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Psychotherapy, Self Acceptance, & Dealing with Shame

July 10th, 2011 · 3 Comments · dealing with shame, Psychotherapy, Self, self acceptance, shame

dealing with shame

This is really Part 2 of the post, “Jungian Psychotherapy, Individuation and Self Acceptance“, and deals with an important barrier to self acceptance, namely dealing with shame.

A lot could be said about our shame and how it thwarts self acceptance.

  • Shame is Deep: Maybe as Deep as it Gets

There is a power in this feeling, sometimes greater than in any other emotion.  We confront this power when our dignity is lost, when we have gone beyond the boundaries of what is acceptable or tolerable, when we are profoundly alienated from other humans because of who or what we are.

  • Shame and Fear of Total Loss of the Self

Deep shame can devastate.  It can be so intense as to obliterate any good feeling we have about who or what we are, and force us behind an ironclad mask.  Shame can be so intense we feel like we’re losing ourselves.

  • In Our Inner Dialogue, We Can Often Shame Ourselves

We powerfully internalize shaming that we have received.  I’ve noted this in psychotherapy for men, but it’s true for everyone.  Through the emotion in complexes, we can easily internalize shaming messages received from others.  This emotionally charged material can torment us.

  • Yet, We Can Find Our Humanity in our Shame

A strange thing  to say…  Yet, true if we can have the courage to explore those places where we are most vulnerable.

A good friend and co-worker died young from cancer.  I was asked to be a pallbearer.  Back then, I had strong unconscious inhibitions against males showing strong emotion, ground into me early in life.  Yet, bearing the coffin, I broke into uncontrollable tears.  I was filled with shame, but I couldn’t help it…I loved my friend, and tragically, he was gone.  Later, to make it worse, my boss (my friend’s friend and former boss) berated me for my “weakness”.  I felt like a selfish little baby.

It took psychotherapy and years of living with that humiliation to accept my vulnerable grief for my friend.  “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery” sings Bob Marley.  It was in the very heart of this shame that I found something vital to my humanity.

Is getting free from shame is a major issue for peoples’ lives today?  I’d welcome your comments.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst | Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga Ontario


PHOTO: Auguste Rodin, Eve After the Fall, Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)