Shame can cause personal enlightenment

Shame. Many people struggle with this feeling. It leaves people afraid to live their lives as themselves.

Unhealthy shame is the sense someone is going to figure you out. It’s the sense someone may see another as less than perfect. A person may not act themselves with a group of people because they may think others will judge them. This leads many people to hide behind masks and facades to cover up things they don’t like about themselves.

Many live with anxiety because they are afraid and ashamed of who they are. To heal shame a person must come out of hiding, feel as bad as they really feel, be vulnerable, and quit trying to be God.

In John Bradshaws’ series “Healing the Shame that Binds You,” he says, “We are as sick as our secrets.” In other terms, being ashamed of secrets makes us sick. Not with a common cold, but spiritually or emotionally.

Now, I don’t think that means to tell your deepest darkest secrets to anyone, but being bound by a secret keeps you from the spiritual and emotional freedom you could taste if the secret wasn’t hidden in the dark.

The Bible has many verses about bringing shame, secrets and uncertainties from the dark into the light and experiencing freedom. For example, Isaiah 59:9-10 (NIV) says, “We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes.” Bringing light to something dark allows us to see and move freely.

So, from my perspective, getting rid of secrets which are burdens means telling a trusted person such as a pastor, counselor, or others in a small group where an individual can feel safe to talk about deep emotional or spiritual topics.

For example, addictions are based on feeling worthless. People in addiction try to get out of pain through fantasies, shopping addictions, eating rituals, acting out, ways to get out of the pain.

To heal these addictions people need to start expressing feelings. It seems counter cultural because emotional expression is not of high value in today’s society. Safely getting into your feelings, allowing mistakes, flexibility, and believing people can change is something that can only benefit society in time.

John Bradshaw’s lecture also focuses on shamed-based parents. Many parents who shame their children simply do not love themselves, and as John Bradshaw puts it, “How can you teach someone to love themselves if you don’t love yourself?”

Jobs of parents are to be role models and children need models. If the parent is dysfunctional, the child needs other role models to teach them how to love themselves properly. A lot of people from dysfunctional families don’t know how to do a bunch of stuff and simply put, were neglected.

These acts cause many health disorders.

In his lecture, Bradshaw says incest and sexual abuse is the most highly shaming act causing disorders. Once effected individuals create a boundary around themselves allowing no one come into contact with them sexually. Others cope by having seductive relationships.

The way to prevent these disorders and addictions is to stop shaming children. Teach children that mistakes are ways to learn. I’m not a parent, but when I reassure co-workers and peers that mistakes are chances to learn, it cures a lot of shame and discomfort for people.

Toxic shame is to pretend like you’re not human anymore which means spiritual bankruptcy.

Being willing to feel as bad in a safe and healthy way gives way to spiritual and emotional health. Perfectionism and criticism leads to emptiness in an individual and when you shame people, you kill their soul.

At the end of Bradshaw’s lecture, he briefly states the way out of binding shame. He said when you are willing to take the risk to embrace the pain, talking to people might be a way out. Another way to relieve the pain might be to allow someone to love you and allow someone to see who you truly are.