Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Part Two of Shame Series- FInding Your Voice


A Beginning Journey of Overcoming the Darkness of Shame
Part Two

You may want to read Part I in the Archives to refresh your memory for what I said last week.  I began to introduce the key theorists on Shame Theory and also began to look at scenarios of how our positve situations are turned to shame in just a matter of seconds.  Enjoy this Blog.  Pass it on to your friends and they can sign up to follow too. 

 In addition to providing a theory for how shame impacts our lives, Nathanson offers strategies for dealing with shame.  Nathanson helps us understand shame by reducing to a simple definition, that shame is the interruption of positive affect.  The two positive affects, interest - excitement and joy-enthusiasm are powerful affective responses.  When a person is in the process of enjoyment or interest and something negative or bad happens to them, it interrupts those positive affects and shame sets in.  Over time, a person might even stop moving toward something they enjoy or are interested in because of the fear of failure and defeat. Thus, the negative possibilities immobilize them from moving toward something they enjoy.  This recurring issue can cause someone to give up their voice, their desire, or their ambition toward something they so desire. 

Now, let us look at the practical issues involving shame and how those issues affect us on a daily basis.

            It is common to believe that when we turn eighteen or twenty-one that we will somehow magically know how to be an adult.  We dream that we will know the right things to say and always do the right things just as we believed our parents were always right.  Even when we were fighting with our parents as adolescents, often there was that secret sense that we hoped they were right.   Because if they were not right then how could we ever really trust anyone?   They raised us and we were completely dependent upon their worldview. 

For instance, when was the last time you were out to coffee with a friend and the topic of discussion turned to politics, religion, or just an opinion about a TV show.  For instance, let us say you like Dancing with the Stars. 

And your friend says, “I don’t understand how anyone can get caught up in these reality TV shows, especially something as ditzy as Dancing with the Stars.

 You think to yourself. “Ouch, I thought that was an okay show to watch.  I must be stupid for wasting my time doing that.” 

However, in the conversation you say nothing, agree with your friend, or find a quick excuse to go to the restroom.  What would it have taken you to say, “I disagree with that?  I find Dancing with Stars very relaxing and by the end of the season, I can see how each dancer has progressed.  I really enjoy it.”

Somewhere along your life’s journey, you have lost your voice.  Now, you are at a deciding point, you either have to decide to stay inside of your cocoon and feel silently miserable about your secret opinions and enjoyments or to put your toes into the river of life and learn how to voice your opinion to others.  Your opinion is who you are.  You have a right to like the things you like and enjoy things that bring you relaxation, hope, and positive feelings.  You are uniquely you and that is okay.  Not only is it okay, but you need to celebrate who you are. Find one way today to celebrate yourself.

Voice is one of the most important aspects of who we are.  Voice allows others to get to know us and to engage us in their lives.  Without voice, we are invisible. 

  So, what do I mean by finding your voice?

I am inviting you along with myself to pull the magic into your daily life and stop being invisible.  I am asking you to look at the number of times each day that you defer to someone else because you assume they are smarter, know better, or have earned the right to override your needs and wants.  Often this behavior of not having a voice has been called co-dependency but I believe it is more than that.  I believe we take care of others in a situation because we are ashamed to take care of ourselves.  We are ashamed to be seen.  It is easier in the short run to be invisible.  However, in the long run none of us wants to be invisible forever.  Invisibility and voicelessness takes its toll on us.  We can become very angry and bitter about it by blaming others for the fact we did not stand up for ourselves.  It seems to me that the less we use our voice the larger our internal victim becomes and pretty soon it is everyone else’s fault that we are not getting what we  want out of life.  We become one of those people who always complain about what an awful lot in life we have.  Our comparison scripts are in the negative.  In the end, we have no one else to blame except ourselves for not standing up for ourselves.  Often in the beginning of our adult hood in may not even occur to us that we are not using our voice.  It may not occur to us until our kids are grown or we are in mid-life and we go, what happened to me?  It is never too late to change.  It is never too late to bring the magic to our lives.  Yes, it is usually always uncomfortable to stir up a potion of different, because we have spent most of our life being accommodating, nice, and easy going.  Now, all of a sudden we are saying things to our partners like, “No, I am not willing to go there.”  “No, I don’t want to put my money into that.”  “Oh, I need to take some time to myself.”  “I have a new friend.”  “I am going to look for a new job.”  “I am not happy.”  “I need a change.”  “I don’t like that anymore.”   “I want to take skydiving lessons.”  Anything you have chosen not to pursue, do, act on or say because of having to defend yourself and your position for choosing something out of the ordinary is an example of how you have not been using your voice and as a result, losing yourself piece by piece to the creeping in of age.  Soon the days left to live are less than the days lived and then depression can take over.  When depression takes over then you might find yourself saying, “Why bother, now?”  Depression becomes a comfortable blanket and soon the idea of magic is long gone from your memory.  Possibilities and potentials are drowned out by the daily lowering of the serotonin and one day turns into the next.  Where are you?  Where have you gone? 

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