What does it mean to have toxic shame? Well, it might just mean that we think we are inherently flawed or bad. In a powerful speech by John Bradshaw, he claims that shame can be of use to us, but there are times when it goes too far.
And once it becomes toxic shame, our inner world and therefore, our perception of the world we live in, becomes a place of fear, mistrust, and hopelessness.
We become our own jailor.
Toxic shame then becomes our familiar resting place. Our pivot point for all of life’s intricacies and ever-changing flow. Our lack is because of us. Our shattered dreams; a reflection of who we see in the mirror.
It’s painful, and it drives us further away from ourselves and into the world of addiction.
Enter the illusion
For the sake of our own self-preservation, our mind begins to develop coping mechanisms to distract ourselves from the excruciating pain of our past traumas and the resulting toxic shame.
It’s too frightening to face it so we overindulge or fill our schedules with anything to keep the attention off of the truth. What are some of the more common distractions we use?
- Stimulating foods– Typically those high in salt, sugar, oil, and caffeine.
- Perfectionism– Striving for perfection in school, community, and job performance.
- Sexual addiction– In the form of porn, fantasy, or promiscuity.
- Digital entertainment– Such as video games, Youtube, TV, and gambling.
- Drugs– More commonly caffeine, marijuana, alcohol, opiates, and nicotine.
So what is the truth that cuts so deeply that we must run from?
We’re so damn lonely.
Because we’ve never been able to love ourselves, we can’t fathom the possibility of loving others. We can love a dog, sure, because they’ve only been good to us. Humans give us that icky feeling that we might get betrayed again.
So we go lone wolf or we find a niche group that understands our quirks and possibly the pain we still go through. That’s fine to relate, but I question it’s association without the intent to transcend the suffering within.
There’s gotta be something in you that fights for a better life. The same way you fought to fertilize the egg when you were first conceived! Something in you that craves the feeling that life should feel good. And the ability to feel that way if it was just you and your naked body, alone in a forest.
Mistakes and Emotions – The Two Manliest Things
Somewhere along the line, we were crucified for making a mistake when in reality, mistakes are the greatest fuel for innovation! Finding out what doesn’t work is necessary in the production of anything worthwhile. In fact, it’s completely unrealistic to demand perfection. It goes against nature, duality, and the infinitely expanding universe we live in. The only perfection is in the design of nature itself, which is perfectly imperfect.
In our environment, we may have had completely unrealistic expectations placed upon us which took our humanity away from us. Pair this with our idolizing and identification of Hollywood stars, professional athletes, and imaginary super heroes, and you have a cocktail for a self-image disaster.
Gerard Butler did an outstanding job portraying King Leonidas in 300. And Brad Pitt killed it in Fight Club. But movies and magazines are not where we can realistically find examples of being a complete man. Though, it doesn’t stop us from our craving to find a role model, and we were never shown that we are indeed the greatest example of humanity itself.
Emotions?! What is this sorcery you speak of?!
Speaking from the point of view of a guy, certain emotions are a no fly zone if you want to be a man. Once again, this belief is tossed around with a deep seed of toxic shame. The more you hold those tears in, the tougher you are when in reality, the more tension and dis-ease you will experience. Let those tears flow, brother. They need to come out.
Anger on the other hand is useful in setting boundaries. When ignored or shamed, it internalizes and boils to the point of rage. And there’s nothing manly or attractive in being full of rage, though, it’s important to exercise no judgment if it’s there and needs to be extracted.
You are the example
It’s true that many of us didn’t have the role model we needed growing up. And at such a vulnerable age, desperate for instruction, we were abandoned. Now that we know where this all came from, we can decide to forgive those who we needed so badly at one point. Often times, forgiving others is something we do for ourselves so we can be free, something we’ve craved our entire lives. Being a victim affirms powerlessness. Maybe at one point we felt that way, but it’s time to take the power back.
The gift of forgiveness offers you a new start, while acknowledging the super powers within that you can create your destiny going forward.
Our thoughts are arguably the one thing in which we have complete control over in life, according to Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone in Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude.
We may not choose every thought that pops in our head, but we can decide which ones to entertain and strengthen. This is the start of realizing the power we’ve had all along. It’s been with us all along through our bumps, bruises, and complete breakdowns in life.
It’s time we wield the mysterious power of our thoughts to serve our highest good. As A Man Thinketh is one of the greatest starting points to unlocking this power within you.
The Bright Future That Awaits
The point of all this is to clear out the faulty belief that we’re not good enough. You were born a winner! Remember, when you fertilized the egg?!
The process of coming to terms with the past and our toxic shame is some of the best work we can do. Meetup groups are an outstanding way to share our experiences and realize we’re all here to connect and help each other through whatever it is we’re going through. It certainly helps to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep as well. The mind and body are intimately linked, something I’ll write about in a future post.
What are some ways you’re planning on improving your life this year? Feel free to leave a comment or send me a private message on the Contact page.