my body, like a small child in the fetal position. In many ways I became a small child in this situation, because the patterns of shame from childhood were deep. Without going into too much detail, I would have chosen to almost completely wipe out my authentic self. I had done this to adapt to who I experienced my parents and surroundings wanted me to be.
All children are honest and straight forward by nature, which I was too. I was also relatively good at talking to myself. When I talked about myself and mine, a number of details about several short patterns were repeatedly revealed. Based on this, and so that the family would not be put in an unfortunate light, I was therefore called a liar. I was told that I was an imaginative child who told jokes, to cover up the shortcomings that should not be shown to the outside world. Is this recognizable to you? One of the feedback that has followed me is that I am too honest. It's a paradox that I've got an attachment - to be honest. The feedback I received from my surroundings made me choose to hold back from the age of five. Throughout primary school, I was a quiet and dutiful child who said as little as possible. The worst thing I showed was to raise my hand, and I only spoke when I had to. I had developed the mastery strategy " hold back ", to adapt to the best possible.
Professor, lecturer, author and podcast host Brené Brown points out that the pain that shame triggers is enough to stimulate the survival part of the brain. Studies show that in relation to the brain, the experience of physical pain and the feelings of strong social rejection will be experienced in exactly the same way.
Strong social rejection is the opposite of belonging to a group and is one of the strongest needs we have as babies. If we draw parallels to certain religions and the expulsion of members if they do not follow the rules of religion, we see that the pain of this strong social rejection makes people stick to the group's religion. Shame is pain. The importance of social acceptance and attachment is reinforced by the chemistry in our brains, and the pain that arises from social rejection and lack of attachment are real chemical processes.
We all need to belong to a flock or a group. The transformation and development I have made in myself, I would not have managed without the wonderful flock and the groups that I have been and are part of. I have a therapy community, and am part of several groups where we mutually support and build each other up. Herds and groups can be both evolving and destructive. The groups I am part of today give me great growth and learning in various areas. The best development and learning takes place in relationships. It is easy to be alone and relate to oneself and one's own. The greatest learnings and developments we have take place in relationships and fellowship with people. Many people have this need covered in their workplaces or in leisure organizations. Belonging and feeling of flock are fundamentally important to people.
In the aftermath of Aleksander's suicide, I have repeatedly used the word shame in relation to family feelings. Shame and guilt have been feelings that have washed over everyone in my family in relation to thoughts about Aleksander and his life before he chose suicide. I find that many people, like my younger self, simply do not understand the fact that shame can be part of our heritage and DNA. Some have interpreted the use of the word shame as if I have abused Aleksander and therefore bear shame. That I have beaten him or abused others, because this is their association around the word shame. Shame is a basic feeling that all people have felt to a greater or lesser degree. It's about us basically not feeling good enough. That we are not good enough parents, that we are not good enough at work / school, that we are not financially responsible enough, that we are not good enough friends, good enough daughter / mother, or a good enough partner. Everyone in my immediate family has felt that we were not good enough in the relationship with Aleksander because he chose to take his own life. If we had been good enough, he would not have taken his life, would he?
Literature about shame shows that the feeling of shame is most often experienced in childhood, and then carried into adulthood. It can have an incredibly strong impact on our self-esteem, well-being and health. It is associated with embarrassment and humiliation, and often inflicted by those closest to us. We carry shame in the cells of the body, inherited from family members who have been humiliated in the past or shame patterns that lie in our country. If the country we were born in has been through something we are strongly opposed to, such as war, these patterns of shame may lie in our cells. We can also feel embarrassed about parenting, religion, work, appearance and many other things. Many also feel ashamed if they have lied, cheated, threatened someone or caused others pain. They often go with a sense of remorse and regret for these actions. If they do not forgive and let go, the shame can cause the body to die little by little. Although we usually experience that it is our family that has offended us, it is, seen from a larger whole, about society and culture as bearers of shame. We are all born into a great cultural society with shame. We do not find a single human being on earth who has not known these patterns. Shame is the single factor that affects and shapes us the most because it shrinks our essence as human beings.
Brené Brown points out that there are mainly two shame triggers most people have known about, and which are at least recognizable to us who grew up with the Law of Jante.
" - Not good enough, and - who do you think you are ."
If we go to the root of these feelings, they boil down to the feeling of value . The self-esteem of self-worth. That we feel that we are worthy in relation to love and belonging and that we deserve it.
Brown says that it is the connection that is the reason we are here. We are pre-programmed to connect with others. It is interaction with others that gives life purpose and meaning, and without this, life is a suffering. When we feel ashamed, we usually try to protect ourselves. We blame something or someone, justify ourselves, come up with false explanations or go into hiding. Brown points out that shame needs 3 components to stay in our system and to grow. These three factors are; 1st secrecy, 2nd silence and 3rd judgment. Shame requires us to believe that we are alone in shame. Shame loses its power with openness and honesty, which in turn becomes supportive in our lives. When we have empathy with ourselves and others, shame cannot survive. Despite the fact that Alexander had great empathy for others, he unfortunately had almost zero empathy for himself.