Shaming ourselves does not stop negative behavior

The more we shame ourselves for something we do that we feel is not healthy, the more we will feel powerless to stop it. Powerlessness is the worst feeling imaginable. It's easier to deny the issue altogether than to feel so at its mercy. And that is usually exactly what we do next. After judging an addictive pattern, for instance as hopeless, we will swing straight into denial.

The thing we humans seem least able to handle is the feeling of having no control. Rather than feel that kind of powerlessness, we will minimize, justify, rationalize or flat out deny the issue that is prompting us to feel “at the mercy of …” .

The way to handle an undesirable behavior, circumstance or addiction is not through self denigration or shame… but by recognizing that all behavior – all reaction – comes from something we're believing. Find the belief instead of judge the behavior.

We will go on acting the way we do as long as we believe the story behind the behavior. We cannot act any other way! Shaming ourselves for it WILL NOT CHANGE THE BEHAVIOR! But investigating the thought CAN prompt us towards freedom from it.

When we see ourselves acting in ways that are less than desirable, the thing to do is to find the belief that is fueling the behavior… what mental construct is prompting that act? Find it … write it down and then do a process of inquiry around it.
Use Byron Katie's, Four Questions and Turn Around … (www.thework.com)
as a way to discern what you are believing …

… and then turn your attention to that which you want to see more of ….

Detach from the behavior through inquiry and then point your attention in a more positive direction. This is not denial … it is using the simple and profound Universal Principle of Attraction … that says we manifest what we want by consciously directing the attention to that which we want more of and away from that which is not prospering us.

May you find freedom.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you Susan for your recommendations of other authors who support this view. I’ll check them out. And you are so right about the need to daily cultivate the compassionate inner voice. It’s the only true antidote to shame. Blessings, Lynne

  2. Love your post, Lynne!

    What a great truth, and one we forget. How easily we shame ourselves. And you’re right, Byron Katie’s The Work is great for helping us get out of shame. I’d also suggest “Soul without Shame” by Byron Brown and “There’s Nothing Wrong With You” by Cheri Huber. Both of them basically say that the shaming voice is a negative one, and it’s wily and sneaky and can say things to you that sound objective, but are mean-spirited and condemning like, “You do a better job if you’d take out the trash when you’re supposed to.” Hmm, there’s still a tinge of inducing guilt…so that’s not nice, right? And both authors suggest we learn to turn off the negative and listen to the compassionate, loving voice within. That takes cultivation. Daily practice.

    Thanks for sharing such great wisdom. Shame doesn’t accomplish what we wish it would. Profound.

    With care,

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