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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I want to ask everyone here some questions.

Do you feel uncomfortable talking and socializing with others?

Do you feel inside like you are not good enough to talk to other people, or even be around them?

Do you feel others are better than you?

Do you feel inside that you are worthless, unlovable, defective, a mistake, etc?

Do have have a tendency to try to be perfect?

Do you have a problem blushing ... blushing easily and you don't know why?

Do you feel uncomfortable laughing, sneezing, coughing, or doing any normal human action/function in front of other people?

Are you afraid to show your emotions in front of others?

Does it make you uncomfortable to express your feelings?

When these things affect your life, they cause you to want to avoid being around others. They (your internal feelings) cause you to feel less than human... inferior to others. You feel as if you are on the outside looking in. You feel inhuman, not worthy to talk to others or to even be in their prescence.

Yes, you have SA, but it is only a SYMPTOM of the larger problem - toxic shame. Please don't look at the words 'toxic shame" and assume it has nothing to do with you ... it has EVERYTHING to do with you.

Toxic shame is not the same as "regular" shame.

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 not necessarily about being ashamed of anything in particular that you've done (though, it could be - if it becomes internalized). Instead, it is a deep belief inside of feeling ashamed of who and what you are. It is a more on 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.

What I am trying to do is get the word out and ask that you not only recognize it in yourself, but share this knowledge with others and pass it along so they will also know what's wrong with them and get the help they need. I cannot guarantee that toxic shame is the cause of 100% of the people here with SA. Nobody can guarantee any such claim. However, I feel very confident that the majority here suffer from this soul murdering condition of toxic shame.

I recommend two excellent books written by John Bradshaw, an authority and expert on toxic shame. The books are:

1. "Healing The Shame That Binds You" (Revised Edition, October 2005)
2. "Bradshaw On: The Family: A New Way of Creating Solid Self-Esteem"

If I had to pick just one, it would be "Bradshaw On: The Family". It is more detail-intensive and goes deeply into how your family can play a part in passing on toxic shame. However, I really recommend reading both books to decide for yourself which you like best. I want to make it clear that one's family is not the only way for you to acquire toxic shame. There are several other ways one can acquire toxic shame as well. The "Healing The Shame That Binds You" book goes into more detail of the other ways one acquires toxic shame, aside from your family. It is best to read both books to be totally clear in regards to finding what caused your toxic shame.

Just know that your healing is up to you. Nobody or no drug (anxiety drugs are no long-term cure) is going to do it for you. Go to your local library or bookstore and get a copy of one or both of these books. Or, order the books onlline. Read the customer reviews at amazon.com or whatever online bookstore site, and you will see how these 2 books has changed lives.

Lifetimer's edit: I still do recommend the above books, but they are only part of the equation to healing toxic shame. They are part of the "inner" work you must do. You must ALSO do your "outer" work. I created a Toxic Shame Healing Plan.... a plan I created in my main thread - after this thread was made. It includes inner and outer work. Please check it out here: http://bit.ly/GzLNnI

Lifetimer
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I agree. Only, this is how I understand it. Toxic shame is basically synonymous with self-hatred, or identifying with your automatic self-hating (cruel) thoughts. This is the main source of my SA. Some resources I've found useful:

http://www.self-compassion.org/suggested_reading.html (a great reading list, plus the website has useful information)

Also: Cheri Huber's "There is Nothing Wrong With You", the Think Right Now "Conquering Social Anxiety" audio tapes, and Dr. Richard's "Overcoming Social Anxiety" audio series (the latter two are available as Torrents). Also, of course, CBT.
A word of warning: I want to caution you and others not to get bogged down with TOO many books, audio tapes, etc. Otherwise, it just becomes "information overload" and it becomes overwhelming & confusing. I have learned the hard way.

I don't know anything about those other books/audio tapes you mentioned, but I DO know about Dr. Richards' audio series because I purchased it around 4 years ago. In my opinion, I think it is okay ... it was interesting - but to me it was nothing spectacular. It is also very expensive (currently $259.99, but I paid more than that). It may be worth for others to take a look at. HOWEVER, I have found the books I've mentioned by John Bradshaw to be MUCH more useful (and less expensive) and those books have made it clear to me as to why I have SA and other issues. Instead of just treating the symptoms of social anxiety, I now know the core cause of it, and I am now healing it at its root cause.

All that I am saying is for everyone to first get at least one of those 2 books I have recommended in my original post of this thread, and if you find that it has nothing to do with you (which I highly doubt) then you can move on to something else.

