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 Homeopathy: Overcoming Shame 

Where does shame come from? Shame often arises, as you can see from the above stories, in the context of a dysfunctional family. The parents are generally highly critical and demeaning, offering little or no positive feedback or support of the child's expressiveness, creativity, and emotions. The child is repeatedly ridiculed and humiliated, by the family and often by his or her peers. There may be a history of abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, and broken promises. The healthy needs for love and acceptance are usually unmet, resulting often in addictions in later life. The family settings, as in all three stories above, are usually filled with guilt and a sense that the person is inherently bad. As a result, the person feels helpless, powerless, worthless, and, overall, less than human. There is a profound feeling of being undeserving of anything better and of being incapable of attracting loving, caring partners, which often dooms the person to a life of unhappiness, suffering, and self-condemnation. Having been profoundly criticized throughout one's childhood usually leads to an exaggerated striving for perfection. In Carol's case, for example, the goal of the perfectionism was to be as thin as possible, even if it killed her, which it almost did.

What is the shame response? There are a number of ways in which a person deals with a shame-inducing environment. It is important first to understand that each of us has a variety of subpersonalities or parts, such as our frightened child, our merciless critic, our tireless pusher, etc. Each of these parts has a common goal-to help us deal with our life circumstances in ways that seem adaptive at the time and allow us to survive. Therefore, all of the following responses to shame are an attempt, successful or not, at coping and healing. One of the most common responses I see is the suppression of emotions, particularly anger. The woman is afraid to make waves for fear of punishment, further guilt-induction, or other repercussions and decides to react to life passively, even invisibly. She is often meek, does not stand up for herself, and is continually taken advantage of by others. She often chooses alcoholic or abusive relationships which she may stay in, even if she is battered or incessantly verbally abused. A second response is dissociation. This is a form of the woman leaving her body, such as in the case of repeated sexual abuse. It's too painful to continue to experience the suffering, so she exits. Another alternative is for the woman to become a child abuser herself,no longer willing to be a victim. Another common reaction is self-punishment in the form of addiction, whether it be to drugs, alcohol, binge eating, anorexia or bulimia, or anything else. Still another response is to convert the pain into physical illness as a form of self-punishment.

How can you overcome shame? Let me say first that we're talking about a pro-found imbalance, usually beginning with childhood. It is usually important to seek some type of supportive, experienced professional help. All of the following tech-niques can be assisted, enhanced, and made more quickly effective by the type of therapist who recognizes the depth of your suffering, is familiar with effective thera-peutic techniques, but also holds you in your perfection, wholeness, and light. I have seen too many clients who have spent four or five years in therapy dredging up all the garbage of their past without feeling that their lives have been signifi- cantly improved or transformed by the insights.

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 About The Author
Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman ND, MSWJudyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, DHANP, MSW is a licensed naturopathic physician board certified in homeopathic medicine. She graduated with a degree in ...more
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