Shame Toxicity

freedom-589576__340Anyone who knows my work as a therapist knows that I am on a crusade to eradicate shame. If you read my series on the “Flesh” than you know that I believe there are psychological and spiritual principles that demonstrate both the ineffectiveness of shame to motivate and the toxic nature of chronic shame in a person’s life.

I lived most of my life in shame’s grip and had my own relationship with God twisted by it. I’ve seen it at the root of many, if not all, of the varied issues that people come into therapy for. Decades ago, giants in the field of psychology and Christianity like David Seamands and Bruce Narramore saw shame and guilt as roads to addiction, perfectionism, legalism, and pain.aids-1886383__340

Like the Galatians, we still struggle to fully experience the truth that there is NO CONDEMNATION for those in Christ Jesus. Along those lines, I thought I would just list a few thoughts from my experiences working with others and myself in this area. The toxic nature of shame:

  1. Shame turns inspiration into accusation

  2. Shame turns bad situations into blame

  3. Shame takes compliments and twists them into misunderstandings

  4. Shame makes an action your identity

  5. Shame turns conviction into an obsession for absolution

I’d love to hear about your journey and struggles with shame. What were your successes and failures? How have you noticed shame work in your life and what ways have you found to combat it? I welcome your questions, laments, and suggestions. Please share your experiences with the enemy of grace.

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5 responses to “Shame Toxicity

  1. I guess it is shame that has ruled my life. I was sexually abused by my father and ignored a lot by my perfectionist mother. I’ve never felt I belong anywhere and have felt ashamed to just be me. I have social phobia and great fear of making a mistake, which has meant I didn’t work for 30 years. Thank God my husband understands.

    I have gone to therapy a few times. Had to stop when the insurance ran out each time. I dissociate on occasion. Very embarrassing. 2 suicide attempts.

    My successes? Well, I learned to embrace myself for who I am. I am not ashamed of having a mental illness; in fact, it was my father who was crazy, not me. What I have is a normal reaction to being abused and threatened by a father.

    I have learned not to lean on others to fill my heart. It is asking for more than they have to give. Even those who love me can’t make me well. I have found that kind of friendship and love with God. I know not everyone believes in Him, but for me, when I gave up on people being what I needed and spent every day pouring my feelings and thoughts to God, my life became happier and more contented.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about the pain that you’ve gone through. I’m encouraged to hear that God has provided a loving husband and that you have learned to embrace who you are. It is wonderful to know that you can lean on God and go to Him. I pray for your continued healing and experience of His grace and unconditional love in your life.

  2. Really enjoyed this. I took a psychology class once and heard, “When people feel guilty they can become better. But shame takes away all positivity out of a bad situation.” I feel this applies as well. God can use many situations we go through to rebuke us, and refine us. But shame is crippling. God helped me years ago understand I was ashamed of myself, and when I realized it, I worked on giving Him my shame, fears, and doubts tied with it. 🙂

    • Thank you! YES! Shame is absolutely crippling. That is the horrible secret of shame, it is a hatred of parts of ourselves. Shame prompts us to hide and keeps us from His love. I’m so glad that God helped you uncover the lies of shame motivation. Thanks for reading 🙂

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