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Author Topic: 4.15 | Toxic Shame - What Is It and What Can We Do About It?  (Read 25802 times)
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« on: April 09, 2010, 02:09:52 PM »

US: Toxic shame--what is it and what can we do about it?

Do you have any of these "fleas" or after effects of spending time in a BPD environment?



    • Perfectionism?


    • Addictions to substances, food, and other compulsive behaviors?


    • People pleasing?


    [/list]

    You may benefit from learning more about toxic shame.

    Excerpt
    Toxic shame is an all pervasive sense that I am flawed.  It is a belief  that we are worthless and defective as a human being.  It is more than just a fleeting feeling of unworthiness, it is an internal sense of falling short.  If we experience toxic shame, it is difficult to recognize.  As [John] Bradshaw [author of Healing the Shame That Binds You]  says, "A shame based person will guard against exposing his inner self to others, but more significantly, he will guard against exposing himself to himself."

    --From hope4survivors.com (www.hope4survivors.com/Shame.html)

    Shame is a normal and necessary human emotion. It alerts us to our limits as people, letting us know we are not all-powerful and must respect the needs of others as well as our own. But shame can also become "toxic"--a pervasive feeling not about anything we do, but about who we are. John Bradshaw, author of Healing the Shame That Binds You and other works, and many others have suggested that toxic shame forms early in our lives. Children develop shame as toddlers. If all goes well, this shame is healthy. If something goes wrong, such as abuse or another invalidating environment, toxic shame can result, with implications that can last a lifetime. Many raised in a BPD environment, as well as others, carry toxic shame.

    In this workshop, we will explore:



      • The concept of toxic shame


      • How to recognize it in our lives


      • Stories of our own toxic shame and journeys to grow beyond it


      • Strategies for what to do about it


      [/list]

      As a start, what are your thoughts and questions about toxic shame?

      Do you see it operating in your life? If so, how?
      « Last Edit: March 11, 2019, 07:23:44 PM by Harri » Logged

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      « Reply #1 on: April 09, 2010, 02:38:05 PM »

      I feel fear/shame a lot.  I find myself having unrealistic expectations of others, then shame that I feel I can't "measure up".

      Dealt with substance abuse for many years.  The feelings of being "unworthy" and the sadness I feel about not being totally complete about it.

      I wonder how much is shame about things I did as my BPDm's puppet or shame because I continue these behaviours.
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      « Reply #2 on: April 09, 2010, 02:44:29 PM »

      It just frustrates me to no end that I have not been able to find John Bradshaw's video "The Shame That Binds Us". I was fortunate enough to see his series on pbs at least 20 yrs ago and it really was new territoty for me and extremely validating.

      My family could not have been anything but shame based.

      I think being shame based is an extremely painful dehumanizing existance. I know I was shame based when I was getting emotionally worse in my late 20's. Lack of communication and secrecy feed and fuel this. Through therapy I am hardly shame based now.

      I think for children that become shame based, it all comes from the abuse/neglect and internalizing (in this case, the shame my mother should have felt but projected). The internalizing the shame is probably the most damaging. Having a BPD mother, I am sure mine started in the crib. An infant can internalize rejection.

      Therapy can help this a lot if one gets bonded with the T; least did in my case. It was really really thrilling to be able to shed so much old baggage and learn that shame is only for those that deserve it. Most of us here did not have a mother in those early learning stages that reflected acceptance/love through touch, vocalization and facial expressions. We didn't get off to a good start.

      B&W, thanks for starting this. It will be a great workshop.
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      « Reply #3 on: April 09, 2010, 02:55:34 PM »

      These are just my opinions. Of course it can start while being a toddler. I always found that visuals helped me grasp psychology much better. So I want to give a visual for members who might be looking inwardly.

      We've all seen it. A mother is in a store with a toddler. The toddler is going to do what toddlers do, so, say the toddler touches something out of curiosity. Mother (fill in father, caretaker) smacks the childs hand and LOUDLY admonishes the child. LOUDLY shames the child. The child feels shock and lack of understanding, looks about and sees all the other customers staring with anything from shock, empathy and apathy. The child is well on it's way to building an internal shame base. This can go on to the point that the child starts 'seeing' those looks on others faces, thereby projecting his experiences.

      It angers me actually, to describe this. But we all know it's far far far from uncommon. Imagine what that child receives in treatment in private.
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      « Reply #4 on: April 09, 2010, 02:56:13 PM »

      He sells DVD's on his website. Have you checked there?

      www.johnbradshaw.com/healingtheshamethatbindsyou1hourlecture.aspx
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      « Reply #5 on: April 09, 2010, 03:01:49 PM »

      Thanks, Havana. I'd also love to be able to link it here at bpdfamily.com and am really surprised it's not online. His use of the 'mobile' was also very validating for me. In that, he is explaining the codependency in toxic families and how they react when there is any change or crisis by any member of the family unit. He uses the mobile AS the family.

      We see this happen all over these boards. How a member is effected by neurotic behavior from another family member.
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      « Reply #6 on: April 09, 2010, 03:03:35 PM »

      Excerpt
      We've all seen it. A mother is in a store with a toddler. The toddler is going to do what toddlers do, so, say the toddler touches something out of curiosity. Mother (fill in father, caretaker) smacks the childs hand and LOUDLY admonishes the child. LOUDLY shames the child. The child feels shock and lack of understanding, looks about and sees all the other customers staring with anything from shock, empathy and apathy. The child is well on it's way to building an internal shame base. This can go on to the point that the child starts 'seeing' those looks on others faces, thereby projecting his experiences.

      Certainly a portrait of toxic shame in the making. Bradshaw also talks about shame through abandonment, which is something that really struck home with me. Both my parents have personality disorders and there were periods of severe neglect. Even when basic needs were cared for and my mother seemed very "on" as a parent (there were such times), I was acutely aware of her own needs (for comfort, guidance, reinforcement, care, protection, to keep her tenuous hold on reality from shattering). I completely gave up on the idea that I should have any needs of my own. My parents abandoned me and I abandoned myself. This took the form of a recurrent phrase/thought/feeling: I can sacrifice myself.

      Underneath "I can sacrifice myself" (my needs, my time, my comfort, my interests, my growth, my money, my support, my life) is "I don't matter, I am worthless." That's toxic shame.

      Undoing this shame has been the most profound personal project of my life.

      B&W
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      « Reply #7 on: April 09, 2010, 03:16:47 PM »

      I can't say I still even get triggered into feeling shame but it could sneak around the corner when I least expect it.

      I am the sacrifycing type too, B&W but I am MUCH more selective about who I give or share with, or put other's first. MY DH is always saying you give so much of yourself, like when I am fixing dinner. That's the part of the perfectionism that is just not going to go anywhere because it makes me happy to do so and is not hurting anyone.

      I also know the feeling of shame base very well. We were never strangers. An example I recall was when I started 7th grade. Setting the scene: I had already had great emotional abuse at momster's hands for years. I knew I was going into 7th grade and transferring schools but I did NOT know I would be going to a school ten times larger with students I HAD NEVER SEEN BEFORE, whereas I went through most of the early grades with the same students year after year. I was totally unprepared.

      Home room? What the heck is THAT? So then I get to my first class and it was extremely ackward. I could even SMELL the new clothes and see the great pains other parents had put into making their children 'school ready'. I was wearing a used dress that I now know was 'yrs my sr'. By then I was so overwhelmed I had to run from the room. Fight or flight the PTSD. That was the straw to long term abuse. It took me nearly 2 months to get up the courage to easily get through a day at school.

      Can you imagine a 7th grader having NO say in their clothing?

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      « Reply #8 on: April 09, 2010, 03:31:29 PM »

      B&W are you willing to share information about abandonment? I know I was but could not figure out the where's and why's in therapy. Is a parent just not being there abandonment?

      My mother was not there for me to teach me anything. She would, on the other hand, ridicule me for choices. She was at work when I was in the 4(?)th grade. I put Dad's hair oil on in preperation for having our school photos taken that day. I believe that was a day we were sans a babysitter. Some of my shame base was because in early adolescence I was learning how ill advanced I was. Other school girls were wrapped up in nail polish, make up, boys. I was still playing with play dough. I had very very little appropriate stimulus up until adolescence. Momster bought me a barbie doll and chatty kathy when I was twelve. Only that to rub it in I wanted one years earlier, she bought evilsis the REAL barbie doll I got my knockoff barbie.

      I know these things are abusive, but do they reflect desertion? Somehow, I feel this is a silly question, like of course they do!
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      « Reply #9 on: April 09, 2010, 04:38:50 PM »

      Excerpt
      B&W are you willing to share information about abandonment? I know I was but could not figure out the where's and why's in therapy. Is a parent just not being there abandonment?

      Definitely happy to share more. It's a very good topic, often at the core of shame that takes different forms.

      There's a website, hope4survivors.com, with great summaries of Bradshaw's work. Here's the section on abandonment (my bolding):

      Excerpt
      Abandonment


      Physical Desertion - This is the most commonly understood meaning of the word.  This can mean an outright physical separation resulting from a decision not to be involved in your child's life, i.e. giving a child up for adoption or letting someone else raise your child.  This can also include an undesired absence, which can occur from incarceration, illness, death or service away from home in the military. 

      Emotional Abandonment - Children need mirroring from their primary caretakers to develop in a healthy way.  Healthy mirroring means that someone is there for the child and reflects an accurate image of who they really are.  Shame-based parents are co-dependent adult children who are still in search of someone who is always there for them.  The objects of their narcissistic gratification will often be their own children.  In this way, the child takes care of her parent's needs instead of the parents taking care of the child's needs. 

      Abandonment Through Abuse - Abuse equals abandonment because when a child is abused, there is no one there for them.  Young children, because of their natural egocentricity, take responsibility for their abuse.  It is easier for a young child to believe they are to blame for the abuse than to blame the parent(s) whom they rely on for survival.

      MTS, when I read about your feelings of shame at realizing how ill-prepared you were for changes in your schooling and how your mother provided you with age-inappropriate toys, I think of some of the phrases bolded above. She was holding up a distorted mirror, probably in order to meet her own needs (such as keep you younger/thwart your maturing process [less chance of YOU abandoning her] or torment you to make herself feel better?). As a child I imagine you felt confusion and betrayal, and a sense of disorientation. "I don't know who I am supposed to be" is a very shaming feeling, especially in early adolescence. Your mother, for her own reasons (perhaps a lot of shame there in her as well), abandoned you emotionally.

