Steps to overcome toxic shame in 2019

In my over 30 years working with people as a therapist and a coach, shame, and particularly, toxic shame, is at the root of more issues than any other emotion.  It is also the thorniest emotion for many people as they have no idea how to rid themselves of shame. Many cultures imbue sexual activity and sexual relationships with layers and layers of shame.   Unpicking cultural and familial patterns of shame often takes patience, courage and tenacity.

We experience shame when we cannot own something we have thought, felt, or done or some part of ourselves.  Guilt can be appropriate when we have done something we know is wrong and harmed ourselves and/or others. It serves the purpose of getting us to look at the wrong and highlighting the wrong so that we can make amends, change our behaviour/ Shame is toxic.  It comes from conditioning via our upbringing, via our cultural group, via the overarching society.    This shame doesn’t serve a purpose. It keeps us trapped and makes it impossible for us to live in fullness and authenticity.  The difference between shame and guilt: Shame is ‘I am bad/wrong’ and guilt is ‘My behaviour is bad/wrong’.

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