Shame, Guilt and Addiction

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1 Shame, Guilt and Addiction A Vicious Cycle Adapted From John Bradshaw Healing The Shame That Binds You By: Eldon Richey, M.A., LMFT 1 In This Lecture You Will Learn: l The difference between shame and guilt. l How we shame others and ourselves. l Effects of shame on our behavior. l How shame binds you to addictive behavior. l How to begin the process of recovery. 2 Writing Exercise l Take a few minutes and write a list of some of the mistakes you have made in your life.» You may share these later if you wish but you will not be required to do so.» We will use the list later to help you understand some things about yourself. 3

2 What Is the Difference? Guilt Says I did a bad thing I made a mistake I was wrong. I acted badly. I had a moral lapse. I made a bad choice. I am human and failed the test. Shame Says I am bad. I am a mistake. I am wrong. I am defective. I am immoral. I am a failure. I am no good, or not good enough. 4 Shame and Guilt Are Different What Is The Bad Feeling Inside? Guilt I made a mistake but I can make up for it. Empahsis is on Behavior Not Self Provides for Acountability Shame I am a mistake so I cannot make up for it. Emphasis is on Self Not Behavior. Is not Accountable 5 Healthy Guilt: l Provides for a system of accountability. l Provides for repair, forgiveness and belonging again. l Allows for I am sorry to be said and accepted. l Society could not exist without it. 6

3 Healthy Guilting l Judges behavior and not the person.» I don t like your behavior, but I do care for you as a person. l Lets person know what is not acceptable and how to make amends. l Allows for mistakes. l Supports person in changing behavior. 7 Unhealthy Guilt l Feeling guilt for:» Things that you had no control over. Its my fault you got drunk. Its my fault mom and dad got divorced. Its my fault you hit me.» Feelings or behaviors which in fact did not hurt or harm anyone including yourself. Feeling angry without acting out and hurting another.» Not being perfect. 8 Healthy Shame l Points out our limits. l Lets us know that we need help. l Gives us a sense of embarrassment when we exceed our limits. l Allows for humility. 9

4 Unhealthy Shame l Poisons the soul. l Makes you lose your identity. l Fuels low self esteem. l Feels hopeless.» You cannot make up for your mistakes, because you are the mistake. 10 How We Shame Others: l Scold l Criticize l Blame l Humiliate l Tease and torment l Name calling l Abusing l Demanding perfection l Silent treatment. l Disgusting looks. l Rejecting another's love, gifts or accomplishments'. l Acting selfrighteous. l Being unforgiving. l Discounting another. 11 How We Shame Ourselves: l By believing the shaming that was done to us in the past. l By taking over where others have shamed us and saying the same things to ourselves.» Self-reproach and self-condemnation.» Being perfectionistic and unforgiving of our past mistakes. 12

5 Shame Looks Like... l Non-verbal observations of shame:» Inability to sustain eye contact.» Decreased spontaneity.» Decreased body movements.» Head is hung down.» Eyes turn inward in self scrutiny and self criticism. 13 Addiction and Shame: l Addictive chemicals and behaviors block the feelings of shame when you are using or acting out. l Later, you feel ashamed that you used and or acted out. l Thus you need to use or act out again in order to decrease the feelings of shame that you have for using and acting out.» A vicious cycle. 14 Shame Binds You to Addiction l How many shameful acts have you done or seen people do while under the influence of alcohol and drugs?» Does the addict feel the shame at the moment they are acting out, or later?» Using blocks the feelings of shame and leads to more shameful behavior.» Addiction allows you to blame everyone and everything else for your shameful behavior. 15

6 Writing Exercise Continued: l Try to determine which of the messages that you wrote down on your list are:» Shame based messages.» Are guilting messages. l You can share these with the group if you want. l Feel free to ask questions about your list if you are not sure if it is shame or guilt. 16 Group Exercise: l Take a look at the 12 steps and decide which of these steps helps heal the shame. l How do these steps help the healing process? l Discuss your ideas with one another and the group facilitator. l Don t be afraid to ask questions. 17 Step 1 - Powerlessness l Powerlessness is different than helplessness.» Helplessness leaves no choices.» Powerlessness gives you the freedom of choice back. l Shame will not admit that it is powerless. l Shame fuels the unmanageability of your life. 18

7 Step 2 - Power Greater Than l Shame is narcissistic and grandiose. l Shame is so focused on oneself that it cannot look outwards for help.» I can handle it all by myself. I don t need anyone.» Reaching out for help, to AA, NA, or Alanon begins to restore you to sanity.» It is here that you find your humility, and humanity. 19 Step 3 - Turning Our Will Over l You cannot heal the shame alone. l You must be willing to share the shame in order for healing to take place. l Shame wants to hide in secret.» If it were possible to heal the shame by yourself than you would have done it a long time ago. 20 Step 4 - Moral Inventory l Taking a moral inventory does not mean beating yourself up. l It means looking at your strengths as well as your character defects. l Needs to be rigorously honest. l Turns shame into healthy guilt. l Begins the process of acceptance and letting go. 21

8 Step 5 - Admitting l Shame hates exposure. l Provides you with the experience of acceptance by another person. l Allows for you to take responsibility for past wrongs. l Focus is on behavior, not self. l Provides for accountability. 22 Steps 6 & 7-character Defects l Empowerment of faith and hope l Increases sense of self-worth l Further admission of powerlessness l It is OK to ask for help l Fosters humility- shame antagonist l Begins the process of healing the shame l Restores healthy shame 23 Step 8 & 9 - Amends l Making amends takes the unhealthy shame and turns it into healthy guilt. l It allows for a way back. l It provides for a way to restore broken relationships. l It is accountable. 24

9 Steps 10, 11, 12-maintenance l 10 - Maintenance for relationship with oneself l 11 - Maintenance of bond of mutuality with a Higher Power l 12 - Maintenance of spirituality and Being» These provide for abandonment of shame and maintenance of growth 25

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