      Those are my initial thoughts, anyway. How does this information feel when you read it?

      B&W
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      « Reply #10 on: April 09, 2010, 04:53:44 PM »

      It feels very validating, and supplies me with the acceptance to SAY I was abandoned. You mention the lack of age appropriate things, and I actually do remember momster forcing me between growing up and not growing up. Like I could feel her distress about it and for sure my mother was shame based.

      I think my shame base was so greatly helped by what I have often referred to here as my 'good T' He was an older man, old enough to practically be my grandfather at the time. Through him, I received the proper 'mirroring' we've both mentioned here. It was a process and he informed me he'd be taking me back to a young age. I worked out that shame in his presence. Some ways this came out might astound one.

      I remember things about a spoon and a kleenex where he layed the napkin out so delicately, and wrapped the spoon in it. I was not really conscious of these things when he did them, they were like a 'feel'. I remember him telling me stories, for whole hours because I was so withdrawn and confused he'd have to take up the hour by assuring me. These stories were very very comforting but I cannot relay any of them. I don't want to start a discussion about the T I had because it could be misinforming others and make me answer things I can't. But it has so often been important for me at times, to make other doubting members about T feel there is hope.

      Thanks a lot, B&W. Now I know the use of abandonment is not just about physical desertion (which she did to my eldest brother when he was SIX months old). I still believe he suffers shame base because of that gross action of hers. And to know he learned the reason why she deserted him was to inappropriately chase Dad to his military base. I never even felt it was deserved to say she deserted him (or me) now I do.
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      « Reply #11 on: April 09, 2010, 06:39:58 PM »

      I wonder how much is shame about things I did as my BPDm's puppet or shame because I continue these behaviours.

      That's an interesting question, simplesimon. Can you say more about it? Bradshaw talks a lot about the concept of "carried shame" that is literally carried from one generation to the next.

      Excerpt
      I feel fear/shame a lot.  I find myself having unrealistic expectations of others, then shame that I feel I can't "measure up".

      Dealt with substance abuse for many years.  The feelings of being "unworthy" and the sadness I feel about not being totally complete about it.

      xoxox

      Do you interpret your expectations as perfectionism? One of the effects of growing up with a BPD parent described in Surviving a Borderline Parent is "expecting perfection from yourself and holding others to that (unrealistic) standard too; being quick to judge; judging others harshly."

      Here's a bit more information about perfectionism, again from hope4survivors.com:

      Excerpt
      Perfectionism

      Perfectionism is learned when a person is valued only for doing.  I once heard this referred to as becoming a humandoing instead of a humanbeing.  A perfectionist has no sense of healthy shame or internal limits... .they never know how much is good enough. 



      In my family, perfectionism was a multi-generational means for passing the "hot potato" of toxic shame.  My maternal grandmother was a perfectionist in the strictest sense of the word.  Her house would have passed anyone's "white glove test" at any given time of the day, week, month or year!  She had her fireplace sealed off from the chimney and it was never used.  It was not good enough that there be no smoke or ashes from the fire, she was determined to keep every speck of environmental "dirt" outside her house.  Having the fireplace flue closed was not good enough.  She had the chimney cemented shut.  The windows in her house were painted shut as well.  Before my grandparents were able to afford central air conditioning, they sweltered in the summer heat with nary a window open!  Grandma was afraid that dust and grime from the street would soil her curtains.  While my mother was not much of a housekeeper, she used this perfectionistic measure against my sister and me as we performed our weekly household chores.  No matter how hard we tried, we never quite measured up!

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      « Reply #12 on: April 09, 2010, 07:12:49 PM »

      Ohhh blackandwhite,  Thank you so much for this vital topic!  I felt so much shame throughout my life that I could never even look at myself in a mirror.   I felt that somehow I was so damaged, so wounded, so ugly that it had to be showing through my pores and anyone who would look at me could see it.   I recognize that this is toxic shame.  I have all these pictures of myself as a child and my expression is almost everyone shows grimacing or pain, even my fists are clenched and my body is rigid.   Even now in my 50s, I hate to be photographed.  I'd say though I only hate about 1/2 of my photos.  Big step forward right?

      Abandonment too is a tricky issue for me because it, like so much else in my life, was inconsistent.   When I was in early elementary school my mother forgot to pick me up at school (actually the street corner where she usually came because it was too much bother for her to come to the school).   I was left there until dark.   Apparently she had fallen asleep.   I don't remember much of my childhood but I still remember that terror.  And I don't believe she ever owned that she had done something so painful to me, only remarking on how innocent she was of wrong-doing.  And yet at other times she could be available or at least it felt like that to me.   So I just never knew.   I guess that is abandonment too. 

      I'm pretty sure my father abused me from about the age of 2 (I know this for several reasons one of which is that I apparently stopped eating and walking at that age).   I could not have possibly understood that what he was doing was "shameful" but still (and here again I had to piece together the pieces) there had to be secrecy surrounding it, which I'm pretty sure grew into shame for me.  I'm also pretty sure he would wake me up to engage in his covert activities with me.  I had migraine headaches and was dependent on sleeping pills by the time I was 10 or 11.   I still struggle with headaches and insomnia when times get tough.  I guess I can trace these issues in my life to shame,

      LD
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      « Reply #13 on: April 09, 2010, 11:10:08 PM »

      Do you have any of these "fleas" or after effects of spending time in a BPD environment?



      • Perfectionism?


      • Addictions to substances, food, and other compulsive behaviors?


      • People pleasing?



      My answers, in chronological order: yes; somewhat (minor OCD symptoms); and yes.  


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      « Reply #14 on: April 10, 2010, 12:23:31 AM »

      Shame has been probably one of the top five defining factors of my life.  I've never had any unusual addictions, I think because so many other healthy people have been in my life (particularly super-cook Gramma), but I've always been a perfectionist and have rated myself on pleasing people.

      The most obvious manifestation of my constant shame is how often I apologize.  I'm always apologizing for everything!  And it isn't insincere, I do feel responsible and guilty for so many things - my perfectionism is that all-encompassing.

      Threats of and actual abandonment brought about the shame.  My parents divorced when I was 4 and then a huge chunk of uBPDm's family just disappeared from my life.  UBPDm figured that threatening to leave, as well, if I wasn't psychically & telekinetically perfect, she could threaten to leave me... .or claimed that I had abandoned her by failing.

      I'm better with my chosen relationships and extended family now... .but I still get panicky with bosses, supervisors, teachers/professors - people who have more control over my situation than I do (like uBPDm for the first 23 years of my life!). 
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      « Reply #15 on: April 10, 2010, 01:21:14 AM »

      I too felt a lot of shame growing up and it just got worse as I got older. Only two years ago (I am 49) did I understand what caused it and start working at getting better.

      It wasn't so much what my BPD mom did as much as what she let others do to us. She was a perfectionist and very controlling but her brothers and sisters were very abusive to us as kids. They called us names from the time we were very young, made fun of all the girls as they started to get figures - in pretty vicious ways, made sure we all knew how stupid we were, etc. I think it was having all of this happen and then going to a parent and rightfully expecting them to stick up for you and getting nothing, that made a lot of us ( my cousins and me) grow up feeling worthless.

      I remember a time when I was maybe 12 and I was walking in my aunt's kitchen in her new house. I wasn't aware of a step down from the back screened in porch to the kitchen floor. I was carrying a pretty full, glass punch bowl into the kitchen, tripped on the step and fell right onto the glass bowl. NOBODY asked me how I was. They all stood around me in a circle making comments about how clumsy I was and 'look at how she spilled the punch everywhere.' I was humiliated and just wanted to crawl into a hole. This is how we got treated by them forever. I remember a time when one of my aunts grabbed my cheek so hard and squeezed it and twisted it right and front of both of my parents. It killed, and brought tears to my eyes. When I said something to BPD mom about it later she said this aunt always does stuff like that... .no big deal... .my dad never reacted at all.

      Growing up with that taught me to doubt myself and feel like crap, like I somehow deserved to be treated this way. Finding out about BPD was a godsend. I FINALLY can see the problem for what it is. But finding it out so late in life is hard. Things could have been so different. I can't imagine what it would have been like to go through life relatively confident. NOW I plan on making up for lost time. And I spend ZERO time with that personality type any more. I used to attract BPDs like a magnet, like so many of us here. If I even SENSE that they are like that I don't spend any more time around them. I am very protective of myself now.

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      « Reply #16 on: April 10, 2010, 09:33:36 AM »

      Thank you simplesimon, methinkso, liondreamer, jenk, kkriesel, and tenacity for sharing parts of your story (and havana for the link!). It seems like shame has been a large and painful presence in many of our lives. To learn a bit more about it, here's a chart contrasting healthy and some aspects of toxic shame (help4survivors.com summarizing Bradshaw):





      Healthy Shame

      Shame as Embarrassment and Blushing

      Mistakes are a part of human nature. With blushing, we know we've made a mistake.

      Shame as Shyness

      Shyness is a natural boundary that keeps us from being harmed by a stranger.

      Shame as the Basic Need for Community

      As humans, we have a basic need for community. Our shame in this case acts as a healthy reminder that sometimes we need help and that we have a need to be involved in loving, caring relationships.

      Shame as the Source of Creativity and Leaning

      One of the biggest road blocks to creativity is a feeling of being right.  When we think we are absolutely right, we stop seeking further information.  Being certain stops curiosity.  Curiosity is at the heart of all learning.  Our healthy shame never allows us to think we know it all.

      Shame as the Source of Spirituality

      Some would say that spirituality is our ultimate human need.  Healthy shame is essential for grounding ourselves to this ultimate source of reality.  Healthy shame reminds us that we are not God.  It grounds us in humility.
      Toxic Shame

      Neurotic Syndromes of Shame

      Internalization of Shame

      Internalization of shame involves at least 3 processes:

      1) Identification with Shame-Based Models

      The need to identify with someone, to belong is one of our most basic human needs.  Second only to self-preservation. This begins with our primary caregivers and significant others.  When children have shame-based caregivers and significant others, they identify with them.  This is the first step in internalizing shame. 

