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Healthy Shame

Healthy Shame VS Toxic Shame, guilt, humility, human, narcissism, imperfection, John Bradshaw, healing the shame, humiliation, powerlessness, incapable, unworthy

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to like to reveal healthy shame, what is and why it is actually healthy.

First a quick update:  

The Breakup Test
Are you heartbroken, angry, lost, lonely, confused, depressed, or pining over your ex? How would you like to benefit from personalized advice, action steps and revelations? Take my Free Breakup Test and get your own personalized report.

Are You Guilty Or Ashamed?
Do you feel guilty or ashamed for something you have done or for your past relationship or Ex? Do you know the difference between guilt and shame? Do you know how to overcome guilt and shame? Watch the video

Now, let’s talk about healthy shame, what is and why it is actually healthy.

What do you think of when you hear the word shame?

I believe that the one core issue everyone has relates directly to shame.

What is the difference between guilt and shame?

Guilt is an action. Guilt is ‘I did something bad or wrong.’

Shame is a state of being. Shame is ‘I am bad; I am wrong.’

Toxic shame is expressed with the subconscious belief, ‘I am not lovable, I am not good enough; I am not worthy; I am an outsider; I don’t belong; I am inadequate and powerless.’

Guilt can be healthy because it acts as our conscience telling us that we have done something wrong, we have hurt someone, or we have done something that is not in alignment with our values. Guilt is unhealthy when one condemns himself and internalizes the guilt into shame.

Shame is the deep belief that there is something wrong with you, that you are innately bad, and therefore it cannot be changed.

Shame is the belief that you are less than human, inferior and unworthy, powerless, existing only to serve others, not worthy of love and connection.

Accordingly, what is healthy shame?

Healthy shame is the acceptance that you are human.

Healthy shame is acceptance that you are capable but also limited; worthy and influential (able to make a difference), worthy of love and connection.

I know that many New Age teachers don’t want you to ever think that you are limited. They want you to think that you are beyond powerful, that you are almost supernatural. They also don’t want you to have any guilt or any shame.

This is a dangerous and flawed principal and teaching.

If you believe that you are beyond human, beyond powerful, supernatural, then you can never make any mistakes; you can never be human, and you never ask or accept support. It can lead to self-loathing because you criticize yourself for acting human, for making mistakes and for not being and doing more; alternatively refusing to experience any guilt for wrongdoing leads to aggression, callousness, narcissism and sociopathy.

Think of someone in your life who acts in a way that they believe that they are superhuman, superior, and can never make a mistake.

Perhaps it was a parent.

When I was growing up, my father would never ever admit that he made a mistake, and he would never apologize. Why?

He believed that to admit that he made a mistake would mean that he was shameful, and therefore innately bad.

This is the other extreme side of people who are riddled with toxic shame – the denial of any shame, the avoidance of the deeper subconscious belief that there is something wrong with him.

For my father, it was too painful to admit that he is not perfect, that he is human.

He was not raised with love, affection, understanding, compassion, and forgiveness for his mistakes.  

But healthy shame is equivalent to humility. It is the understanding that while we are worthy and capable, we all do something wrong, we’re all learning, we are all imperfect.

Healthy shame allows space for self-acceptance, self-compassion, patience, forgiveness, and for the opportunity to learn and grow from everything that happens.

When a person refuses to accept their humanity and imperfection, and therefore refuses to be humble, he acts like God, believing that he is perfect, superior, and therefore should have power over others. He also cannot learn and it kills creativity and problem-solving.

That is exactly what my father did.

Because he could not face the pain of his own shame (the way he was punished, criticized, and blamed as a child), as an adult he acted completely shameless. He could not face or admit to making a mistake, so he engaged in extraordinarily destructive behaviors, and he shifted the shame to others.

My father chose to reject humility, and he refused to act with healthy shame. Therefore, he criticized everyone around him – his wife, children, family members, and friends. He expected others to be perfect. He blamed others and refused to ever accept responsibility for any of his own actions. He was self-righteous, expressing rage because he could not accept that he was human and made a mistake. Thus, he would use rage and power over others in the form of screaming, shouting, smashing and hitting/beating.

My father was never taught that it is okay to make mistakes; it is okay to express yourself and your desires; it is okay to have feelings – feelings of joy, laughter, sadness, anger, doubt, fear, uncertainty, and loss.

Healthy shame would have allowed my father to model a different behavior; one that allows people to be fully human and to embrace their humanity, and to love and connect with others.

Healthy shame does not do what toxic shame does; it does not isolate you or encourage you to hide behind a mask or play a fictitious role. Healthy shame does the opposite; it encourages you to be you, to fully accept and express all of you, and to do the same to others!

If you would like help to be more accepting of yourself, to let go of painful shame, to express more self-compassion, and to overcome a traumatic event or let go of the past, book a one-on-one session with me.

You can add to the conversation below.

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.

Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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