Forgiving Shame [WORK]
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We all act unconsciously and without consideration for others at times. When we allow ourselves to be honest about these behaviors, without the judgment of shame, we are left with remorse, which is a quality we are actually quite fortunate exists.
However, if we move into shame and beating ourselves up, we stop ourselves in our tracks, get stuck and likely remain in the mistake, and deprive ourselves of a lesson learned and opportunity to do things differently moving forward.
I find that forgiveness is a state that we move in and out of, and will continue to revisit, oftentimes, for many years, oscillating between shame (or anger, resentment, fear, etc) and compassion. Ideally though, with practice and patience the time spent in shame will become fewer and farther between.
Shame is incredibly unhealthy, causing lowered self-esteem (feelings of unworthiness) and behavior that reinforces that self-image. As we are learning more and more, shame can be an extremely debilitating emotion. Shame is responsible for a myriad of problems, including but not limited to:
Some have explained the difference between shame and guilt as follows: When we feel guilt, we feel bad about something we did or neglected to do. When we feel shame, we feel bad about who we are. When we feel guilty, we need to learn that it is okay to make mistakes. When we feel shame we need to learn that it is okay to be who we are.
Forgiving yourself for the ways you have hurt or harmed others will probably be the hardest thing that you will ever have to do in order to heal your shame. In fact, it may be the hardest thing you ever have to do in your life. This is especially true if you have repeated the cycle of abuse by harming another person in the same ways you were abused.
When you take responsibility for your actions you may feel more shame at the moment, but that feeling of shame will be replaced with a feeling of self-respect and of genuine pride (as opposed to false pride).
The next step is to go to those you have harmed and admit what you have done to hurt them. It is important that you tell those you have harmed that they have a right to their anger and that you encourage them to voice their anger directly to you. Make certain, however, that you do not allow anyone to verbally abuse you or to shame you. Taking responsibility may also include admitting to others, such as other family members, how you abused or neglected your victim.
An apology can remove the cloak of shame that even the most remorseful person carries around. On the other hand, if you don't experience enough shame when you wrong someone else, an apology can help remind you of the harm you caused. The act of having to apologize to someone usually causes us to feel humiliated. Remembering that humiliation the next time you are tempted to repeat the same act can discourage you from acting on your impulse.
When we face the truth about how we have hurt others, sometimes severely, the feelings of guilt and shame can be overwhelming. Often, the only way we can find compassion for ourselves or self-forgiveness is to reach out to something bigger than our individual selves.
If you find you are still overwhelmed with guilt or shame about how your past behavior has affected someone, it will be important to realize and remember this truth: The most effective method of self-forgiveness is for you to vow that you will not continue the same behavior and not hurt someone in the same way again.
A good picture of God addressing shame is in Psalm 3. David is on the run for his life. A myriad of sinful choices by David have led to the destruction of his family. Failing to address one son raping his daughter led to another son killing his brother. That son seeing his father, David, would not respond, led that son to start a military coup to oust his father. This is why David is on the run for his life.
If you read the Bible with this point of awareness, you will begin to notice that passages which speak about the gospel emphasize that we are both forgiven (remedy for guilt) and accepted (remedy for shame) because of what Christ did on our behalf. We need to be proficient in articulating both if we are going to embrace and minister the gospel fully.
But this post is about processing our own shame, not alleviating the shame of others. So, what do we do if shame is a barrier in our ability to embrace the forgiveness that someone has given? What if they are willing but we are impeded by shame? Although it is admittedly awkward, we might ask for a conversation like the one below. During this conversation, each person would be intentional about maintaining eye contact.
The behavioral residue of shame can become a deeply ingrained habit. Having the people who love us and invite tender eye contact as they remind us the simple truth of acceptance can be a powerful counter to this habituation.
 We said this reflection would err on the side of simplicity. That is most felt in this section. We will only deal with shame we feel for sins we committed (hence, forgiveness is relevant). We will not deal with the shame we feel for sins committed against us (such as abuse). Shame emanating from suffering receives a different form of comfort and has a different healing process. For more on this distinction see: bradhambrick.com/ShameSermon.