      2) Abandonment:  The Legacy of Broken Mutuality

      Children find love, acceptance and identity in the mirroring eyes of their parents or primary caregivers.  Abandonment can include this lack or loss of positive mirroring, not just physical abandonment. 

      Besides physical desertion and lack of mirroring, abandonment includes any of the following:

      -  Neglect

      -  Abuse of any kind

      -  Enmeshment into the needs of the parents

      3) Interconnection of Memory Imprints

      Shaming experiences are recorded in a child's memory banks.  As Bradshaw explains, "Because the victim has no time or support to grieve the pain of the broken mutuality, his emotions are repressed and the grief is unresolved."  Any future experience which even vaguely resembles the original shame-based trauma can easily TRIGGER the words, sights, sounds, smells or other senses involved in the original trauma.

      Self-Alienation and Isolation

      Alienation means that you experience parts of yourself that are alien to you. [From the author at hope4survivors.com] For example, I was shamed for crying during my childhood abuse.  Therefore, feeling grief and crying became an alienated part of myself.  When ever I feel grief now, I often experience toxic shame. This is why it is so important to lean how to heal the toxic shame that binds us to our past trauma in order to adequately process these unresolved emotions.

      Shame as the False Self

      "Because the exposure of self to self lies at the heart of neurotic shame, escape from the self is necessary."  This is accomplished by creating a false self.

      Shame as Co-Dependency

         

      People who are co-dependent try to get their inner child's needs met through another adult and/or they focus all of their nurturing abilities on other adults (usually a significant other) who are trying to get these needs met through others.  People who are co-dependent have no inner life. They lack the ability to get their needs met from within themselves. Therefore, happiness and feelings of self-validation are found outside themselves.

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      « Reply #17 on: April 10, 2010, 10:03:31 AM »

      Fascinating thread.  I too grew up with an angry, perfectionistic BPD/NPD mom; whatever new thing she told us to do, we had to understand it instantly and do it right the first time, or be screamed at, threatened, called ugly names, etc., even as very small children.  I learned very early in life that I didn't dare ask my mother to repeat herself, or ask her for help with anything; it irritated her and irritation could trigger into rage.  I definitely believe I was loaded up to capacity with shame as the major component of my being, and according to the Bradshaw excerpt, exhibit many of the symptoms of toxic shame.  I too was a perfectionist, for most of my life.  I consciously decided I didn't want to be perfectionistic anymore, it was causing me too much stress and it wasn't helping me "win" anyway (RE a work situation I was in with a boss who didn't like me.)  So, screw the perfectionism.  Thanks for posting that site about toxic shame, definitely going to check that out RE getting rid of ts.

      -LOAnnie
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      « Reply #18 on: April 10, 2010, 11:02:11 AM »

      Generational shame was mentioned. Much too young to have been able to understand the psychology, THIS was that weird thing I always sensed (heavily so) about momster's foo.

      Too long ago to remember even what it was titled, I read literature that explained how the shame would carry on from generation to generation until someone else 'fixed' that one person's problem. BPD or not, I believe this is why momster expected her own children to 'fix' everything. I stated to my last psyche, "My mother never fixed a problem in her life".

      Another way to express this is to say "they didn't pay their own psychological bills" but carried those debts over to their own offspring.

      I was speaking with my aunt about how momster had to get married (she claimed she never knew that oh come on for Lord's sakes). I digress. Aunt said that when she was little her gmother explained aunts mother (her D) being pregnant out of wedlock in this way: "It happens with each second generation". And I could hear in aunt's voice the acceptance, and even FACT that 'this is just the way it is'. As she also said about momster mistreating me, "See, it's history repeating itself" as if it could not be changed. An accepted predicted doom, if you will. I call it ignorance.
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      « Reply #19 on: April 10, 2010, 11:17:50 AM »

      Underneath "I can sacrifice myself" (my needs, my time, my comfort, my interests, my growth, my money, my support, my life) is "I don't matter, I am worthless." That's toxic shame.

      Undoing this shame has been the most profound personal project of my life.

      Hi, B&W - would you be willing to share some of the things you've done to work on this issue? What's been successful for you?
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      « Reply #20 on: April 10, 2010, 11:56:00 AM »

      I'm not sure if I can post to a workshop, but since this is on the "Coping" board, I'll try anyway.

      Haven't read this entire thread yet, but someone at the beginning used the example of mother holding child, child touches something --  my mother detests being touched, but oddly will cling much too tight in a hug if she initiates it.  When I was seven or eight, my mother came into my bedroom unexpectedly one night and said she'd read me a story.  This was unprecedented, she had many, many recollections which she would tell at the dinner table and other places, especially when non-FOOs were present, that she had taught me to read before I ever went to school, by reading to me for hours on end when I was pre-kindergarten.  Don't know if that was true or not, but I've no memory of her reading to me anytime when I was older.  Anyway, she came in with a book and said she was going to read to me, and I was delighted, and I snuggled up to her as close as I dared, and when she didn't move, I reached up and touched her face, not roughly, just caressingly, and that tore it.  She leaped up like she'd been shot and stormed out of the room.  She went and got my father and he came in and put the fear of God into me, even though it was already there, LOL.  And I felt awful because I had done that, I can still remember how awful it made me feel.

      And this never changed.  She would occasionally tolerate a brief hug if there was some kind of occasion of celebration, but not very welcoming of it, and of course I wasn't too astute about it, I was always pursuing her trying to prove I was worthy of affection.  When she complained about her back and shoulders aching a few years ago when I was around her for several weeks, I was thrilled because I was always told by friends and co-workers that I gave great backrubs and I was going to give her one, but she froze up under my hands and said, between her teeth, "I HATE being touched."  And I understood, like I couldn't understand as a child, because when people I don't like or don't trust touch ME, I freeze up too, but I lose myself when stressed like that and so I don't effectively get rid of them verbally and upfront like Mother.  (Gotta give her credit for that, and I do.)

      But she would literally grab me in a gorilla grip when she was the one to want to hug, and I never knew what I would get.  There came a time when I started to shy away from her touching me, and it was when I was in my mid 20's and just a few months away from a nervous breakdown, she grabbed me in this bone-crushing, body plastered against body hug which I right away started trying to wiggle away from, it was awful, and she squeezed harder and started literally crushing the breath out of me, and she kissed me on the cheek because I turned my head, I think she wanted to get on my lips but I can't say for sure, and she opened her mouth and I felt her teeth, and while I was desperately trying to crane my head around to get away from the "kiss" she started sucking my face, it was unspeakable, and then SHE BIT ME!  She only got to give me a small nip, because

      it was then I escaped out of the grip.  I've only ever twice since, had that kind of strenth and it was when my two babies were born, it was the same kind of spine curving, huge massive push that broke her grip and got me away from her.  And of course there was no scene, no disruption, everything just went on as before, because it was Saturday and my father? was around.  So there was some kind of a conversation, etc. as though nothing had happened, I don't remember running away screaming or anything normal like that.  Had I done something to make a scene, or anything to object about being treated like that, it would've been turned and twisted against me.  I may not have been  brave, but at least I'm still alive and still around, LOL.

      However, I feel huge shame because I never learned to cope with my parents, and I experience it over and over and over again all the time.  That part of me has never changed, and I have to tell you in all honesty that I don't know if it ever will.  I use the example of the child touching something, but I have had many other things to bring down toxic shame on my head and the awful thing is, I can't get out of it.  Still living in it and actually having it happen via other people not in the FOO.  So I believe I know what shame is, I would love to learn ways to get out ot it.  Thanks for listening. (Can't possibly thank you enough for all the support and tools that are here.)

      s a
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      « Reply #21 on: April 10, 2010, 12:08:07 PM »

      Still around, that just makes me cry.  You poor little bewildered kid, just craving to be close to your mother, and sweetly touching her face out of love got you rejected and abused by both of your parents.  Good Lord in heaven.  These pd people are just so damned damaged and incompetent to parent, and yet so convinced in their narcissism that they have what it takes to nurture little, helpless children.  The level of the narcissism and the profound lack of empathy I read of in post after post just staggers me.  It never ceases to stagger me.  I'm so sorry you experienced such a traumatic rejection,  no child should be subjected to that.

      -LOAnnie
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      « Reply #22 on: April 10, 2010, 04:09:54 PM »

      LOAnnie, still around thank you for contributing some of your story. Still around, your story of your mother's rejection of you is so heartbreaking.   I hope you know that you are deserving of love, intimacy, and comfort.

      Methinkso, one wonderful thing is that we can actually stop the pattern of shame carried across generations.

      Underneath "I can sacrifice myself" (my needs, my time, my comfort, my interests, my growth, my money, my support, my life) is "I don't matter, I am worthless." That's toxic shame.

      Undoing this shame has been the most profound personal project of my life.

      Hi, B&W - would you be willing to share some of the things you've done to work on this issue? What's been successful for you?

      Oceanheart, I absolutely will. We probably have more to discuss about the basics of toxic shame, but one method I used that also helps us identify it in our lives was a simple checklist to see what manifestations of it I could see in my life. I did this with my therapist as well in my reading. Surviving a Borderline Parent has a section called "Confronting Vestiges of the Past" that includes a list of "by-products" (what we tend to call fleas/ my-issuesaround here) of having been raised by a parent with BPD or similar emotional and cognitive patterns. The fleas are:



      • difficulty trusting yourself and others


      • feeling shame*


      • feeling guilt


      • possessing a negative self-concept, including self-definition, self-esteem, self-awareness, self-expression*


      • difficulty setting appropriate boundaries


      • being quick to judge; judging yourself and others harshly*


      • black-and-white thinking


      • feeling out of sync with others*


      • difficulty regulating emotions


      • engaging in self-harming or self-defeating behaviors*




      The authors provide an exercise to help you determine which of these areas are of most concern to you (some won't apply and you may have areas of concern that range from mild to extreme). I've asterisked some sections that apply very closely to toxic shame--

      *Shame, for obvious reasons.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

      *Possessing a negative self-concept because these core beliefs about ourselves flow out of shame and reinforce it.

