A friendly reminder from Al Anon, and me
“Shame is that dark, powerful feeling that holds us back. Yes, shame can stop us from acting inappropriately. But many of us have learned to attach shame to healthy behaviors that are in our best interest.
In dysfunctional families, shame can be tagged to healthy behaviors such as talking about feelings, making choices, taking care of ourselves, having fun, being successful, or even feeling good about ourselves.
Shame may have been attached to asking for what we want and need, to communicating directly and honestly, and to giving and receiving love.
Sometimes shame disguises itself as fear, rage, indifference, or a need to run and hide, wrote Stephanie E. But if it feels dark and makes us feel bad about being who we are, it’s probably shame.
In recovery, we are learning to identify shame. When we can recognize it, we can begin to let go of it. We can love and accept ourselves — starting now.
We have a right to be, to be here, and to be who we are. And we don’t ever have to let shame tell us any differently.
Today, I will attack and conquer the shame in my life.”
A Message from Me
When you are in a relationship with someone who disregards your feelings repeatedly, hurting you, and tells you he/she is not responsible for your feelings, without showing convincing empathy, then this is not a healthy relationship and very likely not a person worth your investment or company.
“The Four Agreements,” Nonviolent Communication, Al Anon, Codependents Anonymous, and Buddhism all teach that no one else can make us feel a certain way — that we have control over our reactions and feelings. This is true if we have practiced mindfulness extensively, learned to detach, and remove triggers from our psychologies. But none of those philosophies espouse being callous, exploitive, or cruel. So they aren’t an excuse for people to treat us badly, and then blame or shame us for feeling hurt.
Our more common social contract is the golden rule, which is intended to reduce harm and promote peace.
Look at the person whose behavior hurts you. Is he or she a person who is honest, genuine, with integrity, who brings goodness to the world, participates in harmonious relationships, and avoids harming other creatures? Does he/she resemble in behavior someone who would be a good monk, therapist, sponsor, elementary school teacher, nurse, President? Or, is this person focused on personal gain and gratification, often at the cost of others? If the latter is true, then this person is certainly not entitled to claiming virtue and blaming or shaming you for your feelings. If he or she cites Buddhism, “The Four Agreements,” or a modern self-help theory, ask him or her, Does this theory endorse personal gratification at the cost of others, and deny the value of empathy or sympathy?
You are not crazy, or wrong, for feeling hurt and asking for modifications to your interactions. You have a right to ask that your needs in the relationship be met, that your feelings be considered, and that you, as a whole, are respected. You also get to decide what it means, for you, to be respected. No one else can decide for you what is the right way to treat you. When your requests are not honored, you are entitled to putting him or her out of your life.
You deserve better.