The Toxic Shame thread (the cause of SA for most) - Page 31 - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #601 of 634 (permalink) Old 11-30-2016, 01:26 PM
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this is the best post on here! the only one that really matters.
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post #602 of 634 (permalink) Old 12-25-2016, 10:39 PM
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It's been over 20 years that I've been struggling with SA, but in the last 2 years I've begun realizing that shame or false guilt is at the center of this. I'm going to take your advice, read those books, & continue working with my therapist also. Tonight, I feel a new hope. Thank You! I hope this does become a "sticky"
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post #603 of 634 (permalink) Old 12-27-2016, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AdaraGazelle View Post
It's been over 20 years that I've been struggling with SA, but in the last 2 years I've begun realizing that shame or false guilt is at the center of this. I'm going to take your advice, read those books, & continue working with my therapist also. Tonight, I feel a new hope. Thank You! I hope this does become a "sticky"
AdraGazelle,

I am glad you have found out about the subject of shame and I'm glad you have found this thread. In addition to working with your therapist, you may also want to implement my Toxic Shame Healing Plan. If you haven't seen it yet then go to post #500 of this thread to read about it and to get the link to it.

By the way, AdraGazelle, I have good news. This thread has FINALLY been awarded the status of a "Sticky"! I have commented in detail about it in post #589 of this thread. I definitely feel that it should have been a sticky several years ago, but better late than never... I suppose.


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"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
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post #604 of 634 (permalink) Old 01-02-2017, 07:49 PM
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Dear Lifetimer,

Please allow me to express my deepest thanks to your work in this thread and the education you bring to people here about toxic shame. I myself have recently discovered the toxic shame concept (hopefully not to late) and I feel this is so true for the most aspects of my life. It kind of appalls me and makes me angry why some people, even in this thread, try to discount your elaborations - it does not help anyone!!!

...

Further my take on the biology factor - this is for those who say SA it is due to "messed up wiring":
I have a bit of a background in microbiology and my opinion on this one is, that I do not believe that our DNA holds the necessary information, or that it would be possible via it to form neural connections to let people develop social anxiety or a number of other personality disorders. While in some conditions such as autism or schizophrenia deformations in the brain matter can bee seen in MRIs, I have never heard of this to be true for SA. In the case of schizophrenia DNA sequences have been found that seem to be linked to Dopamine related problems.

But how would that look like for people with SA?
In order to be afraid of people, our eyes/brain must see people, recall memories associated with them, evaluate these memories, and draw a conclusion. Now let's imagine that experiences SA sufferers made with people where bad for the most of their life (subtle and not-so subtle), starting with e.g. harsh parenting, mean siblings or peers → bullying !!!, mean teachers and little positive social experiences overall, our brain has learned: "people are dangerous"! Trauma / toxic shame is born. This is plain logic!

I do not believe that DNA could hold the information to cause nerve cells to form a pattern that would lead to the aforementioned result of this scenario (starting at the development of the embryo). This imho would be too complex and could not be achieved through DNA-to-tissue synthesis alone. The tissue would have to "talk" through RNA and proteins/pathways to develop this complex pattern in the brain. For at least the little I know about microbiology I do not see that this would be possible.
It could be possible that certain SA people might have issues with certain neurotransmitters or problems with cell receptors that could lead to a heightened state of anxiety overall, which could be linked to DNA, however again SA could not be formed via such a complex tissue organization aka inherited "messed up wiring".

Medication and drugs basically interfere with neurotransmitters, cell receptors, proteins, pathways in neural cells, however could most likely not cause "healing".

But please don't cite me on this one. xD

I also recommend the naysayers to inform themselves about Complex PTSD.

Just my 2 c, Have all a good day
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post #605 of 634 (permalink) Old 01-02-2017, 08:55 PM
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post #606 of 634 (permalink) Old 01-05-2017, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 23487z23590 View Post
Dear Lifetimer,

Please allow me to express my deepest thanks to your work in this thread and the education you bring to people here about toxic shame. I myself have recently discovered the toxic shame concept (hopefully not to late) and I feel this is so true for the most aspects of my life. It kind of appalls me and makes me angry why some people, even in this thread, try to discount your elaborations - it does not help anyone!!!

...

Further my take on the biology factor - this is for those who say SA it is due to "messed up wiring":
I have a bit of a background in microbiology and my opinion on this one is, that I do not believe that our DNA holds the necessary information, or that it would be possible via it to form neural connections to let people develop social anxiety or a number of other personality disorders. While in some conditions such as autism or schizophrenia deformations in the brain matter can bee seen in MRIs, I have never heard of this to be true for SA. In the case of schizophrenia DNA sequences have been found that seem to be linked to Dopamine related problems.