      *Judging harshly because it represents "shamelessness," in Bradshaw's terms--perfectionism or an impossible standard that when (inevitably) not met, causes a flush of shame about oneself or rejection of others.

      *Feeling out of sync is probably the biggest stretch, but I link it to shame as well. There is a sense many of us develop that we don't belong or we're not like others. That sense of difference can be deeply shameful. We can even feel we are not quite human like others, not deserving of kindness, respect, age- or situation-appropriate care, or love.

      *Engaging in self-harm because these are some of the compulsive behaviors that distract us from shame.

      The self-test exercise for those sections is here:

      Stop and Think: Where Are You

      For each of the following statements within each area, rate how closely you identify--1 indicating that you don't identify at all; 10 indicating that you identify very strongly.

      Feeling Shame

      hit If I make even a silly mistake, I feel ashamed.

      hit I feel undeserving of people's kindness, love, affection

      hit Sometimes I feel like I don't have the right to just "be."

      hit I can't seem to do anything right.

      Possessing a Negative Self-Concept

      hit Deep down, I wonder who I am.

      hit It's a challenge for me to identify how I really feel about an issue or event. Sometimes I just feel numb, or the feelings can be so overwhelming, it's hard to separate them.

      hit I often repress or deny my feelings and say things like, "Oh, it wasn't that bad."

      hit If I don't have the same beliefs and feelings as others, I worry that they won't accept me.

      hit I'm uncomfortable telling others, directly, how I feel and addressing issues with them.

      hit I prefer to stay in the background; I feel uncomfortable when I'm the center of attention.

      hit I feel unlovable.

      Judging Yourself and Others Harshly

      hit Doing things exactly right is important to me.

      hit People will think less of me if I make a mistake.

      hit I've been told I'm a perfectionist, and that may be true.

      hit I find that I'm quick to judge others (in positive or negative ways).

      hit I tend to focus on people's flaws rather than their good points.

      hit I tend to focus on my flaws rather than my good points.

      hit It's generally hard for me to accept someone just as they are. I find that I wish they could be different.

      hit It's hard for me to accept myself. I often wish I were different.

      hit If I'm with someone and they do something wrong, it reflects on me.

      Feeling Out of Sync with Others

      hit I was a late-bloomer in some ways; there are things I realize I need ot learn now that others learned when they were kids.

      hit I sometimes feel many years older than my contemporaries.

      hit People have told me that I seem wise beyond my years.

      hit No one really understands me or what I've been through.

      hit I'm different than other people.

      hit I feel like I'm playing catch-up all the time.

      hit I can become highly anxious in new social situations.

      Engaging in Self-Harming or Self-Defeating Behaviors

      hit There have been periods in my life where I've been quite promiscuous.

      hit I show my feelings for people I'm interested in romantically through physical intimacy.

      hit When someone suggests I not do something, I take it as a challenge and do it anyway.

      hit I beleive in throwing caution to the wind. You only live once, right?

      hit I use things like alcohol, drugs, tobacco, sex, gambling, or shopping to make myself feel better.

      hit I've had a problem in the past with addiction.

      Areas of high scores indicate places to focus your recovery work.
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      « Reply #23 on: April 10, 2010, 06:21:57 PM »

      This is an interesting thread to me.  I just started reading "healing the shame that binds you" by John Bradshaw.  Thanks

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      « Reply #24 on: April 10, 2010, 06:41:00 PM »

      Quote from: B&W
      We probably have more to discuss about the basics of toxic shame... .

      Sorry for rushing things Smiling (click to insert in post) I just found this topic very timely and useful and wanted to get started on what we can do. Didn't mean to try to control the direction. haha, I think I'm feeling a little ashamed   But thanks so much for starting this!

      For me, most of the statements rang very true, but especially the "feeling-out-of-sync" - I've chronically isolated myself for years (except for unhealthy romantic relationships) because I feel so alienated from other people. I want to belong but don't feel I deserve to unless I'm, well, good enough - and I'm way too far from that, so I just keep to myself. And people like to use the word "eccentric" around me, well, because I am. Even though it's used with affection (they say it is), it still makes me feel kinda bad about myself. Who wants to be weird?
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      « Reply #25 on: April 10, 2010, 06:54:09 PM »

      Quote from: B&W
      We probably have more to discuss about the basics of toxic shame... .

      Sorry for rushing things Smiling (click to insert in post) I just found this topic very timely and useful and wanted to get started on what we can do. Didn't mean to try to control the direction. haha, I think I'm feeling a little ashamed   But thanks so much for starting this!

      I'm super glad you asked!  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Those "what we can do" strategies are exactly what I hope we can explore and where we end up. I also hope others will jump in with their questions and approaches that have worked for them.

      I also felt quite drawn to the out of sync section. I think when you have so many secrets you are meant to keep as a child, you swallow them and they become spaces inside you that separate you from other people. You know the face you present to the world isn't really true and you are set apart.

      xoxox

      B&W
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      « Reply #26 on: April 11, 2010, 03:04:45 PM »

      I must confess I am not familiar with Bradshaw's writing surrounding shame but I am profoundly uncomfortable with the concept of "healthy shame".   I think these two words are mutually exclusive.   I looked up the term "shame" in in dictionary and the words used in the definition are:  guilt, blameworthiness, dishonor, and disgrace. 

      There are other ways to get to the good aspects of what is referred to as "healthy shame" 

      If the goal is humility there are more organic ways to achieve this.   I think of the song "I hope you dance" and the words from it "I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean."    Just being out in nature and connecting with the cycles of life, are enough for me to gain humility.   

      If the goal is to recognize when we make mistakes, I would prefer to use the paradigm of self-responsibility to take ownership of our own mistakes.  We're all human, we don't need to be feeling shame for making mistakes unless we are deliberately setting out to hurt others (and believe me abusers never feel shame). 

      If the goal is community, I would think its an open heart that will achieve that goal.

      If the goal is creativity and learning, I think we need to get in touch with our inner child - children have a natural curiosity and love of learning and if allowed to develop wonderful creativity. 

      If the goal is spirituality, I would again go back to the lessons that nature has to offer. 

      Shame, guilt and fear - to my thinking - are the tools of the abuser to exert power and control over someone else.  Its also used in other situations and never to positive effect.   I just can't view shame as being healthy in any circumstance short of say evil recognizing itself.

      Those are just my thoughts,

      LD
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      « Reply #27 on: April 11, 2010, 05:23:27 PM »

      For me, it's one thing to own having done something shameful vs BEING shamed, as in toxic shame.

      My mother would castigate me with shame over nothing and I mean absolutely nothing. She was my mother. I internalized it.

      I also think when a child (IF a child) misbehaves the amount of shame a parent projects onto/into the child has an impact on how shameful the child's behavior feels. Ex: said in a very low pitched voice full of shock "How could you DO that"! then walking the parent turning away as if they are repelled. I don't see that as a useful too in any parenting.
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      « Reply #28 on: April 12, 2010, 07:26:08 AM »

      I am profoundly uncomfortable with the concept of "healthy shame".   I think these two words are mutually exclusive. 

      I don't know, I found this to be very helpful.  For me, it's very important to own my own mistakes, because that's exactly what mom never did - whenever she did something wrong, it was my fault.  I never want to do that to someone!  And I never want to be so weak, so pathetically fragile, that I can't handle admitting that I did something wrong, or to try to make amends to the person that I hurt. 

      I really like Bradshaw's distinction between healthy shame as being something you can fix - you realize what you did, you make an apology or restitution, and you resolve not to do it again and - you're free!  It's over, without damaging your sense of self.  Whereas toxic shame is where a mistake becomes an essential part of who you are and how you relate to the world, where you are not an individual who makes mistakes but an individual who IS a mistake.  That's when it become this wound that never heals, that people try to fix with addiction or other destructive behaviors. 

      He writes that abusers are "shameless" - people who SHOULD feel ashamed of what they're doing, but don't.  And so their children or the people who are abused absorb that shame for them, out of a sense that *someone* needs to take responsibility for what's happening, and since the person who ought to isn't, they will themselves, even though it's unjust.  And as adults, we survivors need to work on putting that sense of shame back where it belongs - on the people who hurt innocent bystanders rather than deal with their own issues. 
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      « Reply #29 on: April 12, 2010, 09:30:15 AM »

      Yes, I like what salome was saying.

      I was "shamed" when my parents caught me masturbating around puberty. Instead of dealing with it in a healthy, constructive way, my mom basically accused me of "doing something dirty", let alone doing it in front of my opposite-sex parent. I was toxically ashamed of my natural drive for years.

      I felt healthy shame when a close friend of mine told me, "you know, you can be cruel." It was news to me up until he said anything (and I give him so much credit for telling me it in a really self-saving, non-judgmental way). It made me look at my behavior and it's consequences on someone I loved, and change it because I hated making him feel bad. After he told me, I noticed in myself a tendency to cut deep at others when I felt the most threatened and was able to learn to not fight dirty like that.

      Shame is a natural emotion for a social species like ours and I think it is helpful in letting the individual know his/her behavior is hurtful. But just like all the rest of our emotions, it can be used against us. I think I'm the worst enemy I have when it comes to shaming myself - I must have internalized it as well... .
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      « Reply #30 on: April 12, 2010, 09:54:50 AM »

      Sorry for monopolizing the conversation   but I happen to have a loot of free time   and obviously a lot of issues!

      I also remember getting caught drinking when I was around 14. I lived in a community where everyone knew each other and everyone knew my parents because they were teachers. So anything I did got right back to them pretty quickly and the sister of the guy we were drinking with ratted us out. The next day I had to wait for my mom to get back from church, knowing she knew. My stomach felt like a black hole. I waited for her outside. She didn't say anything when she arrived, but the look she gave me caused me to burst out in tears and ask, ":)o you hate me?" She said, "no, I'm just really disappointed in you" and walked inside and closed the door. I felt like I was  a rotten kid. There could be severe penalties for underage drinking since I lived on an army base on an island and my parents could have lost their jobs and we would have had to leave if I had gotten caught by the cops instead. What a horrible daughter I was!