Unforgivability in Euripides' Medea is explored in the context of intrapsychic forces favoring disruption and narcissistic withdrawal and precluding the influence of forces favoring repair of bonds, not necessarily to the betrayer, but to the social and moral order. The forces underlying disruption and withdrawal operate to such an extent that forgiveness and cooperation with the social order become impossible. Euripides' literary insights are explored with the purpose of deepening and extending the psychoanalytic understanding of shame, shame fantasies, projective identification, and vengefulness as they bear on the problem of forgiveness. Three types of shame fantasy are pertinent to the transformation of Medea's mental state from one of anguished and disjointed shame to diabolical vengefulness: anticipatory paranoid shame, the projective identification of shame, and withdrawal as a defense against shame.
Forgiveness is a deliberate decision to let go of negative emotions toward yourself or another person. The negative emotions that you might experience prior to forgiveness include those mentioned earlier: guilt, shame, self-condemnation, humiliation, as well as resentment or bitterness.
Research on the forgiveness of self has largely focused on less severe, more common types of offenses among samples within developed westernized nations. In this brief report of a study within a developing nation in Africa, applications of self-forgiveness are extended to incarcerated people. The sample comprised N = 310 males (83.87%) and females (16.13%) who were incarcerated in a medium-security Ghanaian prison (Mage = 39.35, SDage = 13.28). Participants completed measures of self-forgiveness, shame-proneness, and guilt-proneness. Prison records were examined for criminal history details. We hypothesized that self-forgiveness would correlate negatively with shame-proneness and positively with guilt-proneness. We tentatively hypothesized that this association would be moderated by offense type. Self-forgiveness correlated with both shame- and guilt-proneness in the hypothesized direction. However, neither association was moderated by type of offense. The findings offer further evidence on the salience of self-conscious emotions in forgiving oneself, particularly among incarcerated offender populations. We discuss the implications of the findings for enhancing offender rehabilitation initiatives.
On the other hand, shame boils down to a feeling that there is something wrong at your core. It makes you feel bad about yourself as a person. As such, shame causes feelings of fault and worthlessness, often causing anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
As such, self-compassion can help you let go of feelings of guilt, shame, worthlessness, and anger. It improves self-acceptance and helps silence the inner critic that hinders your healing process. Self-compassion permits you to forgive yourself and others, let go of the painful experience and move on.
With the help of self-compassion, you will feel empowered to mindfully observe your thoughts and feelings of anger, hurt, depression, shame, guilt, and self-blame, acknowledge these feelings, and then let go of them let go of them.
To be able to forgive yourself, you need to mindfully focus on your feelings of resentment, guilt, and shame first. Consciously acknowledging these emotions and your self-beating thoughts without judgment can help switch from blaming to understanding yourself.
Furthermore, make amends to restore damage and repair trust, if possible. Accept the possibility that the other side may not be ready to forgive you. However, repairing damage and restoring trust are essential parts of forgiveness, even if you are forgiving yourself.
Forgiveness of self should promote a personal shift from self-blame to increased responsibility. It is a process of letting go of negative thoughts, shame, guilt, and self-blame and moving toward greater responsibility.
Shame is a concept that we intuitively know exists but have trouble defining. Is it a feeling? A way of thinking? A state of being? We typically feel guilty about what we have done, but we feel shameful about who we are. Amy and Brittney have drawn conclusions about who they are because of what they have done sexually. Think of it this way: We see shame as the punishment we deserve for something we feel guilty about. We determine that because of our sinful choices, we are less than, deserve to have less than, and are beyond redemption. How has this played out in your life? Go ahead; complete the sentence:
Guilt and shame serve an important purpose in our lives.Guilt is that little twinge you feel when you are about to do something youknow is wrong. Guilt is our conscience. Its purpose is to alert us that what weare about to do or what we are doing goes against our values. We all develop avalue system as we grow up. Much of it is instilled in us from our parents andsociety. Our value system is an internal set of beliefs that guide ourbehavior. When we are about to do something or actually do something that goesagainst this value system, we feel guilty. Guilt warns us that we need to stopand do something different. 2b1af7f3a8