But how would that look like for people with SA?
In order to be afraid of people, our eyes/brain must see people, recall memories associated with them, evaluate these memories, and draw a conclusion. Now let's imagine that experiences SA sufferers made with people where bad for the most of their life (subtle and not-so subtle), starting with e.g. harsh parenting, mean siblings or peers → bullying !!!, mean teachers and little positive social experiences overall, our brain has learned: "people are dangerous"! Trauma / toxic shame is born. This is plain logic!

I do not believe that DNA could hold the information to cause nerve cells to form a pattern that would lead to the aforementioned result of this scenario (starting at the development of the embryo). This imho would be too complex and could not be achieved through DNA-to-tissue synthesis alone. The tissue would have to "talk" through RNA and proteins/pathways to develop this complex pattern in the brain. For at least the little I know about microbiology I do not see that this would be possible.
It could be possible that certain SA people might have issues with certain neurotransmitters or problems with cell receptors that could lead to a heightened state of anxiety overall, which could be linked to DNA, however again SA could not be formed via such a complex tissue organization aka inherited "messed up wiring".

Medication and drugs basically interfere with neurotransmitters, cell receptors, proteins, pathways in neural cells, however could most likely not cause "healing".

But please don't cite me on this one. xD

I also recommend the naysayers to inform themselves about Complex PTSD.

Just my 2 c, Have all a good day
Hi 23487z23590,

What you have written is very interesting and makes a lot of sense. It is logical that it takes specific experiences and beliefs to develop SA & toxic shame, as you have basically pointed out. But a lot of people have the mistaken belief that they were simply "born with it" and "that's who I just am". Maybe it could be possible that there are some people that - due to their DNA or biology - that maybe they are a bit more sensitive to when things happen to them, in comparison to others. I'm not totally ruling that out. But even if that is true then it still doesn't mean they are automatically born with SA or toxic shame. I know you didn't specifically claim it to be the case, but I am just making that point in general. My whole point is that I don't think people are born with SA or toxic shame. I think it is their environment and/or parents and/or other factors that is the ultimate source of their toxic shame and the beliefs they acquired (I talk about all these factors on page 1 of this thread).

Thanks again for your interesting post.


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"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
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post #607 of 634 (permalink) Old 01-06-2017, 04:46 PM
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I feel like not only does SA stem from this, but I have GAD as well and definitely relate to this.

For example, I missed my doctor appointment today and the first words out of my mouth were "I'm such a worthless piece of ****" instead of a normal person saying "oh i'll just reschedule" hah!
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post #608 of 634 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 11:18 AM
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I agree. My SA does stem from the belief that me as a person is simply no good. Not smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough, wealthy enough, cool enough etc etc. I've always had this belief when I was very young and as I got older being bullied and rejected by my peers increased and reinforced those beliefs. Alongside not receiving the emotional support and understanding I needed from my parents. Shame is the right word. I'm ashamed of my physical appearance, I'm ashamed of my poor circumstances, my lack of social skills, years of depression, etc etc. & at times I simply do not feel worthy of anyone's friendship and or empathy. I'm afraid of truly letting people in and opening up because I am ashamed of my whole pathetic life. I didn't just cover up and hide things I didn't like about myself or my life. I would flat out lie about my life to fit in and wound up being miserable and losing myself in the process. I wish I could just start all over. Sigh.
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post #609 of 634 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 01:38 AM
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post #610 of 634 (permalink) Old 06-13-2017, 08:31 AM
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Reading this has definitely got me looking into the past and wondering where the toxic shamin begun. I feel like my self esteem and confidence is soo much higher compared to high school a couple of years ago. My skin (dermatillomania caused from anxiety) has cleared up. I can't tell where this has begun because I have always been anxious. In fact, I used to faint if I hear helicopters, planes, thunder & fireworks as a baby/toddler. Always not speaking unless spoken to.

This also makes me continuously wonder...did the depression come as a result of anxiety or did the anxiety come as a result of depression??


