The Toxic Shame thread (the cause of SA for most) - Page 3 - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #41 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-11-2010, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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No actually I didn't feel shame. I was just nervous around other people. I'm a little bothered that you are trying to put words in my mouth, although I understand you feel very strongly about what you are saying.

When people have toxic shame, they generally do not realize they are feeling shameful. In fact, most people have never heard the term "toxic shame" before. They just know that there is something wrong with them that is negatively affecting their life. By saying you were/are "nervous" around people, you are saying you have anxiety around others ... isn't that correct? I just believe the reason you have this feeling around others is because of the things that happened to you when you were younger... as with most people with SA (SA being the symptom of toxic shame). Those toxic shame sources - whatever they may be for you - helped to instill your beliefs about yourself and about life that caused you to have the anxiety you are having. You really need to read the books I've recommended to get the FULL picture of everything toxic shame is about and what it can do to a person. This thread, of course, IS NOT the same thing as reading the actual books I've been talking about. I obviously am not able to include all the details here that the full-length books intended. The details are what fills in the gaps and gives a clearer picture.

In regards to me putting words in your mouth, I am just dumbfounded as to where I did this. I just echoed back what you said in your post. Was it the part in which I wrote, "If you were feeling great about yourself"... when I was referring to your mention that you said you had "high self-esteem"? Isn't that what high self-esteem is about? When a person has "high" self-esteem, then doesn't he/she feel great about himself/herself? I'm not talking about a person thinking he is a god or is better than anyone else, but that he feels "great" about himself. That is high self-esteem.


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I guess I'm just a little weirded about your enthusiasm about toxic shame. It just seems strange to me.

Yes, I admit I am very enthusiastic about this subject. In case anyone is wondering… no, I am not trying to sell any books for those authors I've talked about, in which to make them rich or whatever. And I am not profiting in any way. Let me ask you a queston: If you the knew the cause – and the cure - to a disease, wouldn’t you want to let those people know that are afflicted with the disease? If there was a forum that was devoted to that particular disease then wouldn’t you want to go there and say, “Hey, this is what’s wrong and this is what you need to do.” And wouldn’t you be passionate about getting the message out to those that desperately need it? It is just so obvious and so logical about the role toxic shame plays in SA and other emotional/psychological conditions. And because of this clear logic, that is why it is easy to conclude toxic shame affects the majority of us with SA … meaning, more than not. Whether it is 51% or on up to 99%, I don’t know the exact number, but I am confident it is at least 51%. I am so into this subject because I totally believe that toxic shame is the root cause … the underlying cause of most SA (and is the root cause of many other conditions as well). I believe this is THE most important subject - and thus, the most important thread - of this entire forum. The question shouldn't be whether my enthusiasm of discussing toxic shame is "strange", but instead, the question should be what more can we do to get everyone in this forum - and other similar forums - to seriously look into this subject, to read the books I've recommended, and to decide for themselves if this is the true problem in their life.

Maybe one of the reasons I am so passionate about this is because I've actually read the books that I've been talking about in this thread and thus I’ve got the full meaning and intentions of the authors. So, therefore I totally realize the crucial role toxic shame plays in SA, as well as many other psychological conditions. This thread just has bits and pieces and various quotes of the authors. Reading the entire books gives a more clear, full meaning to their message. I've mentioned earlier how my bad blushing problem has entirely stopped. I give full credit to learning about toxic shame, reading those books I have been referencing and following their advice. I've noticed in the past month or two that I've been making slow, but steady progression in my interactions with others and of feeling better about myself. Most of us have lived with a lifetime of toxic shame/SA, and so it is safe to say we will not be healed instantly. We all heal at a different pace; so I'm not going to make any wild claims of reading those books and a couple a weeks later being the "life of the party". However, I am certainly feeling positive about my future. It is just going to take consistent work on my part.

Anyway, the above are the reasons why I am doing everything I can to let people know that there IS a way out of this terrible affliction. You do not need to live with this "soul-murdering" condition, as John Bradshaw calls it.


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

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post #42 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-11-2010, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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I think there may be a false pride that one has to experience with shame in order to retain homeostasis.

In ways, I feel high self worth, but in a sense that is isolating, because it puts me in a place where I don't think others could understand/ grasp me.

