There are some effective and practical ways to overcome toxic shame. Some psychologists have devised programmes to help the sufferer. Today I will summarise some of Bradshaw’s 12 step programme as applied to shame (bearing in mind that shame is the source of much addiction). The programme is simple to understand but hard to carry out, as the shame-based person cunningly tries to evade the shame of showing himself, and exist in denial. Bradshaw is adamant that this was the most powerful means that he used to combat toxic shame. I feel you should read the original if possible. The steps are as follows:
- To admit being powerless over our internalised toxic shame, and that our lives are unmanageable as a result. This recognises that toxic shame has a life of its own, and has great power over us, functioning in the same way as an addiction.
- To reach out to something greater that ourselves. We are reminded here of how ashamed Adam was as his new knowledge ruptured his relationship with God, with himself, with others and with nature.
- Having reached out to a greater power than ourselves, we have to define what that higher power is. For many it is God, and this counteracts the shameless person playing God (power, control, perfectionism, etc.). It also gives us permission to be human.