I think that alongside toxic shaming is someone who perceives reality too much within themselves inside of being in the present moment. I am too busy thinking about how people are perceiving me instead of even perceiving them. I am thinking of what will I say rather than interpreting what someone has just said to me. I am also socially anxious because I feel like it is wrong that I am a loner, like being alone, and don't want to talk to most people. This leaves me feeling shame because I should want to get out there and talk to people and yet I know that I am lonely. Also knowing that I am anxious just makes me more anxious hahah it sucks.
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post #611 of 634 (permalink) Old 06-16-2017, 05:14 AM
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I think it's my physical appearance and my poor posture as well as my voice/diction that causes my SA
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post #612 of 634 (permalink) Old 08-19-2017, 07:29 PM
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Wow, I just read your post and it seems that I have toxic shame to a very high degree. Despite what many tell me, my mind cherry picks a few mistakes I made from my past along with false memories of events that never happened to try to prove I'm a bad person, and I go along with it. Now that I know what toxic shame is, I'm going to start asking my therapist about it, along with reading up more on this issue. I hope in time I can alleviate some of this "toxic shame" as it's known. Thank you so much for this post and addressing attention to this! Have a fantastic week Lifetimer!
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post #613 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-01-2017, 02:35 PM
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Thank you so much for the information on this thread. I'm not sure if the OP is still active on the forums but I sent a PM and would be grateful for the TS program to work over my own shame that I've built up since I was a child.
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post #614 of 634 (permalink) Old 09-27-2017, 12:57 AM
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Wow, I just read your post and it seems that I have toxic shame to a very high degree. Despite what many tell me, my mind cherry picks a few mistakes I made from my past along with false memories of events that never happened to try to prove I'm a bad person, and I go along with it. Now that I know what toxic shame is, I'm going to start asking my therapist about it, along with reading up more on this issue. I hope in time I can alleviate some of this "toxic shame" as it's known. Thank you so much for this post and addressing attention to this! Have a fantastic week Lifetimer!
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This is exactly what I have come to realize for myself. I always cherry pick memories with negative emotions attached to them, and, more importantly, I even interpret neutral or generally positive experiences as being negative and painful.

It's something that really makes no logical sense, and I've been trying to understand why my brain works like this for a very long time. Honestly, I think the concept of "toxic shame" may be one of the most important keys to understanding social anxiety.

Everybody wants to go to heaven
But nobody wants to die
I can't fear death, no longer
I've died a thousand times
Why explore the universe
When we don't know ourselves?
There's an emptiness inside our heads
That no one dares to dwell
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post #615 of 634 (permalink) Old 10-04-2017, 03:42 PM
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Dysfunctional methods of coping with toxic shame:


Im adding this because there are several people who cant understand how Toxic Shame can be the root of their problem, and were describing their situation. To me their situation closely resembled the dysfunctional method of coping with it by "fighting it".


There are three DYS-functional methods of coping with toxic shame:

  • Surrender to it
  • Fight it
  • Avoid it
Surrendering to Toxic Shame

If we have developed a tendency to cope with toxic shame by surrendering to it, then we will re-experience the shame over and over again. We will choose people who are shame-based to shame us more (a "shame stash"), we will make the same "mistakes" over and over again that leave us feeling more shame, and we will look for evidence that we should be ashamed while deleting and discounting compliments from others for the good things we do.

In psychoanalytic terms, surrendering to shame in these ways is called repetition-compulsion. Our choices and behaviors set up patterns of shamefulness so that we feel full of shame most of the time. Internalizers have this tendency.



Fighting Toxic Shame

If we have a tendency to fight against toxic shame then we will exhibit some level of "shamelessness". Shameless behavior is demonstrated by people who tend to externalize their pain (aka, projection.) But shameless behavior is not just projection; it is primarily a reaction-formation which is a subconscious defense mechanism.

Coping with toxic shame through reaction-formation is what happens when the subconscious mind flips an inner-state around so that it surfaces in the conscious awareness as an opposite state. In this case, toxic shame is experienced as shamelessness, or arrogance, and sometimes even as narcissism. And for this to be an effective defense, the subject must really feel shameless (even though they might find a nagging feeling of self-doubt if they look inside.)

Shameless people are, of course, Externalizers. These are the people that the Internalizers subconsciously choose for partners. There is a compatibility that comes with this arrangement because the Externalizer makes things "all-about-me" and the Internalizer makes things "all-about-others". For those who wondering... the answer is yes, the tables can and frequently DO get turned in a relationship like this. This is what puts the "drama" into the Drama Triangle and the "chemistry' into the Chemistry of Drama.

Shamelessness, taken to the extreme, is necessary in order for a person to become an abuser, rapist, or other perpetrator who exercises "god-like" power over another. Severe Externalizers have contempt for others because they really believe they are weak and less intelligent than themselves. You will not be able to get through to them or get them to see the errors of their ways because they are too well defended. In other words, they must let their defenses down willingly and face their shame and feelings of original pain before recovery is possible.
Avoiding Toxic Shame

The third ineffective method of coping with toxic shame is the Avoidance pattern. This is simply a mindset that allows one to avoid shame by staying out of relationships altogether or being emotionally cutoff while engaging in work addiction.

Neither of these methods are effective in coping with toxic shame because in the former strategy, being alone all the time soon causes an inner-state of loneliness to surface and with it comes self-talk about being undesirable, or unlovable, or unfit for relationships. In the latter, the emotionally cut off partner sooner or later gets confronted by an unfulfilled partner or by children who are tired of broken promises.
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post #616 of 634 (permalink) Old 11-28-2017, 09:12 AM
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Thank you, thank you for this thread! I have TS, and my vague, early memories confirm this.

