Social Anxiety Forum - View Single Post - The Toxic Shame thread (the cause of SA for most)
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-22-2010, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
SAS Member
Join Date: May 2004
Gender: Male
Posts: 614
In the post above I talked about toxic shame, what it is, and it’s direct relation to most of us with SA. I also talked about the aspects of fear and hiding in which this condition causes in us. In this post I will talk about some of the sources (the various sources from which we received our toxic shame).

The major sources of Toxic Shame

There are many ways to acquire toxic shame. However, the most common way is through your parents (though, not the only way). Obviously, your parents (or guardians) are who you learned about yourself and about life from the most, during your critical early years. As a child, parents can shame you through their - the parents - repeated words or actions of making you feel you are not quite smart enough, or attractive enough, or that you can't do things for yourself, etc. Or maybe they, for whatever reason, are indifferent towards you and rarely hug you or show affection towards you. Often, negative actions and messages towards victims of toxic shame were communicated overtly by parents who had no concern for the child’s welfare. Some were communicated indirectly by caring parents who themselves were too young, overwhelmed, or distracted to provide a nurturing environment for their child. At times, these messages were communicated by circumstances that were beyond anyone’s control. It is important to know that many times our parents can be wounded souls themselves. Whatever the reason, they might not do it on purpose and they often don't realize they are doing it, but YOU realize it ... if only on a subconscious level. And all this usually happens at the most critical time in which you are forming your identity - as a young child. The mirroring eyes you received from dysfunctional parents/or guardians ends up being negative and distorted towards you and causes you to see yourself – and usually life as well - in the wrong way.

Parents aren't the only ones that can play a role in you acquiring this "soul-murdering" condition (as John Bradshaw calls it). It can also be caused by your peers, school systems, religious systems, the media or possibly society in general, or even a traumatic event. As Michael Pilinski says in his book Without Embarrassment:

"Toxic shame can be insidious. It’s really a stealth form of abuse, so subtle that I suspect neither the abuser or “abusee” often know that it’s even happening! How could I have understood at the age of 4 that I was being programmed to feel ashamed of my most basic human emotional needs?"

But regardless of whether one was abused, abandoned, neglected, shamed, used, smothered, controlled, or objectified, all people with toxic shame internalized the same belief – it was a bad or dangerous thing for them to be just who they were. And because of this belief, they (or rather, “you”) developed defense mechanisms to cope. Your acute shyness is one such common defense mechanism. John Bradshaw goes into more detail about the defense mechanisms in 2 of his books: Healing The Shame That Binds You (Revised Edition, October 2005) and Bradshaw On: The Family: A New Way of Creating Solid Self-Esteem.

In my next post below, I will go into what can help heal your toxic shame, and thus, your social anxiety.

"Shyness can be a serious problem when it is rooted in toxic shame." - John Bradshaw, toxic shame expert

Visit this thread link to find out the cause of SA for most of us and what to do about it:
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