      I know to many people who have undergone horrific abuse by their parents, it sounds like I'm whining over nothing. And that's probably true. But there's something to be said about chronic "benign neglect" being destructive, too. Invalidation as a child is painful; never being right enough, never good enough, never being what they wanted, always being the one to blame (or even just feeling that way, whether true or not). And with the thought in the back of my head that since I was adopted, they could always take me back, like some defective toy... .I used to make the joke that since I was born on Mother's Day, my biomom must not have liked her present, because she returned it (she was supposed to give me up, changed her mind, kept me for 9 days, changed her mind, then gave me up where I spent 2 weeks in the hospital with thrush before my adoptive parents took me home). Feeling like fundamentally you're unloveable by everyone important in your life. What's the common denominator? Me. How is a kid not supposed to come to that conclusion?
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      « Reply #31 on: April 12, 2010, 10:12:16 AM »

      B&W

      I think my behaviours (not trusting, emotionally explosive) are things carried forward from "conditioning" of my childhood.  I think for me the idea was that my BPDm conditioned me so well that when I feel critisized, I react in a negative and distructive way.  I usually self sacrifice, but then I get annoyed with myself and others for "taking advantage of me" even though I set myself in that role.  I struggle to "let go" of things.  I usually explode of something stupid then I shame and guilt myself for being an idiot... .and allow it to drag me down.
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      « Reply #32 on: April 12, 2010, 11:22:40 AM »

      So much of that list applies to me... .but how can I change it?
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      « Reply #33 on: April 12, 2010, 11:47:16 PM »

      Wow, so much interesting stuff here. So much pain, too.  xoxox

      Thinking about LionDreamer's concern over the term "healthy shame," it strikes me as a wonderful thing that we can have these differences. It's not black and white (in all due deference to my own screen name  Smiling (click to insert in post)); we can take what's useful to each of us and leave the rest.

      I personally do see shame as an emotion that comes with being human, just like fear, joy, guilt, happiness, and so on. What I think goes wrong in a shame-based family is what the stories here have indicated. We are shamed in profound ways when we're too young, undefined, and vulnerable to let it roll off us; instead, we absorb it.

      From hope4survivors.com (quoting Bradshaw):
      Excerpt
      "Toxic shame results from the unexpected exposure of vulnerable aspects of a child's self.  This exposure takes place before the child has any ego boundaries to protect himself.  The early shaming events happen in a context where the child has no ability to choose.  The felt experience of shame is the feeling of being exposed and seen when one is not ready to be seen."  Toxic shame often manifests itself in the form of dreams in which a person appears naked or in their underwear in inappropriate places.  These dreams can also involve being unprepared, as in being in front of a large group and being unable to deliver a speech, being in a classroom and not having studied for an exam, etc.

      Our shame meters are "off" until we do something about it, just like our fear, anger, and other "meters" are sometimes off. (See US: Respecting Our Anger for more on exploring ways to rethink our own anger.)

      When our shame "meters" are off, they are easily triggered. We make a small mistake, and we feel profound shame. Someone makes a joke, which we could take in humor, but instead we feel profound shame. I found a hole in my sock not long ago, and I felt... .profound shame, quickly followed in my mind by "This is ridiculous! It's a hole in my sock. I'm not out there performing dastardly acts! It's a hole in my sock!"

      Oceanheart and kkriesel asked the question we all have to ask: What can we do about it?

      As the hole in my sock example illustrates, I'm by no means the poster child for completely eliminating toxic shame. But I've done a lot of work on it and feel immensely better as a result. So I'll share the strategies that have worked for me, as well as general information on ways to recalibrate that old shame meter. I hope others who are working on this will share as well.

      The key strategies that have helped me (more detail later) include:



      • Examining and questioning specific negative core beliefs.


      • Developing healthy lifestyle patterns


      • Mindfulness practice


      • Supportive therapy with inner child work


      • EMDR/trauma recovery




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      « Reply #34 on: April 13, 2010, 12:03:53 AM »

      B&W,

      You're supplying lots of useful information. I took an earlier test from here and though I felt I scored low on most, I scored the highest on the out of sync section. And I analyzed that. My out of sync is mostly due to exposure/invalidation by foo.So in a sense, I could be projecting their twisted interpretation of 'me'.

      I'm wondering, and hope others will follow, how much improvement they have gained to ditch toxic shame by being subjected to healthy people who mirror back to them appropriatness? I KNOW that having contact with more healthy people than my family for years helped me come a long way in feeling much less toxic shame.

      And as always, I hope others can make progress in ditching that 'monkey on the back' that was by none of their own doing.
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      « Reply #35 on: April 13, 2010, 12:21:17 AM »

      I'd like to elaborate on what I just posted about being subjected to foo. I can 'feel' exactly what I am talking about.

      It's as if DH and I live in two different worlds. For many years my foo, even momster seemed like all the abuse/damage was behind us and I know now that I was in a position to project that onto siblings. A lot of projection on my part.

      But I was sensing the two worlds up to probably ten years ago, and often, while things seemed relatively 'normal' around my foo, I'd come away feeling bad. Even brief phone calls, I can recognize now, had me feeling bad, though at the time I did not analyze or even 'own' it. I suppose I am talking about being triggered by very subtle things I did not want to see.

      I also have learned that these things are why sometimes it is vital to cease all contact with foo for growth and survival. And  believe me, that has broken my heart for a year now, especially these last few months. I am still vulnerable to be cast in these ugly shadows they have in their minds of me due to their lack of seeking professional help/growth. It's like I would feel this pall after contact with them but not enough to get my full attention.

      I hope this makes sense. I am saying that we can grow into a better place, but it can be hard to protect our growth from things that drag our subconsious into the past.

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      « Reply #36 on: April 13, 2010, 02:46:35 PM »

      Quote from methinkso

      Excerpt
      I am saying that we can grow into a better place, but it can be hard to protect our growth from things that drag our subconsious into the past.

      Yes, it sure does make sense.   I think you're right on here as well:

      Excerpt
      I KNOW that having contact with more healthy people than my family for years helped me come a long way in feeling much less toxic shame.



      Let me add that to our list of recovery strategies. Another I should add is fostering positive entitlement, as explored in the Survivors' Guide in the right hand panel of the Coping and Healing Board and also in this workshop:

      US: Positive entitlement--taking the initiative to share in life's riches

      We often view entitlement in a negative light, but there's also a positive version--honoring our own self-worth. Many raised in a BPD environment suffer from low self-esteem and fear and anxiety about pursuing our own fulfillment. This workshop explores the concept of positive entitlement, how to evaluate areas of self-esteem to work on, and ways to embrace positive entitlement.

      https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=111984.0

      Recovery Strategies for Toxic Shame

      1. Examining and questioning specific negative core beliefs.

      2. Developing healthy lifestyle patterns

      3. Spending time with and learning from (mirroring) healthy people

      4. Mindfulness practice

      5. Supportive therapy with inner child work

      6. Fostering positive entitlement

      7. EMDR/trauma recovery

      On #1, Surviving the Borderline Parent has very helpful things to say:

      Excerpt
      Challenging Core Beliefs

      Let's say you wonder whether you really are lovable. Growing up, you endured much erratic and perhaps cruel behavior from a parent who was inconsistent with affection, raged often and projected her angry feelings onto you, accusing you of being a "bitter" person who caused fights to erupt in your wake. Today, as an adult, have you noticed that you've found yourself in situations where that has indeed happened? Have you chosen friends who say or convey similar sentiments to you? Have you ever noticed that you react to people defensively as though they must be thinking you're a bitter person, when really they may not have any such notion? Have you lashed out at someone because you thought they were attacking you, even though they weren't? Your thoughts and your subsequent actions and reactions reinforce your core beliefs. They act as a self-fulfilling prophesy. They allow you to say, "See, I really am bitter."

      That's the bad news. The good news is that once you can identify and challenge such beliefs, your experience changes too. As you stop seeing yourself as a bitter, unlovable person, you'll increasingly act with openness and acceptance towards others. People will notice and respond in much the same way. You'll seek out healthier folks to surround yourself with, and, rather than reinforce your earlier beliefs, new experiences will help you change them.

      I'll add in more on challenging core beliefs in a bit.

      B&W
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      « Reply #37 on: April 13, 2010, 02:55:13 PM »

       Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

      Great topic. I have to come back to this. Very triggered

      I agree with some others. Most important topic I have run across in this whole board.
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      « Reply #38 on: April 13, 2010, 08:15:09 PM »

      B&W... .I have totally missed this thread.  I've been a little off in la la land after my T session last week where we discussed the adult ADHD.  However, this is extremely timely to that pre-diagnosis reading I'm supposed to do.  I can answer yes to a lot of your questions up there, so I'm gonna copy/paste into Word, print, and take this to my appointment this week.  I keep resisting a biological explanation for my perfectionistic tendencies because I feel like I am the way I am more because of nuture (or lack thereof) than nature, and this might be the key.  Thank you so much for starting this thread.  I'm gonna go back and read more, and try to keep up now so I can see if it fits like I think it does.

      xoxox
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      « Reply #39 on: April 13, 2010, 11:22:29 PM »

      Backtome09 and BMama,

      xoxox  xoxox

      Following up with the "challenging core beliefs" strategy, here's an article about cognitive traps we get caught in. If I go back to my very simple "I have a hole in my sock" = shame example, I can see several of these. (More after the article.)

      Ten Forms of Twisted Thinking

      By Dr. David Burns

      Companion article to bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=56200.0

      From The Feeling Good Handbook (Plume Publishers, 1999)


      Excerpt
      1. All-or-nothing thinking - You see things in black-or-white categories. If a situation falls short of perfect, you see it as a total failure. When a young woman on a diet ate a spoonful of ice cream, she told herself, "I've blown my diet completely." This thought upset her so much that she gobbled down an entire quart of ice cream.

      2. Overgeneralization - You see a single negative event, such as a romantic rejection or a career reversal, as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using words such as "always" or "never" when you think about it. A depressed salesman became terribly upset when he noticed bird dung on the window of his car. He told himself, "Just my luck! Birds are always crapping on my car!"

      3. Mental Filter - You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors a beaker of water. Example: You receive many positive comments about your presentation to a group of associates at work, but one of them says something mildly critical. You obsess about his reaction for days and ignore all the positive feedback.

