Shame is Layered and Sneaky
Apr 29, 2021
When we do the healing work, it is not easy to face the wound of our inner child, because shame is layered and sneaky. It is one of the more difficult emotions to work with. Other emotions are more straightforward. Sadness is sadness, you can identify it more easily. You have been sad before and have seen other people express their sadness. Same with anger. Although you might have judgments about feeling it, you recognize it as is anger, and most of the time, you know what to do to release it. Shame hides and covers up other emotions. When the original wound, for example, sadness or anger, is ignored and isn’t witnessed or validated by another loving person, or worst, if it was made fun of, ridiculed, or used for another person’s benefits, we learn that what we feel is not acceptable. We understand that being sensitive is not useful to survive, and it can actually be emotionally unsafe to be so.
Belonging, love, and safety are essential to the growth of a child. Without it, we are too vulnerable, and we die. To survive, we need to belong, and to belong, we need to adapt to our environment. So we learn to suppress how we feel and over time we begin to feel inadequate and ashamed of who we truly are. We place a layer of shame on top of the core wound to prevent us from going back in and feeling it. Shame makes sure we feel bad enough about ourselves that we will never love or validate our core wound. Shame acts as a barrier to make sure no one sees the parts of us we want to hide.
Compounding this effect, shame thrives in silence. We don’t talk about the wound, and we also don’t talk about the shame we have about the wound. Twentieth-century psychologist Carl Jung called this part the “shadow self”, the hidden parts of our being, the parts we don’t show the world and often can’t see ourselves. Jung wrote, “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” So, we build ourselves up and out, we project to the world an image of who we believe we should be, detached from our sensing core. This self-image acts as another barricade, another layer, like an onion, protecting the core, the wound, and the shame. And on and on it goes.
It’s no wonder that, after all these years, when you explore your inner world, confusion and intense emotions come up. You might not be able to gain clarity and get results right away. The little child in you has been through so much and is hidden under so many layers. Your job is to take your time, to be patient, and to be extra kind and loving to yourself. Be curious. You will discover something about your inner child that is entirely new to you. In time, you will find out who you really are, who you were before others needed you, before the world told you who you should be.
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