The toxic power of “Shame”
In itself, shame is not a bad thing – it is a normal human emotion. In fact, it is necessary to feel some shame to be truly human. Shame tells us about our limits and keeps us within safe boundaries, letting us know that we can and will make mistakes as we grow and when we might need to ask for help. Our shame tells us that we are indeed human and, of course, far from perfect: healthy shame is therefore the psychological foundation of true humility.
The trouble is when shame, a healthy human emotion, is transformed into shame as a state of being, that it becomes unbearable, taking on an identity of its own, totally toxic and de-humanising. It necessitates a cover-up of the false sense of self. One’s true self is seen as defective and flawed and therefore ceases to exist – toxic shame, in effect, destroys the function of our authentic selves.
The metaphorical use of Adam & Eve suddenly “finding their shame” in the Garden of Eden describes the whole essence of the human condition perfectly: they were ok with their nakedness, they had nothing to hide and could be perfectly honest about all things, just as we see in our own babies and little tots today. Unconditional love and acceptance of ourselves seems to be the hardest thing for us as humans. Refusing to accept our real selves, we end up creating more powerful false selves or worse still, become less than human. This results in a lifetime of cover-up, secrecy and hiding behind all manner of skeletons in cupboards, deceit and intrigue, the basic cause of all human suffering that can present itself in many a therapy room.
Total self-love and acceptance is the only foundation for happiness and for finding love for others. Without this, we are doomed to the task of expending masses of wasted energy in the continual creation of a false self. Toxic shame can be seen everywhere, insidiously cunning, powerful and totally baffling. In Harry Potter language, its power resides in its darkness and secrecy. By refusing to accept our true selves for what we really are means we stay bound by its horrors.
Visualise only the good, listen to only the good, speak only the good and feel only the good to find your true way in life as being the right way that was meant for you.