But at the same time, I feel critical of my failures in life.. how to solve dilemmas etc. (inadequate).
Yes, I do agree that a person can create false pride in order to avoid even more pain ... or, to "retain homeostasis" as you call it. John Bradshaw goes into detail about how those of us with toxic shame create a "false self" in an attempt to keep our sanity and avoid pain. I don't mean to say that people purpusely tell themselves, "I'm going to create a false self and try to believe and become things about myself that I am not." Instead, people create a "false self" more on an automatic and subconscious level to survive -- to mentally/emotionally survive. I don't want to attempt to explain the whole thing here, but Bradshaw does a good job of explaining it in his book. It is my opinion that this is possibly the situation with Kev when he says he had high self-esteem, but still had social anxiety. I know he probably disagrees, but this is what I believe.

I think it is possible for people with TS to feel good in some areas of their life, but the overall TS in the other areas may be enough to overwhelm them and wreak havoc in their life. I don't remember one way or other other if any books I've read talked about this situation, but I think it's very plausible. Maybe that is another possible explanation for Kev.


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post #43 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-11-2010, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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Can anyone provide any studies that use toxic shame as their framework for treating anxiety?

I'm trying to be open-minded here but I've never come across any academic literature on the subject in my many years of reading about Anxiety (over a decade). I'm all for people using what works for them and if this is what does it, fine.

But here's my problem: toxic shame doesn't seem to offer anything new or innovative with regard to treating anxiety. Calling an emotion "toxic" is nearly the same as saying "chemical imbalance" (a la psychiatry) and acceptance of your flaws and yourself for what you are is something that [I]all[I] therapies try to get anxiety sufferers to do.
relyt,

I cannot recall any specific studies off the top of my head that used toxic shame as the framework for treating social anxiety. I'm not saying there's not any studies, I'm just saying I don't have any in front of me right now. I CAN tell you, however, that John Bradshaw (in his 2 books I've been referencing in my previous posts) has referenced many reseachers, psychiatrists, psychologists, as well as authors - in which they all (or at least just about all) concluded that shame plays a major role in various emotional/psychological conditions. I highly doubt that they would come to this conculsion without doing research or studies to prove that they are correct.

As for the experts knowing about toxic shame and thus, offering something new or innovative with regard to treating anxiety ... I don't know of anything particularly "new or innovative", so it's hard for me to comment on that. I do believe the work done by John Bradshaw and Dr. Robert Glover will help those of us with toxic shame and the various conditions/symptoms it causes. I think it not only comes down to following their advice, but it also boils down to good old-fashioned hard work, practice, and time itself to heal us of our TS.


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post #44 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-11-2010, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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I just want to apologize if I don't reply to everyone's post here, and this includes any future posts that are made here as well. It can become time-consuming for me when I reply to a post - let alone several posts - and that's why I may not be able to reply to everyone's post. However, I do read everybody's posts on this thread and I do appreciate everyone's input - whether I agree or disagree with your post.


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post #45 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-11-2010, 09:48 PM
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Yea, I'd say shame does play a pretty big role in this disorder.

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post #46 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-11-2010, 10:09 PM
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In fact, most people have never heard the term "toxic shame" before. They just know that there is something wrong with them that is negatively affecting their life.
Damn right! Thanks so much for making this thread. I never could define what I was feeling... Toxic shame, huh? That's a great name for it, no joke.
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post #47 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-12-2010, 11:46 AM
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I have to agree with a lot of what is said here. I have learned a lot from this post. I have to add;

I had a very dependent mother who expected me to be responsible for all of her feelings and no matter what I did, I could never fix it.

I was taught not to have personal feelings or thoughts (i.e. personality). I felt ashamed (and still do sometimes) for feeling "the wrong thing" and I don't want people to know about it.

(I can't believe I just told you all that!)

I also think that isolation (in addition to shame) leads to SA. People expect you to know certain things in a social setting, if you don't they assume you are being rude.
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post #48 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-13-2010, 06:15 PM Thread Starter
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In my forum postings in the past about toxic shame, I’ve noticed there has been some confusion among some about toxic shame being the same as regular, healthy shame. There are people here thinking: "This doesn't apply to me, I have nothing to be shameful for." Well, what you don't understand is that it is not necessarily about you being consciously shameful about anything in particular you’ve done (though, it could be - if it becomes internalized). Instead, it is about receiving shame - more on a subconscious level - from OTHER sources. It is important to know that toxic shame and “regular” shame are NOT the same thing! Or, to be more accurate, they are not exactly the same thing. They, of course, do share the same basic elements of shame. The very basic idea of feeling “shame” is a part of toxic shame, as it is with regular, healthy shame. However, there are definite differences to the point that they become two separate situations. But first, I want to talk a little about the basic concept of healthy shame in general.

