Thursday, January 30, 2014

PART 1: How to Rise Above Negative Emotion

Wow. This is a difficult article to write. Why? Because there is not one answer to it. Rising above negative emotion that stems from the root of childhood abuse and neglect is a complicated process, one that requires everything you've got--and more.

The biggest issue is that being neglected, abandoned, abused or mistreated as a child causes your identity to be wrought in SHAME. The opposite of love, affection, attention is shame. When a child does not get its developmental needs met, the natural by-product is shame. Shame is a horrible, disgusting, terrible feeling that broods beneath the surface and shapes everything you say and do. I can't tell you how badly shame makes you feel. If you're reading this article, you likely know--though you may not have a handle on it.

Parts of me that I thought were me, the parts that made me feel worthless, I found out through my healing journey were not me at all.  It was shame. The revelation changed my life forever. There were so many ways I was held back by an intense feeling of shame--that I never knew was there, until I rose above it by being mindful of every feeling and thought that I felt.

Shame. I'll never forget when I first came face-to-face with this unruly beast. I'm not talking about your normal shame, that for feeling badly for something you've done in the presence of a social group--that kind of shame is reasonable, manageable and normal. No big deal. No, I'm talking about the kind of shame that rots you out to the core--makes you sit down when you should stand. Keeps you locked behind closed doors, handcuffed in a world while crying cause it's passing you by. TOXIC SHAME.

Toxic Shame is a type of shame you don't deserve. It's the type of shame that is the by-product of neglect, abandonment and abuse of childhood. If you experienced a bad childhood and you know it, and you haven't dealt with your shame, I feel very sorry for you. I know exactly how you feel and it sucks and it hurts and you may not even realize it. Pain hides in such strange ways. It makes you kick yourself... little do you know, you don't deserve it. It's shame that's not yours.

Anyway. Toxic shame is what occurs when a parent acts shamelessly by passing their shameful behavior (that of neglect, abuse or whatever) onto you without remorse. It's a long story. Whenever someone passes that stuff onto you, your caretaker--who DOES NOT REALIZE what he or she is doing... they are only reacting and re-enacting their own abuse--they are passing on shame that does not belong to you. IT'S NOT YOURS. But, as a small child, your only recourse is to take the blame. You believe you're worthless. You embrace their shame as if it is your own. Why? Because ...

You're tiny.
You're vulnerable.
You have no protection.

You're mind is protecting you from realizing that you are being raised by incompetent people.

Our minds are pre-wired to protect us from the harms of poorly functioning adults. In order to protect us from the realization that we are unloved as children (unloved in the sense that we're not loved with true, adequate love), our brains internalize the flaws of our parents. Our brains internalize the flaws that our parents can't face. Our little, developing brains internalize the projections of our parents. Stuff they can't deal with, we, as little vulnerable children gulp down. We take all the stuff they can't because we MUST BELIEVE THEY ARE PERFECT in order to develop psychologically.

You see, believing that we're worthless is a defense mechanism against insanity. Evolution tells us (or whatever that is) that our brains are wired to protect ourselves from the lack of love. Babies who don't get adequate love can die--ACTUALLY DIE. Therefore we are hard wired to become delusional if our primary caretakers are incapable of giving us the real love we need. We pretend in our little minds that the abusive caretaker is perfect, and we, believe that we--instead of them--are the devil personified. We take on their shame. This is TOXIC SHAME. It is not ours, but we put it on. We don it in order to delude ourselves into thinking that they love us, when in fact they do not, cannot and will not. It is not their fault, nor is it ours.

SHAME. I'm trying to write an article about how to overcome negative emotion, but I cannot do so unless I describe to you the presence of shame, and help you to know what it is. In order to get rid of the most troublesome emotion of all time, you must first know it is there.

I found shame in places I never knew it could be found. I still find it from time to time. Look for it. It's lurking. It's hanging out around every corner. Every time you feel badly, shame--toxic shame--is the culprit. So much to say. My fingers hurt. Next time, I'll share more. Much love. Good luck in your journey. Rise above shame by first recognizing it.

Awareness is Key

If you want to rise above the negative emotion, you must first recognize it is there. You may uncover negative emotion in a million ways, just under the surface. I love this article by another writer which defines it well regarding the patterns of self-hatred. Feelings of unworthiness may hide beneath the surface and be tricky to find... but once you open to learning the truth about your feelings, to honoring and respecting your feelings and to start being mindful of your self-talk, you will start to unravel your feelings and find the root of its cause.

More later....

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