The Cycles (Part Two)
“Nine” Part Series
Many individuals come from family systems where their parent(s) are addicted to drugs, alcohol, work, sex, or even religion. Many have received shaming messages from people outside their immediate family like pastors, teachers, friends, coaches, and others. I remember receiving shame messages from my little league coach when I was a young boy. I usually struck out when I came up to bat. One time I struck out three times in a row, and the coach yelled at me in front of the entire team—not to mention all of the people in the stands—”Winton, you are an idiot! You couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn!”
Many are abused with shame from incest, spousal abuse, and child abuse. Some have received shaming messages from muggers or rapists. In nearly sixty percent of all rape cases, the victim knows their attacker. Yet, an extremely low number of victims ever report their rape. The reason is shame!
Bosses at work are outside sources and carry clout in our lives. Being passed over at work for a promotion can introduce shame and the feeling of not measuring up, as does being laid-off or fired.
Religious communities can produce shame in people when they are struggling with sin, doubting God, not complying with the leadership, is not faithfully attending, serving, or giving financially.
MESSAGES THAT SHAME
Perhaps this is the easiest part of the Give-Up cycle to understand. Because of our ongoing experiences with outside sources, we decide who we are based upon what others say about us. When these shaming messages are delivered over and over again, they produce wounds. We translate these wounds and interpret them as: “Something is wrong with me”; “I am defective”; “I am inadequate”; “I am worthless”; “I am stupid or lazy”; or what I consider to be the worst interpretation, “I am a mistake”!
THE SHAME GRID: The Gateway To The Mind
The next character to enter the Give-Up cycle is the mind. The mind is the place where we make decisions. We also activate our emotions and our will from our mind, which can greatly influence the decisions we make about who we think we are. At the front door of our mind is the shame-grid. This shame grid has been established and fortified in us beginning in our mother’s womb. The shame grid continues to be formed in us as a young baby, and it grows with us through childhood, adolescence, and even into adulthood. The shame grid creates a belief system. In other words, what you believe about yourself is often created through shaming messages delivered by outside sources and has been reinforced through the years. This belief system is forged over time and the shame grid perpetuates a continuous cycle of shame.
THE SHAMING PROCESS
Let’s see this Give-Up shame cycle in action. First, you must accept that one of your outside sources is reliable and trustworthy. Often, we trust our parents, teachers, relatives, and friends as reliable sources for information about ourselves. In other words, in order for me to have the power to shame you, you have to believe that I have the power to determine the value of you as a person.
Next, you have to believe what the outside sources are saying about you, which is often the case as you have given them power in your life. Over time, as you continue to hear the same shaming messages over and over, your shame grid is formed and you begin to agree with their assessment of you.
Finally, because of the shame grid you become the judge and jury for who you are. You conclude that what the outside sources have said about you is true, and you condemn yourself in the courtroom of your mind. After years and years of practice, this pattern becomes normal. You never question the outside sources; you simply accept their assessment of you as factual.
Next, your will gets involved and places you at a crossroad. You either choose to “give up” or you choose to “try harder.” If you conclude that your performance has failed, and you decide that you are shameful, defective, and hopeless, then you will “give up.” You will then choose to act in a way that agrees with your assessment of yourself.
Look for The Cycles (Part Three) post tomorrow