      4. Discounting the positive - You reject positive experiences by insisting that they "don't count." If you do a good job, you may tell yourself that it wasn't good enough or that anyone could have done as well. Discounting the positives takes the joy out of life and makes you feel inadequate and unrewarded.

      5. Jumping to conclusions - You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion.

      Mind Reading : Without checking it out, you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you.

      Fortune-telling : You predict that things will turn out badly. Before a test you may tell yourself, "I'm really going to blow it. What if I flunk?" If you're depressed you may tell yourself, "I'll never get better."

      6. Magnification - You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings, or you minimize the importance of your desirable qualities. This is also called the "binocular trick."

      7. Emotional Reasoning - You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel terrified about going on airplanes. It must be very dangerous to fly." Or, "I feel guilty. I must be a rotten person." Or, "I feel angry. This proves that I'm being treated unfairly." Or, "I feel so inferior. This means I'm a second rate person." Or, "I feel hopeless. I must really be hopeless."

      8. "Should" statements - You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be. After playing a difficult piece on the piano, a gifted pianist told herself, "I shouldn't have made so many mistakes." This made her feel so disgusted that she quit practicing for several days. "Musts," "oughts" and "have tos" are similar offenders.

      "Should statements" that are directed against yourself lead to guilt and frustration. Should statements that are directed against other people or the world in general, lead to anger and frustration: "He shouldn't be so stubborn and argumentative!"

      Many people try to motivate themselves with shoulds and shouldn'ts, as if they were delinquents who had to be punished before they could be expected to do anything. "I shouldn't eat that doughnut." This usually doesn't work because all these shoulds and musts make you feel rebellious and you get the urge to do just the opposite. Dr. Albert Ellis has called this " must erbation." I call it the "shouldy" approach to life.

      9. Labeling - Labeling is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking. Instead of saying "I made a mistake," you attach a negative label to yourself: "I'm a loser." You might also label yourself "a fool" or "a failure" or "a jerk." Labeling is quite irrational because you are not the same as what you do. Human beings exist, but "fools," "losers" and "jerks" do not. These labels are just useless abstractions that lead to anger, anxiety, frustration and low self-esteem.

      You may also label others. When someone does something that rubs you the wrong way, you may tell yourself: "He's an S.O.B." Then you feel that the problem is with that person's "character" or "essence" instead of with their thinking or behavior. You see them as totally bad. This makes you feel hostile and hopeless about improving things and leaves very little room for constructive communication.

      10. Personalization and Blame - Personalization comes when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn't entirely under your control. When a woman received a note that her child was having difficulty in school, she told herself, "This shows what a bad mother I am," instead of trying to pinpoint the cause of the problem so that she could be helpful to her child. When another woman's husband beat her, she told herself, "If only I was better in bed, he wouldn't beat me." Personalization leads to guilt, shame and feelings of inadequacy.

      Some people do the opposite. They blame other people or their circumstances for their problems, and they overlook ways they might be contributing to the problem: "The reason my marriage is so lousy is because my spouse is totally unreasonable." Blame usually doesn't work very well because other people will resent being scapegoated and they will just toss the blame right back in your lap. It's like the game of hot potato--no one wants to get stuck with it.

      So that dang hole in my sock... .

      All-or-nothing thinking: If I have a hole in my sock, I'm falling apart.

      Overgeneralization: Nothing I do is ever right. I'm always a mess.

      Mental filter: Instead of "I look great and have one tiny thing wrong that I can fix," I obsess about the small flaw.

      Mind reading: Someone is looking at me funny. They must see the hole in my sock and think I'm falling apart.

      Should statements: I should be able to avoid mistakes like this. I'm a mess.

      Why should I be so focused on being a "mess"? I experienced periods of severe neglect as a child... .I was indeed a mess. I was dirty, had worn, mismatched clothing that wasn't washed. My home was a mess. I felt shame for this (what's wrong with me that there's nobody to take care of me?). I was also tormented by others for it. Now when I perceive something that indicates "I'm a mess," it triggers these associations.



      • Do you recognize any of these thought patterns?


      • How do they relate to your feelings of shame?


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      « Reply #40 on: April 13, 2010, 11:29:42 PM »

      At least eight of those "forms of twisted thinking" apply to my high-functioning uBPDm. 


      Jenk
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      « Reply #41 on: April 14, 2010, 02:11:08 PM »

      I can answer yes to a lot of your questions up there, so I'm gonna copy/paste into Word, print, and take this to my appointment this week. 

      Well, I'm doing the same and working on it at home. Great idea BMama!

      Thank you so much for starting this thread.  I'm gonna go back and read more, and try to keep up now so I can see if it fits like I think it does.

      xoxox

      me too! Thanks so much for this thread. I was right in the middle of dealing with this Smiling (click to insert in post)  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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      « Reply #42 on: April 14, 2010, 03:19:38 PM »

      Even when basic needs were cared for and my mother seemed very "on" as a parent (there were such times), I was acutely aware of her own needs (for comfort, guidance, reinforcement, care, protection, to keep her tenuous hold on reality from shattering). I completely gave up on the idea that I should have any needs of my own. My parents abandoned me and I abandoned myself. This took the form of a recurrent phrase/thought/feeling: I can sacrifice myself.

      Underneath "I can sacrifice myself" (my needs, my time, my comfort, my interests, my growth, my money, my support, my life) is "I don't matter, I am worthless." That's toxic shame.

      Thank you, B&W for expressing that so clearly.  This is probably my biggest problem having grown up in my FOO.  The idea that what I wanted wasn't a consideration in anything.  My physical needs were met.   I was fed, clothed, housed, received medical care and an education (which, I realize, was a helluva lot more that a lot of kids got) but it was all with the pervasive message that I didn't DARE express a want or desire for anything beyond that. 

      It frustrates my poor husband, who, when asking something as simple as "What do you want for dinner?" will get an evasive answer out of me.  "Oh, whatever.  What are YOU tasting?"  Even with this man who I trust with my life (and more importantly, my heart) there's a part of me that is afraid to ask for what I want.  :'(
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      « Reply #43 on: April 15, 2010, 12:17:35 AM »

      I've grown to be very comfortable asking, even damanding in some situations what I want/expect of others. EXCEPT when it came/comes to momster/foo.

      And through this thread, and a few bad dreams, I am learning that my foo is still stuck 'back' in their twisted perception momster projected onto me and they accepted rather than put the pieces to the puzzle together through their own growth.

      While my marriage is not, nor has ever been perfect, I have a very loving supportive husband and I know that he also helped me grow into taking my own piece of the pie.

      I wonder if there are exercises/tips to help one move on to feeling more comfortable with their needs/wants.
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      « Reply #44 on: April 15, 2010, 12:38:06 AM »

      At least eight of those "forms of twisted thinking" apply to my high-functioning uBPDm. 


      Jenk

      Well, we learned them somewhere close to home, I suspect.  Smiling (click to insert in post) The good news is that we can "untwist" that thinking. I'll paste in the companion article about how to do that below.

      One thing that's over and over helped me in different aspects of recovery, and in particular in relation to toxic shame recovery, is simply taking an observer's stance and gently questioning my inner critic.

      CrazyNoMore, you mentioned your (frustrating to your husband and probably to you) lack of entitlement, which is so strong that you don't even say what you want for dinner.

      methinkso, you mentioned tips on feeling more comfortable with needs/wants. There are probably many, but simply noting the reluctance, naming it, questioning it, and deciding consciously sometimes to push through it can be successful.

      So, elaborating on CrazyNoMore's example:

      DH: What do you want for dinner?

      You (hesitating, about to say "What are you tasting?". Pausing. Then, to DH: "Let me think about it for a minute."

      Internally: What do I want for dinner? I don't know. (Observing. What am I feeling in my body? In my mind?) I'm uncomfortable. I want him to pick. Why? Because he may not like what I want. So? He asked. But he may get upset with me if he doesn't get what he wants. So? He loves you. But my needs aren't as important. Why not? Because I don't really matter that much. Why not? Because I'm not important. Why not? Hmmm... .

      Conscious reset. My needs are important. I am important. What do I want for dinner? I want pizza. I'm going to say that. If DH wants something else, that's okay, but I am allowed to have an opinion. He did ask!

      You: "Pizza sounds great. What do you think?"

      Surviving the Borderline Parent has a couple of related exercises that I'll add in as well, later.

      Here's the "untwisting" article.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

      Ten Ways to Untwist Your Thinking

      Companion article to bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=56199.0

      From The Feeling Good Handbook, by David D. Burns, M.D. © 1989

      Excerpt
      Now that you've identified your twisted thinking, use the suggestions to untwist those thoughts.

      1. Identify The Distortion: Write down your negative thoughts so you can see which of the ten cognitive distortions you're involved in. This will make it easier to think about the problem in a more positive and realistic way.

      2. Examine The Evidence: Instead of assuming that your negative thought is true, examine the actual evidence for it. For example, if you feel that you never do anything right, you could list several things you have done successfully.

      3. The Double-Standard Method: Instead of putting yourself down in a harsh, condemning way, talk to yourself in the same compassionate way you would talk to a friend with a similar problem.

      4. The Experimental Technique: Do an experiment to test the validity of your negative thought. For example, if during an episode of panic, you become terrified that you're about to die of a heart attack, you could jog or run up and down several flights of stairs. This will prove that your heart is healthy and strong.

      5. Thinking In Shades Of Grey: Although this method may sound drab, the effects can be illuminating. Instead of thinking about your problems in all-or-nothing extremes, evaluate things on a scale of 0 to 100. When things don't work out as well as you hoped, think about the experience as a partial success rather than a complete failure. See what you can learn from the situation.

      6. The Survey Method: Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and attitudes are realistic. For example, if you feel that public speaking anxiety is abnormal and shameful, ask several friends if they ever felt nervous before they gave a talk.

      7. Define Terms: When you label yourself 'inferior' or 'a fool' or 'a loser,' ask, "What is the definition of 'a fool'?" You will feel better when you realize that there is no such thing as 'a fool' or 'a loser.'

      8. The Semantic Method: Simply substitute language that is less colorful and emotionally loaded. This method is helpful for 'should statements.' Instead of telling yourself, "I shouldn't have made that mistake," you can say, "It would be better if I hadn't made that mistake."

