- Redefine your problem, leaving out shame as an issue. The following questions may help in redefining: how insurmountable is this problem from your childhood? Is this problem interpersonal or intrapersonal? Can you help in setting aside the shame to resolve the problem? Is this your problem or another’s? Are you taking on the responsibility of another?
- If the problem belongs to someone else, give it back to them, by handing it over to your higher power.
- If the problem is yours from the past, you must confront the shame which stops you from handling the problem on your own. Look at the following: fears that block you right now from taking the steps that are stopping you from resolving the issue. Look at the irrational beliefs behind these fears. Refute these beliefs. Start a programme to affirm yourself, using such thoughts as ‘I deserve to solve this problem from my past’. I deserve to be good to myself’. I deserve to have others be good to me, also. Look at your innocent inner child and tell it that it deserved to be loved and cared for, that it deserved to be treated better than it was, that you deserved better parents who could have give you healthy parenting. Tell it that there is hope for the future and that you trust it to know what is best.
- Practice the above for 30 days, and if the shame and guilt are not gone, then return to step 1 and begin again.
- Look again at each problem in your past life and use steps 2 to 6 until you have explored all the shame you have suffered over your past life. If you are still unhealed return to step 1 and begin again.
This programme is very much based on a cognitive approach (change your thoughts and you will change your feelings). I can see that there are elements that would be useful for me if I was confronting shame, but I still prefer the humanistic approach of using one’s feelings. At the same time it is best to use every possible tool to defeat this most painful of conditions, and Bradshaw has a section on using positive self-thoughts and on using the inner voice.
There is much more that I could write on toxic shame, but I will leave it as it is, and hope that it might stimulate readers to get other and better sources than what I am offering.