Shame is a normal, healthy human emotion we all have. And thus, all shame isn't bad. In fact, it is necessary to feel shame if one is to be truly human. "Healthy" shame keeps you within healthy boundaries. A couple of examples: Healthy shame keeps you from walking around naked in public (well, I guess also the law keeps you from walking nude in public. lol). Healthy shame also makes sure you close the door when you go to the bathroom. Healthy shame helps us in many ways, not just in things involving us being naked. These are just a few of the examples of healthy shame.

However, when shame becomes toxic, then that's when it becomes BAD. As Bradshaw says, "Shame was the unconscious demon I had never acknowledged. In becoming aware of the dynamics of shame, I came to see that shame is one of the most destructive forces in all human life." (The author, John Bradshaw, was a victim of toxic shame. He has sinced recovered from it.)

Regular, healthy shame (healthy guilt) says, "I made a mistake or a blunder, and I can repair that blunder."
A toxically shamed person says, "I AM a mistake - everything I do is flawed and defective."

With toxic shame, we are no longer perfectly imperfect - we are totally imperfect.

Toxic shame is a deep belief inside of feeling ashamed of who and what you are. It is a more of a internal feeling, rather than a obvious conscious feeling. You feel ashamed of normal human feelings, emotions and actions. You don't feel like a human being. Shame, almost literally, becomes your name.

I hope I have cleared up any confusion regarding normal, “healthy” shame vs. “toxic” shame. Hopefully everyone understands the difference, and how toxic shame is the root of SA and many other emotional/psychological conditions as well.


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post #49 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-13-2010, 06:51 PM
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You are right in my opinion. It is a major key and it is exciting. However, I see it as a reason to have a relationship with God and to find forgiveness for our shame daily, to feel good and so others cannot manipulate us with how we feel.
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post #50 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 05:06 AM
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For all the people that believe in the toxic shame theorie. I would like to ask, should we focus on getting rid of shame. And what's the best way to do it?
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post #51 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 02:56 PM
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Just my opinion, but I think you need to treat it a bit like PTSD, because toxic shame is kind of traumatic, and intense stress inhibits the hippocampus, which is what gradually puts memories into long term storage throughout the brain. So you wind up with these dissociated states, outside of normal conscious control, that can get triggered in similar situations. Hence you get these intense emotional reactions to situations that you can't seem to control.

To reintegrate those circuits, you need to reexperience the traumatic situations, preferably with a good therapist, though there are some good self-therapy approaches also.

Normally, you try to avoid even thinking about these traumatic experiences, because they bring up shame, and it's really uncomfortable. But I think you need to process them, because otherwise they will remain unintegrated, and keep tripping you up.

This is based on all the reading I've done so far, and experiences with therapy.

Although to be honest, some memories I still just shut out, and don't want to even think about or talk about. I read that with PTSD they do gradual imaginal exposure, ie you just imagine the traumatic situation, but very gradually over multiple sessions, in a safe environment. So maybe doing something similar with this would help, especially for memories that are really traumatic, that you just automatically shut out.
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post #52 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-16-2010, 10:50 AM
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Just wanted to say thanks to Lifetimer for this valuable information. I have now put the two books on hold at my library. Many, many thanks.
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post #53 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-20-2010, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Just wanted to say thanks to Lifetimer for this valuable information. I have now put the two books on hold at my library. Many, many thanks.
Tasha, you're welcome!

EDIT: I have mentioned in this thread about Dr. Glover's book No More Mr Nice Guy, a book about the condition of Nice Guy Syndrome. Even though I do believe that women can learn some useful advice from Glover's book, it is primarily a book geared towards men. However, I have found out there is also a similar book for women titled Nice Girl Syndrome by Beverly Engel. Her book has received very good reviews at the Amazon website. You - as well as other women here - may want to give it a try. Here is a link to her book at the Amazon website: http://amzn.to/1j65NKY


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post #54 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-20-2010, 08:50 PM Thread Starter
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I’ve seen posts here in the forum in which people have posted things such as: “It seems we make up a name for everything. There is a ‘disorder’ for every situation.” Yes, it does seem that we have a name for everything. However, most “disorders” that we post about in this forum (Social Anxiety, Avoidant Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, etc.) are not so much separate disorders, but instead it is that they are all from the same condition – that of toxic shame. These “disorders” can be better described as symptoms of the actual problem (toxic shame).

Social Anxiety Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, borderline personality disorder, Love-shyness, paranoid and schizoid phenomena, perfectionism, depression, etc., etc -- these are all branches of toxic shame, like branches connected to a tree (with the tree being toxic shame). They all basically mesh together, with the common denominator being toxic shame.