      9. Re-attribution: Instead of automatically assuming that you are "bad" and blaming yourself entirely for a problem, think about the many factors that may have contributed to it. Focus on solving the problem instead of using up all your energy blaming yourself and feeling guilty.

      10. Cost-Benefit Analysis: List the advantages and disadvantages of a feeling (like getting angry when your plane is late), a negative thought (like "No matter how hard I try, I always screw up", or a behavior pattern (like overeating and lying around in bed when you're depressed). You can also use the cost benefit analysis to modify a self-defeating belief such as, "I must always try to be perfect."

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      « Reply #45 on: April 15, 2010, 12:42:36 AM »

      I"d like to elaborate on my last post. Some here know that since momster's death I have been having more processing/adjustment due to foo's reaction to her death (the never ending ride one might call it) and dealing with the mess she left behind.

      This occurance, which just led to a very bad dream, happened just a year ago. Foo was called to momsters to dig into the garage. Going through things, I was cleaning out a corner. Picked up what was a ceramic container one would receive a plant in for a birth (baby'ish and darling). As I turned to decide whether to keep it or toss it (since afterall, evilsis demanded I even keep melted candles), I saw something move.

      As I approached the exit of the garage, I saw it was roaches. I have always had a terrible, terrible reaction to roaches and even spoke about that here before. Anyway. I made it outside without them coming out of the container. And what I saw came to me in a bad dream a few nights ago. Those roaches were literally crawling under each other to avoid the light. It would have been amazing to see had I not been so absolutely sickened. I got the container put on the ground, commenced jumping and shaking my hands, trying to 'sling off' what I had seen, then got back into the house for bug spray. (btw. momster kept an extremely organized/clean house but hoarded in the garage, 'nother story).

      So between more processing, and this thread, and the bad dreams I've come to see the significance of what has so terribly bothered me about roaches - that undescribable fear of them since I was in my early twenties. I watched these roaches crawling all over/under each other with a manic intensity that I can now recognize was/is how my family of origin crawled all over each other. Would sell their soul for a quarter.

      The significance of this, to me, is the SHAME that I was in denial about for decades and have been facing these last few months. That my family is no better than roaches. I hope this can be accepted and not be rejected as bizarre. I swear to you I have even encountered pygmy rattlers, calmly backed off. Scorpions, spiders and lizards. NOTHING would send that shiver of strong emotions down my spine like roaches. Roaches have a stigma of dirt, nasty, horrible, etc. Things in my parents/foo I denied. Maybe I could not admit this because I felt ashamed from being one of them.

      The more we deny shame, the more powerful it becomes.
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      « Reply #46 on: April 15, 2010, 12:58:15 AM »

      Thanks for these additions, B&W. I'd like to address the issue of learning to get our needs met. The example of a dinner request is a good one and can show members that when they are in a safe place (away from the environment of the disordered parent), it can be very easy to state our wants and accept the intent of love it is being given in.

      Compromise is possible outside the control of the pd'd parent.

      I've been noticing a lot lately how soft spoken people are in the public arena vs 'momster's arena' and how easily, and nonquestioningly the other party complies to a request. I was in a gov building today with a complete trainwreck of paperwork that was needed by nobody but myself. The gentlemen spent three hours making phone calls to a federal agency, faxing papers, etc. I was feeling pretty hopeless for a couple of those hours until I heard him gently tell the other 'voice' on the phone that he'd really like to get it cleared up today. By then I was just about hopeless, but he persevered and I got the paper I needed.

      The world is so much better than our past. I will order any pizza you would like (smile)
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      « Reply #47 on: April 15, 2010, 03:11:31 PM »

      The world is so much better than our past. I will order any pizza you would like (smile)

      Beautifully said!
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      « Reply #48 on: April 16, 2010, 11:27:24 AM »

                 
      Excerpt
      Maybe I could not admit this because I felt ashamed from being one of them.

      The more we deny shame, the more powerful it becomes.

      This as well. Very important realization, methinkso. Thank you.

      I might think the cockroach image was bizarre if I didn't know exactly where you're coming from, but I do! Bradshaw even has a section in his book about how our shame can take the form of obsessive/compulsive thoughts and images that come into our consciousness in an intrusive way.

      methinkso, you bring up the point of feeling shame "for being one of them." The reader might say, "You had no control over the family you were born into! It's not your fault!" And that's true, but I also know it's not enough.  Smiling (click to insert in post) I just added a new book review, 8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery. The author of that book, Babette Rothschild,  talks about shame and trauma. She describes how most trauma survivors blame themselves for something, on some level, no matter how much in reality the survivor is truly not to blame. (And if the survivor's actions did contribute in some ways, even inadvertently, that fact will often become obsessive for the survivor and make it difficult to move on.) It seems to be human nature to ask, What did I do to deserve this? Why did I do X? Why didn't I do Y? Self-forgiveness is usually part of the process of resolving our shame. Rothschild notes:

      Excerpt
      One fact of trauma is that it is out of your control. Everyone who has suffered trauma has issues about control because trauma does not happen when you have it--when you can stop the car, fend off the attacker, defuse th bomb, and so on. If you are recovering from trauma, you also were unable to stop whatever it was that happened. There may be one reason you could not prevent your trauma or there might be several. Here are some (but not all) possibilities:



      • You were not old, big, or strong enough, or you were outnumbered.


      • You did not have the help you needed.


      • Someone made a mistake.


      • It was an unpreventable act of nature.


      • There was no alert or warning.


      • You did not have the legal rights necessary.


      • You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.


      • You were lied to, threatened, or coerced.


      • You did not have adequate or correct information or training.


      • You froze, dissociated, or "went dead."



      If you've not thought about your experiences in this way, consider making a list of the ways you did not have control over what happened to you. When you feel shame for things over which you have identified you had no or little control, remind yourself of this, "I had little or no control over X because... ."

      An example from my life is the shame I have felt over the physical state of our home. To help me resolve this shame, I have identified the many, many ways I had no control over this situation as a small child. This list serves as a reminder to me and helps me to shape my internal narrative in a way that relieves the shame feelings.

      All of this is to say that self-forgiveness is another strategy to add to our recovery strategies list.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

      US: How can we forgive ourselves?

      Much has been written about forgiving the people who have hurt us or who are causing us pain.  But there is very little written about forgiving ourselves.   This workshop is not about forgiving our abusers or those who didn’t protect us but about forgiving ourselves.  It’s about learning to silence that voice that berates us inside our own heads.  

      https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=113483.0
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      « Reply #49 on: April 16, 2010, 01:05:36 PM »

      B&W, I copied out your workshop items, and answered the questions, then sent this by email to my T ahead of my appointment yesterday.  He said it was helpful, and to keep sending him things that I find useful... .that makes best use of our limited appointment time each week.  50 minutes is not nearly enough time, is it?   Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

      He is still concentrating on the ADHD part of my work, and I may end up taking some sort of meds.  He thinks if he can reduce some of my anxiety due to that, my behavioral type T will go a lot better.  I'm still thinking.  Although, he's not setting aside that I have these problems because of nature AND nuture (or lack thereof).

      Thank you for all of this.  It's a lot to think about, but couldn't have been more timely. 
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      « Reply #50 on: April 17, 2010, 10:10:07 AM »

      BMama, I'm so glad this has been helpful. It must be strange to be coping with the idea of adult ADHD.   And no, 50 minutes is not enough. Sometimes I think we need to set up a camp bed in our therapists' offices for a bit, until we get all this stuff worked out.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

      This workshop's been running for a while here on the Coping and Healing Board, so before I move it over to the workshop board, I want to be sure we have a good summary of recovery strategies. I'll also add in a few more exercises on changing your thinking.

      Recovery Strategies for Toxic Shame


      1. Examining and questioning specific negative core beliefs.

      See the twisted thinking articles and other exercises in this workshop.

      2. Developing healthy lifestyle patterns.

      Sounds like a good topic for another workshop! I know many here have described the benefits of exercise, good sleep routines, exposure to nature and art, and in general, regular, self-nourishing routines that build and sustain our sense of worth, order, and beauty. Such habits help to heal from the chaos and inconsistency of our earlier lives.

      3. Spending time with and learning from (mirroring) healthy people.

      We have a workshop on the characteristics of healthy relationships:

      The Characteristics of Healthy Relationships

      Relationships are learned behaviors. Without good models in our families, we have to learn elsewhere what to strive for. This article describes the key features of healthy partner relationships, such as respect, trust and support, and honesty and accountability. Most of these characteristics apply to all close relationships, including those with parents, siblings, in-laws, and children. Learn more:

      https://bpdfamily.com/tools/articles15.htm

      And one on red flags in relationships:

      Red Flags in Relationships

      Trauma survivors are often described as having "broken pickers," meaning the self-protective instincts most adults have are skewed or missing for those who experienced trauma early in life. Learn how to identify "red flags" early on in relationships and teach yourself to be a better "picker" when you invite new people into your life.

      https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=112466.0

      4. Mindfulness practice

      This can start with something as simple as taking an observer's stance on your own feelings, which is a very powerful tool. We also have workshops on mindfulness:

      TOOLS: DBT for non borderlines - mindfulness

      Mindfulness is a tool that gives us breathing room from our reactions and emotions. It builds strength and helps us cope. Learn more:

      https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=64749.10

      TOOLS: Practicing mindfulness - how to do it

      Mindfulness has tremendous benefits to our physical and mental health. It clears our minds and leaves us refreshed and calmer--mental space many of us desperately need given the chaos and emotional dysregulation that characterize the BPD relationships in our lives. This workshop provides simple explanations, exercises, and strategies for getting started with practicing mindfulness.

      https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=111031.0

      5. Supportive therapy with inner child work

      Perhaps another needed workshop. The Survivors' Guide in the right panel of Coping with Parents, Relatives, or In-Laws with BPD includes inner child work. See especially step 7.

      6. Fostering positive entitlement

      Workshop referenced above.

