As Robert Bly said, the antidote to shame is to get closer to the wildman or wildwoman inside us.
To grow up in a shame family, where the value taught was to be afraid, to be put down, less than, is in itself a wounding. Shame can be felt, verbalized, modelled and inherited.
We all have it. Often it is so pervasive, or part of our fractured self. It is felt but not truly acknowledged. We end up living alone, isolated, and afraid because shame is so powerful and profoundly painful. So much suffering has its roots in shame.
“I realized I was a shame person, and my family was a shame family.”– Robert Bly
In guilt, if you made a mistake, you can apologize for it. You don’t take the mistake in a personal way. In shame, the mistake is seen as a failure of your quality, or a reflection of your brokenness and inadiquacy.
It’s also possible to be addicted to shame. There can be a powerful and charged experience, and even a relief experience when going into intense shame. It is simply the feeling that you know.
Unfortuately, when we are overly shamed, we may withdraw, become angry and isolated, or become contemptious and put others down. All of this only serves to further create suffering, harm, and disconnection in our lives and in the larger world.
Therapy can help you to learn how to become more deeply aware of this, accept this, no longer allow others to shame you, and finally to heal it. Through connecting deliberatly and consciousnessly to those rejected parts of yourself you can begin to internalize that you are enough and worthy. Once the need to compensate for the shame is identified (perfectionism, power, manipulation, etc), you will be empowered to live your life to its fullest potential.