So it is difficult to put any particular disorder in a neat, clean-cut box and say that an individual has that - and only that - “disorder”. This is why I say that, because of toxic shame, they are all of the same tree and are all related to one another. Toxic shame is the source from which these so-called "disorders" come from.

A while back I was watching Ch. 13, the PBS station here in the U.S., and there was a program of a guy - he was a psychiatrist - giving a talk about the brain and how it works. What got my attention was when he mentioned that many of the problems we give labels to - like anxiety (which was his example) - are not the problem. He then said what I’ve always thought - that “they are just symptoms”.

So yes, I believe many emotional / psychological conditons are related to each other and kind of mesh together. Many times there is no exact one condition that a person has. I don’t believe that life, in most cases, is either all black or all white. Life is often shades of gray. I believe this can even be said of toxic shame. I think there can be different degrees or levels of toxic shame. I guess what I’m trying to say is that some can have it worse than others. It’s possible some people with toxic shame may be able to function in a particular area of their life reasonably well, but another person may not be able to do well at all in that same area. People are different, yet so similar. All of this is what I mean when I say that life isn’t always either black or white. It can be somewhere in-between.

So, I think it is easy to see that people often have some form of several conditions, sort of mixed together. Toxic shame is the “grand-daddy” of most emotional / psychological conditions. Toxic shame is something that basically ties many of these conditions together. I believe most people have these conditions because of toxic shame. To show what I am talking about, I will quote in the paragraph below the author George Kaufman, from his book titled "Shame":

“Shame is the affect which is the source of many complex and disturbing inner states: depression, alienation, self-doubt, isolation, loneliness, paranoid and schizoid phenomena, compulsive disorders, splitting of the self, perfectionism, a deep sense of inferiority, inadequacy or failure, the so-called borderline conditions and disorders of narcissism."

So as you can see, there are many conditions that are toxic shame related. That is why I say toxic shame is the grand-daddy of the majority of emotional / psychological conditions. These labeled “conditions” are actually just symptoms of toxic shame.

The question is: Are you going to focus on curing the source of your problem, or are you going to continue trying to treat the symptoms?


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post #55 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-27-2010, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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Some thoughts regarding the negative effects of toxic shame:

Toxic shame is like a 500 pound ball chained to your leg that you drag around. When you try do so something, then it makes everything you do in your life that much more difficult – including your relationships and interactions with others. You are not free. You become imprisoned inside yourself.

A person who has the condition of toxic shame often will be seen as strange or “weird” and it is not unusal for him/her to be mocked & laughed at by others or to be looked down at. There are people that will laugh at you or look down on you because: you don’t interact socially well with others (“he/she is socially inept, always too quiet and passive”) … or you’ve never been in a relationship or had sex before (“he/she is a virgin! ha-ha”) … or you don’t have much of a life (“he/she doesn’t have many friends and doesn’t go out to do things. What a loser!”) … etc. This is essentially the same as if a person lost his legs in a car accident and then is laughed at by others because he can’t walk. The only difference being that those people who laugh at you probably don’t know that you have toxic shame and, therefore, don’t know that is the reason you are the way you are. But, yes, it is intrinsically the same cruel situation - when a person laughs at a toxically shamed person - as with the car accident victim I described.

These people who mock and laugh at us – either in front of us or behind our backs – just don’t understand the soul-murdering conditon of toxic shame that caused the fear, pain, and hiding that we have lived with most of our lives. They don’t understand how we have been devastated by it. If they did then they would view us differently and not see us as a “loser” or whatever. No, I’m not asking for people to cry for us. Instead, my wish is for everyone that has a “normal” life going for them and doesn’t have toxic shame, would understand why we are the way we are. It is much better to have support from others for what we are going through than to be laughed at and looked at as “weird”. If these people had gone through what we’ve been through, then they could easily be in the same position we are in.

A big reason these (for a lack of a better word) “normal” people are not in the same position we are in is because they were lucky enough to received the positive mirroring eyes of others to help see themselves in a good light and to build their self-worth. As I detailed earlier in this thread, we were not so lucky in that regard. From whatever the source was in each of our individual cases, and with the fact that even though it wasn’t our fault, we happened to unfortunately receive the negative, shaming mirror eyes of that source. And one of the effects of toxic shame is that we generally never learned the proper way to “be” or how to act in life situations. Most of us never really learned any social skills to speak of and we are, for the most part, na´ve in many things.