My grandmother took care of me quite a bit when I was little, and my mom and stepfather were very young, and poor. My stepfather was an alcoholic Vietnam vet. My great-grandma had a dominating personality and was very harsh and perfectionistic. She didn't really correct me for the little misbehaviors that kids do, instead she would condemn and LABEL me. I remember her saying to me, "Shame on you!" "You're a selfish and bad little girl!" "Your mouth should be slapped!" She wasn't physically abusive, but it was her WORDS that I remember, and when you are a little kid, you believe it.

My mom was loving, but she was a very gentle doormat, and she let her new husband (my stepdad) and my great grandma dominate over her in raising me. She was emotionally damaged since her mother was my grandmother, of course, and she definitely had the same shaming upbringing, no doubt. In fact, grandma had a habit of accidentally calling me by my mom's name, since we resembled each other in so many ways!

I didn't know my real dad because my mom's first marriage broke up immediately. My mom got accidentally pregnant, they married shotgun style, I was born, and they broke up and went their separate ways. My stepfather was distant and was usually in bars, and when he was with me, he was irritated with me, making fun of the weird little things I liked to do as a child, calling me names. He made fun of me in what he thought might have been harmless teasing, but it hurt.

I don't want to go on and on at the moment, but all of this about toxic shame makes so much sense. I spend most of my life now hiding at home when I'm in a depressed or anxious mood, people pleasing, being the good loving supportive mom and wife. I have a few friends in my town but I keep them at arms-length, because I want to appear as someone who's cool and has it together.

It's nice to have a forum like this where we can share.
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post #617 of 634 (permalink) Old 01-24-2018, 03:19 PM
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Wow... This pretty much explained every issue I have ever dealt with in my life... Social anxiety, depression, anorexia, bulimia, extreme self esteem issues, wanting to commit suicide, being/staying in abusive relationships... All of this stems from me feeling that I am inherently bad, worthless, and hating myself because of it. I've had/did all of these things at a young age because I felt like there was something defective about me and that I had to change. And all of this was because I was treated so horribly, belittled, constantly being told I was fat and ugly, and neglected, at a very young age. All of this was a result of my environment, I had all of this happen to me from ages 3 - 12 no wonder why I became so ****ed up by the time I reached my adolescent years. And all of this explains why I have always resorted into finding external relationships. I've always sought out love, because I have felt so unloved my entire life. I have always tried to be in relationships, and it's all I've ever really cared about. All of this just makes so much damn sense..

It just makes me sad that I've been a member of this forum for so long and I never realized any of this. I joined at 13 years of age, and really had no idea or any sort of perspective in my life, because I had yet to experience any of it. But now that I have gone through many different experiences and I'm able to look back on everything I've been through and the results of all of my actions. I can definitely say this is the root to the vast majority of my mental problems. It honestly hurts so much, but it feels so good to know that all of this was a result of what had happened to me as a kid. And now I feel like I'm finally ready to take the steps I need to take in order to finally heal. I'm honestly really excited and scared to begin this process, but once I heal my overall sense of self, I'm sure that everything else toxic shame has manifested itself into will finally go away as well. Time to buy those books. Seriously thank you for this. I feel like a huge weight has finally been lifted off of my shoulders. I'm finally ready to put all of this behind me and move on.

Edit: God I just had to tell myself that I'm not worthless for still feeling toxic shame despite being aware of it... I really have a long ways to go. But I know all of this will be worth it in the end.
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post #618 of 634 (permalink) Old 04-15-2018, 07:06 AM
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Wow, this was really spot on. I always knew I had an unhealthy relationship with shame but I didn't know there was an actual word for it. I always thought it was something just extreme with me because when I tried to explain it to others and even therapists they didn't understand it at all. This is why I avoid social situations where I don't have control because if something embarrassing happens the shame is so ruthless and it feels like it buries me alive. I just have no idea how to cope with it.
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post #619 of 634 (permalink) Old 04-20-2018, 07:34 AM
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I hate feeling this way, but I can't find a logical reason not to... my lineage is just ****... so I do believe there is some truth in the way one feels unfortunately. Why wouldn't I feel toxic shame? I'm not some amazeballs beautiful creature after all, the things I try to achieve are marred by all of my many imperfections and deficits. It's almost like every facet of my life, everything I touch or try to reach becomes stained and ugly.

Ah well... can't wait to die, then I'll finally truly be free..

I don't wanna exist
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post #620 of 634 (permalink) Old 05-07-2018, 03:52 AM
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Darn it, I have no shame at all but intense social anxiety . I never experienced any significant change of state from anything except a strong drug. You sure it isn't a biologic status that causes shame and SA together, rather than shame causing SA. To me it looks like you mistake an effect for a cause.
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