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Video: The Unbearable Weight Of Shame - Interview
Feelings of guilt and shame can be beneficial, but can also be detrimental to a person. Constant aggression directed at oneself makes it difficult to feel the fullness of life. Can these feelings be corrected? How to work through your deepest feelings? We talk about this with psychotherapist
Is it possible to get rid of feelings such as guilt and shame, suppress them?
At one time, I really liked the idea that Gestalt therapists often use: all feelings can have normal expression, or they can become toxic. Normal shame is most like an autopilot signal. This is a feedback signal indicating that you are out of bounds. When a person goes out to speak for the first time, it is not normal if he does not feel some discomfort. But sometimes this experience becomes unbearable, exciting. Then they talk about "toxic" shame, that is, excessive, this unnecessary feeling.
Daniil Khlomov is a psychotherapist, gestalt analyst, director and head of long-term training programs at the Moscow Gestalt Institute. President of the Association of Practicing Psychologists, a member of the International Association for Group Psychotherapy, a member of FORGE - an international coaching federation in the field of gestalt therapy, a member of the Council of the International Association for the Development of Gestalt Therapy (AAGT), a permanent trainer of international programs for gestalt therapy (Germany, France, Great Britain, USA).
Is it possible with shamelessness to return to a normal feeling?
The opposite of shame is pride. A person filled with shame strives to do something that would overlap his past failures, sins, that is, to do something heroic.
What, then, should someone with toxic shame do if they don't compensate for it with pride?
Shame goes away if you can share it with someone. For example, you arrive in a foreign country and do not know how to contact. How do people act? They come in pairs to share this experience. If you have someone to tell about your unbearable shame and the person can listen and take your experience seriously, this is the way out of the isolation that toxic shame generates.
We fight with shame after the event, when the trauma has already been received
First you need to become aware of your experience, then overcome the tendency to isolation. A person who is ashamed has a desire to separate, to run away from other people, to hide. As they say: "to sink into the ground for me", "to hide so that no one can see me." On the one hand, the trend is good. If a person has committed an offense, it is not safe. Therefore, the desire to be alone is normal physical safety. On the other hand, in order for this feeling to pass, it is very important to have a trusted person with whom you can talk everything.
It is also important that shame allows you to listen, react more attentively. At the same time, this feeling suppresses physical activity. For example, when performing, the movements become awkward, it is impossible to breathe, speak. Setting the autopilot makes it difficult to further deviate: once you have already deviated, until more is needed. All functions of shame can be good or bad. For example, a person cannot ask for a raise, but instead waits for the boss to propose to him. Due to false modesty, he remains behind, although he had every chance of promotion.
Shame is a kind of anger, just turned inward
Is guilt a product of shame? Is there guilt without shame?
In my opinion, guilt is more dangerous. For example, a small child indulged in, pulled the tablecloth, the vase fell and broke. The kid is punished: they may be spanked or strictly say that this should not be done. And now, after a while, this child also runs, pulls the tablecloth in the same way, and another vase breaks. The kid is crying, he is already punishing himself. Guilt is a built-in punisher. We do not know what exactly the parents forbade, for which the person will blame himself. It is quite possible that, having committed a "bad" act, he will unconsciously punish himself. For example, the family did not live well, it was "bad" to buy expensive things. Later, the person experiences difficulties acquiring something significant. He will buy a car and will definitely knock or crash seriously. This is a very common occurrence. The more dreams come true, the stronger the punishment can be.
It turns out that there is no shame or guilt?
These two feelings are related. If I do not have some kind of reference point, I do not know what is wrong in my actions. Then I cannot punish myself with the experience of guilt. It's very important to accept your actions: yes, I did wrong. And then not to punish myself, but to understand why I did this. Maybe there was some reason in this, and then there is no point in blaming yourself. There are people who have too much guilt. Most often, they try to get out by being loved: yes, I am to blame, but you love me.
Wake up, lynching is coming
A number of psychological surveys in recent years in different countries (from India to the United States, England and Scotland) have confirmed that more than 90% of women feel guilty every day. Some of them several times a day. About a third of the participants in each of the polls even wake up at night with terrible guilt. Among its main reasons are insufficient attention to children, passivity, lack of willpower (including when losing weight).
Can you atone for guilt? For example, just ask for forgiveness …
It's good. In the well-known rehabilitation program for overcoming alcohol and drug addiction there are stages during which work takes place with the experience of feelings of guilt. A person seeks to compensate for the damage that he brought to other people by his drunkenness. Many have had this experience: when you wake up after drinking, the feeling of guilt covers.
And the feeling of shame then when you are shown a video of how you had fun there
Many people do not know how to forgive, not only others, but also themselves. In some ways they are like a child who cries and spanks himself for breaking a vase. Of course, those around them are calmer: you don't have to worry about punishment, the person will cope on his own. But this is an active auto-aggression, destruction of myself and what belongs to me, which is valuable to me. This is a dangerous process. Many failures may well be associated with feelings of guilt.
And you can't say: “Go to hell! I am not guilty of anything in front of you, and I live beautifully”? Why don't these mantras work?
Such people seem to be dangerous to society. For example, the show "Dexter" is just about that. If a person's ordinary feelings work differently or do not work at all, he needs to build some kind of his own system. Dexter fights with criminals, with other bad ones, because he has no other way of orienting himself towards a socially acceptable life. The scheme is simple: “I am not good enough, but I will kill those who are much worse than me. And so I will be good."
Can the therapist help to process shame and guilt into some more pleasant feelings, creative, constructive?
Rather, just deal with difficult experiences. To cope alone is very long, difficult and unpleasant. It's easier to say it, and then some way will be revealed. Each has his own, because each person is unique.
Shame or rumor?
Have you ever wondered why many people, like yourself, look away when they speak? Maybe they're lying? Or are they hiding something? Or are they ashamed? Are they guilty?
Japanese psychologists at Kyoto University in a recent experiment have advanced in answering this question. People were asked to look or not to look in the eyes and generate verbs. It turns out that mutual eye contact stimulates thought processes in a very special way. When we talk or listen in the course of a conversation, our brain builds visual images on the go. Eye contact distorts this thinking process. We see the interlocutor, study his gestures, interpret facial expressions, this distracts and leads us into thinking not about the topic of the conversation, but about the interlocutor himself. That is, the real subject of the review prevents us from building visual images for a deeper understanding of what we have heard.
The more difficult the story you are telling or being told, the more likely you will have to look away. If your interlocutor looks away, this does not mean that he is shy or hiding something - he is likely to listen to you very carefully and understand.