Yes, John Bradshaw was absolutely correct when he stated toxic shame is “a soul-murdering condition”. As Bradshaw says, “Toxic shame is unbearable and always necessitates a cover-up, a false self. Since one feels his true self is defective and flawed, one needs a false self that is not defective and flawed. Once one becomes a false self, one ceases to exist psychologically. To be a false self is to cease being an authentic human being.”
If you don’t fully understand this statement, read Bradshaw’s book Healing The Shame That Binds You for a better explanation regarding this aspect of how we create a false self in an attempt for our mental and emotional survival. In fact, Bradshaw’s book - as well as the book by Dr. Robert Glover I talked of earlier in this thread – is a book that is crucial, required reading for everyone here to help heal yourself of this terrible condition.


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post #56 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-27-2010, 08:04 PM
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This is an interesting subject and I do agree at least for myself that this is a problem for me. I Think originally I had a teacher who used to scream at us in Kindergarten. Being very sensitive I took it all personally, which produced shame. At least in school. I guess that's why for the most part the SA was confined to school.
But then when things got worse at 13, and I was actually shamed for being unable to communicate. They the school social workers basically told me I should not be who I am. Maybe that's why it spread out of school. It was as if society was judging and rejecting me. So, deep shame there. And I definately have been focusing on this as a major part of my therapy. I've never heard of it called toxic shame before. I guess we've used other terms. But I do feel the more I learn to accept myself warts and all the better I feel.
I read a lot about Zen lately and meditating which helps. Probably because it deals with accepting what is, and not judging your feelings.
I intend to look up these books you listed. Thank you for listing them.
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post #57 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-27-2010, 08:27 PM
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i think i suffer from toxic guilt.... good advice though.
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post #58 of 634 (permalink) Old 10-04-2010, 06:15 PM Thread Starter
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There are a multitude of motivational/self-help material on the market. I am no stranger to these self-help books and audios. There are many good self-help motivational books/authors out there: Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, Denis Waitley, Les Brown, etc. I have books and audios by all these gurus … as well as many other self-help gurus. As John Bradshaw said, “shame-based people buy hundreds of books in an effort to heal their pain” … And this was exactly what I was doing before finding out about toxic shame. Most all of these gurus produce good books with good information. HOWEVER, their motivational programs and books never did … never could … and never will solve my toxic shame problem. And they will not solve the problem of anyone else with toxic shame. (Of course, there is always “the one in every crowd” person that may benefit from these gurus. But in general, they will not solve our problem). Sure, they may temporarily make us feel better, but in the long run they will not cure our problem. This is because they do not get to the root of our problem. And as I mentioned before, the root of our problem is toxic shame.

This is where the books by John Bradshaw and Dr. Robert Glover come into play. These books most definitely DO get to the root of our problem. These books are specifically written to deal with our problem … the condition of toxic shame and all it’s symptoms – like social anxiety, avoidant personality disorder, depression, the so-called borderline conditions, perfectionism, etc.

We need to deal with our actual problem, otherwise we will continue to be mired in our pain and stay stuck in our toxic shame. We need to break free to the life we were meant to have. We see people everyday living the life that we should also be living: high self-esteem, confidence, lots of friends, having a significant other … basically, having an overall meaningful, satisfying life. Is there any reason why we deserve less than those people? As Jan Luckingham Fable says in her article titled Shame, you need to realize that “no one person is intrinsically better or worse than anyone else.” So know that it’s not a case of other people being ‘better’ than we are and thus deserving a quality life. Again, another quote from Ms. Fable: “Embrace the belief that each person belongs to the human race, that no person is totally shameful or subhuman--nor is anyone a god--different from everyone else.” Nobody is ‘better’ than we are. We are just as worthy as anyone else and deserve a worthwhile, meaningful life just as anyone else. So, yes, embace this belief to begin facilitating the healing of your TS.


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post #59 of 634 (permalink) Old 10-04-2010, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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In my above post, I mentioned Jan Luckingham Fable’s short article about toxic shame. She does a very good job of explaining what toxic shame is and how it affects us. I recommend everyone read the article, of which I copied and pasted in another thread in this forum. Please click this link to read the article: http://tinyurl.com/2cskcxn


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post #60 of 634 (permalink) Old 10-09-2010, 12:58 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2009
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Age: 32
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I totally believe in he toxic shame thing, but I'm a bit stuck in the process of finding people that will be trustful and accept full to me. This is something you can almost never know before meeting someone. So to some degree I guess I have to take risks by just being more outgoing, and hopefully found someone who I can trust.

How do others of you experience this?
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