Hello and welcome back to Second Chance to Live. I am happy to see that you decided to stop by to visit with me. Thank you. As I recently shared on a radio program, I did not begin to accept the reality of the impact of my traumatic brain injury until I was 46 years old – although my traumatic brain injury occurred when I was 10 years old. Consequently, for many years I internalized the difficulties that I encountered as a reflection of being bad and defective. I found myself being blamed, shamed, scapegoated, criticized and berated for not being able to get it right. Little did I know that I was doing the best I could because I carried a tremendous amount of shame for not being able to get “things” right. Little did I know that my inability to get things right was not all about me.
As I shared on the radio program I started attending several 12 Step recovery programs some 25 years ago. I started attending these meetings – not because my parents were alcoholics because neither had a drinking problem – but because a friend suggested that I may benefit from the meetings. My friend was right and during the past several decades I have learned a tremendous amount about myself. Although I had no idea how the affects of my traumatic brain injury impacted my life, I discovered why I reacted to life. With my ongoing awareness, I was and have been able to make changes – with the grace of a loving God – to enhance my life. In the next several articles, I will share some of those life changing awareness’s with you my friend.
Several years ago I wrote the below article. Because of the length of the article and the above introduction, I have divided this article into several parts. Below is the 1st part of the article.
Whose Shame are you Carrying? Part 1
Hi, and welcome back to Second Chance to Live. I am happy that you decided to stop by and visit. I want to share something with you that has helped me. My motivation is to provide insights to the parents that read my blog. My motive is to provide awareness. The beauty in living is that we can make a decision to change our behavior at any time. The process of behavior modification usually begins with awareness that is followed by acceptance and results in action. Awareness provides the opportunity to address whatever is not in our best interest or in the best interest of the people we love. Acceptance acts like a balm to soften the walls of our resistance and bring us to a place of action. The action that we take provides the momentum that resolves our guilt and shame.
When parents do not deal with their shame and guilt, they make their children carry it for them. In many instances, the shame transfer is a learned behavior that is passed from one generation to the next. Through my recovery process, I have learned many valuable lessons. One of the most valuable lessons is that I am not responsible for anyone’s shame or guilt. I do not have to carry the burden of another persons unresolved guilt or shame. Each person is given an opportunity to learn and grow from his or her individual experiences. If they chose to avoid or deny the reasons for their irritability, restlessness and discontentment, I do not have to absorb their pain. Debilitating guilt and debilitating shame can only be resolved through rigorous honesty and a commitment to personal accountability.
In transactional analysis there is an expression that sums up such a process. It goes something like this; we will work it in, work it out, or project it onto other people through blame, shame, or scapegoating. As I understand this concept, when a person chooses to work it in, they chose to deny that they have shame and guilt and act as though it does not exist. When a person represses shame and guilt, addictive behavior is frequently used to avoid responsibility. When people chose to work it out, they become involved in a recovery process / program to identify and repair the reasons for that shame and guilt. The last option involves passing the responsibility for his or her shame and guilt onto anyone that is willing to be abused. Transactional analysis sums up the last behavior as passing the “hot potato”. This last option involves making someone else the reason why they experience their shame and guilt.
To read Part 2 of this article, please click A Very Important Question — Whose Shame are you Carrying? Part 2
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