When Shame Begets Shame by Christine Louis de Canonville has become my favorite go-to resource and reference for those who are healing from the effects of narcissistic abuse (culturally and personally, but especially the latter, and even more so if you were shaped by a narcissistic parent or sibling). Chapters 1, 16 and 17 are very practical in helping to understand what you’re facing and how to break on through to the other side. I’ve mentioned the book in other posts, but now I’m going to spotlight it to offer a charge to you.
What is NOT knowing your true worth costing you? Really… what’s it costing you? Health, joy, self-esteem, love, life purpose, finances?
Think about what’s most important to you and let that be a driving force for you to break through to the other side and thrive. At the heart of the breakthrough, of course, is our beloved friend SHAME. If the abuse started when you were a child, much of what you’re recycling or transcending is false-shame. It’s not yours. So let’s take a closer look.
Christine offers this: shame responses were good survival resources when they were in a conflict environment with a narcissist caretaker. According to Gilbert and Andrews (1998):
“In conflict situations, there are just two basic choices: to escalate or de-escalate …. The inhibitory functions of shame suggest that shame functions as a defensive strategy which can be triggered in the presence of interpersonal threat” …. Shame signals (e.g., head down, gaze avoidance, and hiding) are generally registered as submissive and [appeasing], designed to de-escalate and/or escape from conflicts. Thus, insofar as shame is related to submissiveness and appeasement behaviour, it is a damage limitation strategy, adopted when continuing in a shameless, non-submissive way might provoke very serious attacks or rejections.”
As far as I can see, the only way out is through (unless you have a magic wand that can do the trick and if you do let me know). What this means is that when you commit to your deepest values and truest desires – those experiences that would feel so amazing to you because they are aligned and integral to your well-being – you will also have to face “serious attacks or rejections.”
THIS, my friend, IS the spiritual work. THIS IS where the rubber meets the road. THIS IS where shame can be faced and trashed. THIS IS where you get to experience for yourself that your value has worth – to you and to others as well.
Shame is a cultural epidemic, but if you were narcissistically attacked (especially as a child), YOU have access to the superpower of transformation at levels that most people can’t even dream of. This means that you can inspire others and bring healing to the table of life in ways that are original, creative, deep and meaningful. The world needs what you have. Value it, and you will be rewarded greatly.
On the other hand… if you (continue to) show up being overly responsible for others but “in absentia” when it comes to yourself… if you’re a master when it comes to playing roles but then you “go invisible” when someone asks to see the real you… those are great clues that you are hiding. Ask yourself, “Who am I being loyal to? Who am I betraying? Who would I like to be loyal to? Who is it okay to ‘betray’?” In the narcissist’s perspective, your owning your self-worth EQUALS betrayal. That’s okay. In fact, it’s quite laughable when you really think about it. It’s insane!
We need to create environments where our truth and our value is WARMLY WELCOMED, HIGHLY REWARDED AND DEEPLY APPRECIATED. You deserve this. That is precisely and exactly what we are doing here at Joy-Based Living. Maybe one day JBL can become solely a “fun lifestyle station for sharing our joys, creativity and laughter.” But – due to demand – as it stands right now, JBL serves 3 purposes:
- Tune in to your joy and generate more!
- Remove the sludge off the wings of eagles who were born to soar (especially those who walk through our door)!
- Join each other in 1 and 2.
If you would like to expand your joy and join us for a deeper conversation, our awesome E-book is your first stop.
ps. Here’s an update to a painting I previously posted 🙂