Lifetimer
 

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It seems to me this is only for those who got abused or treated bad in childhood...but I never got abused or was treated bad...
 

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I have read Bradshaw's book "Healing the shame that binds you" and found it to be very insightful and interesting, it and it makes a lot of sense. It doesn't offer much in the way of showing you how to address the shame, other than a brief part on anchoring.

His other book "Reclaiming your inner child" may have more practical advice, I have got it and I will review it once I have read it.
 

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It seems to me this is only for those who got abused or treated bad in childhood...but I never got abused or was treated bad...
Shame has emerged as my central issue in therapy. I wanted to point out that invalidation can contribute to shame as much as abuse. And because it's more subtle and insidious, it's harder to recognize and overcome. Most of what you'll find on the web about invalidation relates to borderline personality disorder but you can expand that to include all damage to your feeling of self worth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It seems to me this is only for those who got abused or treated bad in childhood...but I never got abused or was treated bad...
R4ph4el,

Yes, it is true - one can get toxic shame from being abused in childhood, but it is NOT the only way to get it. But yes, it is common for people that have been physically and/or emotionally abused to acquire toxic shame, because, unfortunately, physical/emotional/psychological abuse has become an all too common thing in society. However, if you have never been abused, then that in no way exempts you from getting toxic shame. There are in fact many ways one can acquire toxic shame, aside from abuse. John Bradshaw talks of all the various ways in his "Healing The Shame That Binds You" book.

There is also another thread in this forum about toxic shame, if you want more information. Click the link below:

http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/f26/toxic-shame-the-core-of-our-social-anxiety-62843/

Another book I think you must read - in conjuction with the John Bradshaw books I mentioned in the 1st post of this thread - is the book "No More Mr. Nice Guy" by Dr. Robert Glover. The title is misleading because it is not about being mean to people. It, instead, is a book that tells you how to get over your toxic shame and also how to be a strong, independent person, as opposed to a person that is psychologically or subconsciously dependent on others. And this is the problem for those of us with SA. By the very nature of our SA, we tend to worry and wonder what other people are thinking of us. This could be on a conscious or subconscious level. Either way, I don't think anyone here doubts the fact that we, inside of ourselves, worry about what others are thinking about us. So, what I am building up to is that this book also gives solutions and it helps to change your perspective ... in showing you how to get over the trap of worrying about what other people think. It changes your core belief paradigm in many other things as well. I think this book can be a real help to both men and women.

Lifetimer's edit: While I do think parts of Dr. Glover's book can be helpful also to women, the overall book is really geared towards men. I understand if you choose not to read it. But the good news is that I have included a lot of the important info from Dr. Glover's book & website in the Outer Work document of my new TS healing plan... a plan I created in my main thread - after this thread was made. Regardless if you (women) choose to read his book, you can still benefit from all the other info in my healing plan and of the info throughout my main thread here: http://bit.ly/UeWprg

Also, if you are a female, I want to point out that I am aware of a book called Nice Girl Syndrome by Beverly Engel. It apparently is similar to Dr. Glover's book (Dr. Glover's book is about Nice Guy Syndrome, although obviously the title of his book is different). Her book has received very good reviews at the Amazon website. If you are a female then you may want to consider reading her book. Here is a link to her book at the Amazon website: http://amzn.to/1j65NKY

As for the men here, I definitely recommend to get No More Mr. Nice Guy.

Lifetimer
 

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You are totally correct Lifetimer in identifying shame as being the root of everything. It is often hard for people to see when they were shamed growing up; whether by their parents, peers or even pre-programmed socio-cultural beliefs. Through our conditioning as youths we were exposed to so many often rigid held beliefs reducing any spontaneity so common with being young. Though discipline is important it can often be suppressive and cause us to go ‘into our shells’ as an ego defence. Others ‘act-out’ in more expressive ways like alcohol, drugs and sex. As Bradshaw discusses acting-out these suppressed emotions are polarized; that is, either acting grandiose or worm-like. Both act like masks hiding your true inner self; guarded lest you be unguarded.

I had a big corporate job teaching large classes of people; I was truly being grandiose as I was the star of the company but inside felt turmoil; what if I am exposed for who I really am? The other expression of shame is worm-like which is less-than-human, depression and co-dependency are tell-tail-signs. The reality is that both sides of the spectrum are not-human, there is no healthy shame.

