I think those of us with toxic shame (most everyone here) tend to have our personality stunted by it. I’ve always felt I’ve never had much of a personality from the start. And the reason I feel like I've never had much of a personality from the start isn't because I was "just born that way", but instead it is because of my lifetime of toxic shame (with social anxiety being a major symptom and toxic shame the cause, as with most people here). The condition robbed me of ever developing a real personality - the personality I should've had. I, as many of you here, have always been in hiding from not only everyone in the world, but from myself as well. I was always hiding my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I've never felt as an equal to other human beings. All of this, of course, led to me shutting down myself and hiding myself (my personality). And thus, my personality never had a real chance to develop and grow. Does any of this sound personally familiar?
The good news is that, since I've found out about the condition of toxic shame, I have improved immensely regarding my social anxiety. The social anxiety itself is not a problem anymore for me. For example, here is some hard physical evidence of my improvement: I used to have a bad, bad blushing problem. I would blush from just having a normal conversation/interaction with another person. So, yes, the blushing had become a major problem … to the point that I didn’t want to talk to people anymore for fear that I would begin to blush. I was afraid they would look at me as if I had mental problems. And this had became a daily, very embarrassing problem for me. However, since learning about the condition and following the advice of authors John Bradshaw and Dr. Robert Glover (I have talked about these authors and their books previously in this thread), I have completely stopped blushing! To me this is unquestionable physical evidence that my toxic shame is beginning to heal. I still don't feel I am completely healed of it yet, but I definitely have made major progress and I expect to continue to make progress.
As with just about anything - physical or mental - healing takes time and gradual improvement, bit by bit; it won't happen overnight. What I mean is: it isn’t like one day a person has toxic shame and the next day he is completely cured, as if someone flipped a switch. It really is a process – a very gradual process. As you begin to heal from your toxic shame, the lines can become a bit blurred as you gradually go from having toxic shame - to healing your toxic shame. At that point you will begin to wonder if you are 100% toxic shame free, or if any uncomfort level you are now feeling is that of lacking confidence in your social skills and life experience. IF it is just a case of lacking confidence and feeling uncomfortable in these areas, then that has nothing to do with still having TS. You can be 100% free of your TS but still lack confidence in these areas. It is these areas you have never previously develop because of your TS. And realize you are essentially changing from one person to another, and THAT is why it takes a good amount of time.
My main problem now is that of not having a personality/social skills. Even though SA is no longer a real problem for me, I still have a big problem in interacting with others the way most other "completely normal, well-adjusted" people do. Practically all people that never had SA/toxic shame managed to develop a personality of some sort that they go with. And so I think most "normal" people have a set way (or a set mode) in which they automatically know how to act/behave in many situations. They have their personality set to act in a particular way that works for them. This is because since they were fortunate enough to not be afflicted with SA/toxic shame, they were able to grow and develop their personality. I, on the other hand, don’t know what “type” of person I am – or how to act in many situations. I don’t feel I have a set mode in which my “personality” automatically kicks in and knows what to do … especially in social situations. I know without a doubt that, because of my toxic shame, that my personality/social skills has stunted and hasn't been able to develop and grow as it should have. So even though I no longer live with fear and anxiety, I still feel awkward around people -- BUT for the reason of not having the social skills to interact easily with them and to "fit in". This is something I feel will take a lot of work and practice on my part... to build up a personality and build the social skills that I've never had a chance to build.
Another consequence of not having any real personality and/or not being a certain type of person is: What kind of friends should I have? What type of people should I hang out with? I really don't know. Should I have friends who are the "goody-goody" type? Should I have friends who are wild, loud, foul-mouthed, and like to drink a lot? Should I hang out with nerdy people? As I said, I feel like I don't know who I REALLY am, and so I don't know what kind of people I should hang out with.
I guess it's just a consequence of toxic shame that I am going to have to figure out myself.
"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: http://bit.ly/UeWprg