      7. EMDR/trauma recovery

      TOOLS: EMDR for Non Borderlines

      EMDR is a popular form of therapy for trauma recovery. Learn more about the method, some debates around how it works, and the results some members have experienced.

      https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=65302.0

      8. Practicing self-forgiveness

      Workshop referenced above.
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      « Reply #51 on: April 17, 2010, 10:19:20 AM »

      From Surviving the Borderline Parent:

      Excerpt
      STOP AND THINK: Challenge the Critic


      Consider which of the cognitive distortions [from the twisted thinking article above] your inner critic might use to maintain the status quo. For each one, write a recent example of the critic at work. For instance, if your son chose to watch TV instead of doing his homework first, you might have thought or said, "Michael never does his homework when he's supposed to," when really there have only been a couple of times when he hasn't.

      Now challenge the distortion and rewrite the statement. You can do this by asking yourself if it's really true. Are there exceptions? Might there be another way to look at the issue? Could you have made an incorrect assumption? Using the previous example, you might instead think or say, "Michael usually does his homework before he turns on the TV. I wonder if something is bothering him... .Maybe he's tired and needs to relax first."

      Develop your own list of responses to the critic, affirmations that you can repeat whenever you catch yourself in a negative pattern of thinking. Here are a few examples to prompt your list:



      • I don't always do anything; there are exceptions.


      • I don't never do or not do anything; there are exceptions.


      • It's not fair to make assumptions; I need to find out the facts first.


      • Everyone makes an isolated mistake or two.


      • Come to think of it, I could just as easily choose to see the glass half full instead of half empty.


      • Because I fel a certain way about something doesn't make it absolutely true. Feeling and being are two different things.


      • It's not always about me. People have their own reasons for doing what they do--I don't have to take it personally all the time.


      • It's not the end of the world. I'll find a solution.



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      « Reply #52 on: April 17, 2010, 12:18:55 PM »

      Thanks so much, Black&White, for starting this thread!  There's so much material here that it's hard to know where to start, but you really hit on something for me in the note about "broken pickers," because it's been my main problem all my life.  Lack of discernment about what/who to choose and what/who not to.  By no means is it my only problem, but it's such a big issue in my life and it keeps blossoming (yuck) out into more areas and more complications that basically started with the FOO but don't end there. So I have pulled down and PDF'd that thread you referenced.

      And you are mentioning, in your post above, the recovery methods, and one of them is DBT, which thrills me because I've been employing DBT skills very intensively for the past couple years.  It works wonderfully well for me and it's a joy to see it mentioned so favorably in this forum!

      I can't post to a workshop yet (not enough posts) but you've surely given me a lot to do in the meantime, especially when combined with the lessons on the sideboards-- "Safety First," for starters.  I've already gotten some insights from that article about why any kind of recovery has been so many years delayed for me, when I've been trying so hard  for so long.   But that's another topic    Smiling (click to insert in post)

      Thanks again,

      xoxo   s a



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      « Reply #53 on: April 18, 2010, 12:24:06 AM »

      Thanks for so much more info/feedback, B&W.

      I am sort of backing off the roach/shame thing (Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)) since two nights ago I had a dream (a very bad dream) where I had evilsis on the ground punching her stomach and telling her to die, die , die. And her fat belly seemed like the undercarriage (not kidding) of a roach.

      I know through past T that sometimes we can take on more than we can handle all at once.

      I very much hope this workshop continues on. It's such a very worthwhile topic.

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      « Reply #54 on: April 18, 2010, 07:29:07 AM »

      I read that Challenge the Critic section a couple of times.  I find myself doing the always and nevers, although, I'm starting to notice it in others so I must be cluing in finally.   Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

      There have been a couple of threads of Positive Affirmations for Survivors, but they always seem to get cluttered with reasons and backstories.  Someone suggested some months ago about having a thread that was JUST like the whole "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!" lists.  I have an email that a cousin sent to me, as I was in the throes of heading into my last NC with my mother.  He told me that he supported me, he loved me and his parents have always loved me... .that I am a good mother and wife, and person despite all of this.  Every time I have a down day, I open that up and read it.  I think a thread here where we are only allowed to put positive affirmations would be awesome for folks who don't have a good support system outside of this board.

      I agree that the healthy lifestyle patterns is an important part.  It goes with the one workshop we had about positive entitlement, but more parallel than inside.  I often have a hard time appreciating quiet time, the finer things, eccentricities maybe they seem like to me.  They really are important to have as part of a routine.  It would be a good thing to explore further.

      I still have a terrible time grasping mindfulness.  Maybe someday I'll read about it and other's people's experiences with discovering and appying it, and it will stick.  I don't know why it's not sinking in... .

      Thanks again, B&W.

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      « Reply #55 on: July 30, 2010, 04:02:45 AM »

      i've read alot here about people being shamed with abandonment and violence,which i can relate to both.  but i feel shamed for merely having any needs as a child.  like it was a huge embarrassment for even the concept of having any needs.  its only recently that i'm untwisting my conditioned thinking.  how is it shameful to have natural needs?  how is it shameful to be vulnerable?  it shows me the projecting that my parents acted out on me.  because seeing the vulnerability and needs of children to me is beautiful.  it shows me that they are growing and learning as emotional people. it shows me the extent to which my parents were mentally and emotionally sick.

      the fact that they didn't fulfill my natural needs as a child is a big wound to heal.  they said they were too young to have children and made a dozen excuses.  but i feel that they continue to behave the same putting their needs about their daughters, so it can't be about age.  seeking emotional counseling and understanding from their daughters.  every day they are still here, living on the same planet they refuse to be nice or good parents, and flip the roles.  its like a continual rejection and shaming.  that seems to be a continuing wound that i hope to find peace with.

      now as an adult, i still have needs.  i doubt i'll ever stop the need to have a compassionate parent who i can turn to and who i feel understands and accepts me, and i don't see that as unhealthy or wrong.  i think its a natural need in every human being to feel safe, understood and loved by their parents. so now i have to untwist their sick conditioning and learn to fill my life with good, compassionate people, not only as a good thing in my life but to fill the need that they never did or continue to do.

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      « Reply #56 on: September 20, 2010, 05:04:02 PM »

      Good idea.  I think I understand this more as I deal with my issues, and work even with my hubby on our co-counseling now.  Needs... .I think I've always felt that it was a positive trait to be a self-sacrificing martyr.  Do whatever mother wants because if you don't... .leads to letting your spouse, kids, friends, and other family steam roll you.  Leads to major burnout... .

      Thanks for bringing this back up again.
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      « Reply #57 on: September 20, 2010, 07:24:17 PM »

      I've got so much shame over so much stuff... .and not always from childhood things or FOO things, but how I've lived my life as an adult.  The Safety First article mentioned "stopgap measures" and I'm paying the price now for the stopgap measures I've been slapping onto each crisis for the past several years.  Somewhere along the way, and not all that long ago, I just gave up.  I don't know if it was physical, just being more susceptible to illness and aging, I think that's part of it for sure, but I have just gotten mentally and emotionally drained by the problems in my life and have just gone onto dead center.  It's probably nobody's fault but my own, but how can you work out an effective solution when you don't have all the information of the problem, and when people keep slapping you around and making threats?  My main objective for most of my adult life was how to get straight with my parents, to get their approval and stop all the threats and the violence.  As I've posted many times before, I didn't realize until very recently that this was a complete waste of time.  What's most upsetting of all, is how a huge majority of my relationships have echoed the relationship with the parents.  I've never grown out of being the punching bag, fall guy, and scapegoat.  My frantic attempts to grow out of/escape from/educate myself out of... .these roles have all failed.  Never in all my adult life, have I been one to do harm to others, to threaten them or do sly little physical things to them that reveal inner maliciousness, or be verbally abusive.  Firstly, I'm too much of a coward and I know it;  and secondly, to do such up-front angry things is a violation of my religious faith, and whenever I feel that I may have been offensive to someone, this old girl gets herself off to the sacrament of confession.  But the fury that I feel and that I have to fight to keep from taking out on myself, and that I might actually take out on somebody else, scares me.

      Thanks for putting up with all this.  Sometimes it all gets me down and I just have to try to talk about it.  I will keep on doing my best to implement the recovery material here, and to keep doing the best I can as each day comes along.

      xoxo   s a



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      « Reply #58 on: October 05, 2010, 06:20:47 PM »

      Wow.  This is my internal life... .toxic shame.  I am all about toxic shame.  It is so interesting to have a name for what goes on inside me... .this is alot of digest.  Thank you for this posting  xoxox
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      « Reply #59 on: October 05, 2010, 06:25:59 PM »

      i feel shamed for merely having any needs as a child.  like it was a huge embarrassment for even the concept of having any needs. 

      I can very much relate to this.  I felt shame for feeling shame, shame for needing love, shame for needing people in my life, shame for needing food or shelter, shame for needing help, shame for making any mistake no matter how small, shame for feeling any emotion, shame for... .breathing.  I always said my mom parented with shame, and now I see how that actually affected me. 
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      « Reply #60 on: October 27, 2011, 04:42:26 AM »

      I have a question, is this type of shame in any way related to the physical shame? With being extremely pudic? I dread medical visits cause I am scared I might have to take my clothes off, and that mortifies me.
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      « Reply #61 on: October 27, 2011, 09:04:01 AM »

      I have a question, is this type of shame in any way related to the physical shame? With being extremely pudic? I dread medical visits cause I am scared I might have to take my clothes off, and that mortifies me.

      It certainly can be. I'm sorry you experience that. Must make taking care of your health very uncomfortable. 

      If you feel up to it, and slowly so you don't get overwhelmed, you might examine the reactions and feelings you have in those moments (not DURING those moments, but in reflection). Can you connect them to anything in your experience? You might find there are things in the past that get triggered in those situations.
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      « Reply #62 on: April 07, 2012, 12:40:36 AM »

      Underneath "I can sacrifice myself" (my needs, my time, my comfort, my interests, my growth, my money, my support, my life) is "I don't matter, I am worthless." That's toxic shame.

      Undoing this shame has been the most profound personal project of my life.

      B&W

      I agree that, it is toxic shame, if I sacrifice myself for someone because I feel "I don't matter or I am worthless."

      But I am willing to sacrifice all of myself for someone I truely love and care about, such
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      « Reply #63 on: March 09, 2013, 07:13:08 PM »

      You can watch John Bradshaw's "Healing the Shame that Binds You" and "Heal your inner child" on YouTube. Amazing stuff. Just search by those titles.
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