I would like to discuss this topic much further if anyone is interested. Take care.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You are totally correct Lifetimer in identifying shame as being the root of everything. It is often hard for people to see when they were shamed growing up; whether by their parents, peers or even pre-programmed socio-cultural beliefs. Through our conditioning as youths we were exposed to so many often rigid held beliefs reducing any spontaneity so common with being young. Though discipline is important it can often be suppressive and cause us to go 'into our shells' as an ego defence. Others 'act-out' in more expressive ways like alcohol, drugs and sex. As Bradshaw discusses acting-out these suppressed emotions are polarized; that is, either acting grandiose or worm-like. Both act like masks hiding your true inner self; guarded lest you be unguarded.
rainwilds, that is a good description about toxic shame and how it affects people. Obviously it will take more than one paragraph for people here to get a full understanding of toxic shame and all its aspects. That is why it is so important for everyone here to get the books I have recommended in this thread.

I had a big corporate job teaching large classes of people; I was truly being grandiose as I was the star of the company but inside felt turmoil; what if I am exposed for who I really am? The other expression of shame is worm-like which is less-than-human, depression and co-dependency are tell-tail-signs. The reality is that both sides of the spectrum are not-human, there is no healthy shame.
I see that toxic shame caused you to take on the aspect of being "grandiose", while my toxic shame had the opposite affect on me. It caused me to become, as John Bradshaw refers to, as being "less-than-human" (or "worm-like" as you say). And those are just some of the reasons why Bradshaw calls toxic shame a "soul-murdering" condition.

I would like to discuss this topic much further if anyone is interested. Take care.
I am always interested in this topic and I wouldn't mind talking further about it. I know it affects the vast majority of us here in this forum and I think it is important to talk about it. I have considered getting a discussion going in a venue such as "Paltalk" or some other "real-time" venue. If you or anyone else has any ideas on how (or where) to get a live discussion going, please chime in.

Lifetimer
 

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I think, superficially, denigration by others, in any form - i.e., direct denigration or implied denigration through an abandonment, etc. - causes shame and then social phobia like this:

Denigration -> Shame -> Self-Denigration -> Social Phobia

In other words, the external denigration causes shame and gets internalized and then acted out against oneself.

I think, on a deeper level, SA is not only a symptom of the larger problem of shame, but shame is a symptom of the larger problem of unconscious guilt. A healthy person who is denigrated does not accept the shame. A person who is guilt-ridden not only accepts the shame, but uses the shame to punish himself for being "guilty", and thereby to attempt to relieve himself of the guilt.

Guilt -> Shame -> Self-Denigration -> Social Phobia

In this system, the primary gain of social phobia, like any other symptom, is to address the unresolved guilt. Maybe, social phobia is not really a matter of caring or not caring about what others think - it's a matter of believing or not believing what our own unconscious minds think.
 

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I think, superficially, denigration by others, in any form - i.e., direct denigration or implied denigration through an abandonment, etc. - causes shame and then social phobia like this:

Denigration -> Shame -> Self-Denigration -> Social Phobia

In other words, the external denigration causes shame and gets internalized and then acted out against oneself.

I think, on a deeper level, SA is not only a symptom of the larger problem of shame, but shame is a symptom of the larger problem of unconscious guilt. A healthy person who is denigrated does not accept the shame. A person who is guilt-ridden not only accepts the shame, but uses the shame to punish himself for being "guilty", and thereby to attempt to relieve himself of the guilt.

Guilt -> Shame -> Self-Denigration -> Social Phobia

In this system, the primary gain of social phobia, like any other symptom, is to address the unresolved guilt. Maybe, social phobia is not really a matter of caring or not caring about what others think - it's a matter of believing or not believing what our own unconscious minds think.
I like how you described this.

I would like to add projective identification to the mix. We project the negative feelings of guilt or denigration onto others and then react defensively to them as if they are the critical ones trying to hurt us. One way of reacting is to avoid people or to attack them first. Then ironically, the others end up treating us exactly how we feared, reinforcing the whole cycle. :roll
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I just want to let everyone know I recently created another thread that goes into much more detail about toxic shame. It explains more about what it is, how we acquire it, and what to do about it. Please click the link in my signature below if you are serious about overcoming your SA. It will take you directly to the thread.


Lifetimer
 

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Holy crap, over my head.

Information overload post caught my eye though. I will stop picking up new material to read.

So far, I've finished or begun Dr. Richards Audio, Painfully Shy, What You Must Think of Me. Probably gonna stop there.
 
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