Victims of narcissistic abuse struggle with shame, even when they don’t recognize that is the root of their struggle. There are two main reasons for this…
Reason #1- Shame is an incredibly effective weapon which is why narcissists use it so freely. It can reduce even the strongest of person to a mere shadow of their former self, which makes that person easy to manipulate.
Reason #2- Shame is also rather easy to put on someone. Repeating the same message can drill it into someone’s mind. Saying that message with certainty as overt narcissists do or with great disappointment as covert narcissists do helps drive the point home even faster. During the shaming, victims seldom realize what is happening or later that shame is at the root of many of their problems.
If you have been in the position of having a narcissist put toxic shame on you, you’re not alone! Not alone by a long shot! And, for more good news, you can heal. It will take some effort & time, but you can heal.
As always, I recommend starting with prayer. Ask God to show you what to do, to help you to heal & anything else that comes to mind. He will be glad to help you however you need.
You need to acknowledge areas where you feel shame. Write them down if it helps you. I have comprised a list to help you get started. You never need to carry shame for…
- Someone else’s actions.
- Things that were done to you.
- For having different likes, dislikes, values, ideas, feelings than someone else.
- Prejudices against you due to your race, gender, religious beliefs, etc.
- For things your family members have done.
- For having needs or wants.
- For having boundaries.
- For needing help or support.
- For struggling.
Once you identify the areas where you carry shame, they need to be addressed. One thing that helps me to do this is to think logically & unemotionally about the problem. I look at it objectively & ask myself if I have anything to be ashamed of in this particular situation. If not, then why do I feel shame for it? Looking at it this way helps me to see the toxic shame that has been put on me for what it is. That makes it easier to release.
I find it also helps to ask God what the truth is in the situation. Do I deserve to feel the way I do? Have I done anything that warrants me feeling this way? What is the truth in this situation? His words speak life so His answers are incredibly freeing & eye opening!
Another thing that has helped me heal from shame is to identify who precisely put the shame on me, then to envision giving it back to them. I know this sounds odd at best, but it can be surprisingly helpful. I have envisioned myself holding a box containing all the toxic shame that has been put on me. The box is ugly & even moving, so it’s pretty disturbing.. just like toxic shame. I hand that box to the person who put the shame on me & tell them this is yours. I refuse to carry it for a moment longer. Narcissists refuse to accept any responsibility for their actions, so even when I imagine this scenario, they avoid touching the box. I say that is fine, then put the box at that person’s feet & walk away. When I have mentioned this to other people, some have said they have done something similar. Some have imagined putting the box at the foot of the cross where Jesus was crucified instead.
Toxic shame is a terrible thing, I know, & no one should have to live with it. I pray that what I have said can help you to heal from the damaging effects. God bless you!