toxic shame

In the last post I looked at the 12 step programme as applied to toxic shame by John Bradshaw. Now I will share with you the 7 step programme outlined by James J. Messina and Constance M. Messina.

1. This stipulates that the best way to overcome shame is to attack it at its root causes. These authors argue that shame comes from a set of fears, beliefs and behaviours. The root causes of shame are set out as follows – irrational beliefs, lack of trust in self or others, insecurity, vulnerability, denial of past hurts, despair over past hurts, inability to let go of the past, fear of refection, victimisation, depression, feeling intimidated by others, addictive need to fix and take care of others, over-dependence on others, manipulation by others, feelings of loss of personal control. It is necessary to tackle each one of these separately.  You can see how this is done by checking the website at

2. Using a journal you can explore how shame blocked the memories of your past life by looking at a current problem stemming from your childhood, and answering the following questions in the journal: 1. Who is responsible for the problem?  2. Whose problem is it?  3. What did you do to make this problem worse for yourself? 4. How much shame do you feel about this problem? 5. How much does the shame you feel exacerbate the problem? 6. If you felt no more shame what would your problem look like?

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