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Shame is a feeling of worthlessness. It is a feeling of brokenness and defectiveness.
I made a mistake becomes I am a mistake.
It makes one feel separated from the human race. It is hidden under anger, sadness, depression, or addiction(s). It is a feeling of being exposed as helpless.
This makes them unable to make decisions and get their own needs met. They protect their own family of origin but are unable to protect themselves. They must identify with others, are unable to stand alone, enjoy being alone, or be interdependent.
They greatly fear abandonment it is at the core of their being. Having been so abandoned and neglected for so long they no longer trust anyone.
The cumulative effect of is to paralyze, imprison, and degrade.
Through continued physical, verbal, and/or emotional abuse a persons identity is destroyed and they are afraid to be themselves (whoever that is).
They will now seek to control themselves and be available to be controlled.
Shame causes a loss of identity.
Since the belief is that there is something wrong with who they are they look to others to tell them what they believe, what they like and don’t like, their politics, career choices, what to do with their free time, etc.
Growing up they were not allowed to truly be individuals to feel their own feelings, think their own thoughts, believe in their own creation. This creates identity shame.
Since they were not allowed to be who they are, there must be something wrong with them.
Shame produces physical symptoms.
The feelings they try so desperately to hide and deny come out anyway in physical manifestations. One might get headaches, stomach pains, work themselves to exhaustion, and develop hypertension. They may experience unexplained anxiety. Their bodies react even when they don’t allow their emotions to.
Shame can manifest as perfectionism.
Perfectionism is an attempt to gain the love and nurture that is so desperately wanted but never received.
Since shame says that there is something wrong with me then if I can be perfect in every way then I can be loved. Perfectionism does not allow one to be human, fail, make even small mistakes. It enslaves, causes one to feel confirmed in their negative and shameful assessment of themselves, and causes constant disappointment in their performance.
~ In Christ, Dr. Kim West
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I passed by the mirror and was surprised to see that it thought enough of me to reflect my image.
John and Linda Friel, Adult Children The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families