Take Pride: Freedom from Shame & Humiliation

“You must learn to tolerate the humiliation of taking your child out in public. Try to ignore the stares and insensitive comments of the people around you.” 

Girl Chasing ButterflyI don’t remember where I read these words—I vaguely recall a dingy red pamphlet, given to me by a well-meaning social worker—but I know exactly when. It was February 11, 1988, three months before my son, Adam, was born, one day after an amniocentesis revealed he had Down syndrome. I’d refused what would have been a very late-term therapeutic abortion but not because the diagnosis didn’t bother me. I felt trapped in a bizarre nightmare. In 24 hours, I’d gone from daydreaming about my perfect baby to bracing myself for “stares and insensitive comments.”

My first reaction to that pamphlet was to throw up. Things went downhill from there. I already loved my unborn son, but I had no idea how to “tolerate the humiliation” of being his mother. Avoiding humiliation was practically my religion. I was a slavish overachiever, desperate to succeed, to please, to fit in. Now, it seemed, I would be obviously and publicly shamed in the all-important role of mother.

I didn’t realize that I’d just been handed the key to freedom from the humiliation—and the fear of humiliation—that had always governed me. I was about to learn that my level of shame was always under my own control, that I would endure exactly as much humiliation as I consented to feel, and that instead of tolerating this awful feeling, I could simply dispense with it. All of this is equally true for you.

Phobias, Paralysis, and Poison

In her book Fear and Other Uninvited Guests, psychologist Harriet Lerner points out that of all the forces that shape human behavior, fear of humiliation is among the most powerful. The most common fear is not of illness or accident, but public speaking; soldiers will march into certain doom rather than be branded cowards. Many clients tell me they prefer lives of quiet desperation to the possible embarrassment of trying and failing to realize their heart’s desire.

Humiliation’s power can keep people from violating basic social boundaries. But like tear gas, it has only one effect: incapacitation. Try this little experiment. Say out loud the words “I’m so ashamed of myself,” and notice how your mind and body react. You’ll probably feel enervated, paralyzed, as though you’ve donned a lead straitjacket. These sensations don’t just stop you from doing anything wrong; they stop you from doing anything, period.

To see the effect of this, consider an area of your life in which you feel frustrated and stuck: relationships, work, personal goals, maybe all of the above. Are you doing absolutely everything possible to get what you want in these areas? If not, why not? Why not demand that promotion, resist your critical mother, write your novel? If fear of humiliation is your problem, your answer will probably be something like: “If I do that, people may gossip about me/hate me/laugh at me/judge me.” Or “That’s unheard-of in my family/neighborhood/religion/company.” Or maybe, simply,?”That would make me look greedy/stupid/fat/selfish/wimpy/ wrong.”

These phrases, and any other variation on the “what people might think” theme, are shame mantras. Obeying them prevents all kinds of experiences—but not, it turns out, humiliation. In fact, the more we obey our fear of shame, the more our frame of mind guarantees we’ll feel humiliated.

Choosing Freedom

To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, no one can cause us to feel humiliation or shame without our consent. Conversely, withdrawing our consent can end shame-based pain and paralysis immediately. That’s because the real cause of humiliation isn’t being judged or attacked by others, it’s living in any way that conflicts with your real values. 

For example, there are cultures in which women are terrifically ashamed if they don’t have wooden plates in their lips or metal rings elongating their necks. You probably aren’t wearing either accessory, but this doesn’t make you feel humiliated—and probably wouldn’t even if you were to visit one of these societies—because you don’t adhere to those standards of beauty.

On the other hand, many American women feel deeply humiliated if they have more fat than a ballpoint pen, even though some cultures idealize a hefty figure. Standards of beauty are arbitrary. Body shame exists only to the extent that our physiques don’t match our own beliefs about how we should look. Change the belief “I should be ashamed” to, say, “I should be kind” and humiliation disappears, leaving us empowered rather than paralyzed.

Humiliation Elimination

Align Your Actions With Your Convictions

If your behavior violates your own moral standards, humiliation is a natural consequence. There are two strategies for avoiding this. Strategy number one is obvious: Don’t do anything you think is wrong or fail to do anything you consider morally necessary. I’m guessing you’re a well-meaning person who’s trying to follow the rules, but if you’re having persistent trouble “being good” or if your shame is triggered because of what you are rather than what you do, adopt strategy number two: Stop trying to change your behavior; instead, rethink your beliefs.

I first understood the power of this shift after my son’s diagnosis. Although I desperately feared the humiliation of having an “imperfect” child, something in me resisted giving him up. So, unable to bring my actions into line with my beliefs, I gradually brought my beliefs into line with my actions. I began questioning the assumption that people with Down Syndrome are imperfect. Like anyone else, they are perfectly themselves, as nature made them. Maybe the real defect lay in the belief that such loving and lovable people were defective.

This way of thinking felt strange to me but very right. As soon as I tried it on, I felt my humiliation begin to evaporate. I’ve since heard many clients describe this feeling after flipping a belief on its head. Many have spent years paralyzed by the thought, I feel so humiliated. There must be something wrong with me. Things begin to move the moment they try thinking, I feel so humiliated. Maybe there’s something wrong with my beliefs. (Note: Humiliation won’t disappear unless your new attitude is genuinely okay for you. Merely excusing behavior you feel in your heart to be wrong only increases shame.)

Rejecting humiliation in this way can transform you from a psychological paralytic to a powerful force for positive change. Like Huck Finn wrestling with social training that said he should be ashamed at hiding a runaway slave, then rejecting his belief in slavery, you may discover that your new truth feels “righter” than society’s preconceptions.

Open Up

Once your beliefs are congruent with your actions, the next step toward banishing humiliation is openness. Starting with a person who feels safe and nonjudgmental, raise the very conversational topics you’ve always avoided out of embarrassment. Talk, write, shout, laugh, or cry out loud about whatever humiliates you most.

If this sounds crazy, think about how Princess Diana was embraced by the public for opening up about her eating disorder, her depression, her affairs. On the other hand, public figures who lied to avoid humiliation (Pete Rose, former president Clinton) ended up being more shamed than if they’d been honest from the get-go.

Once you’ve confided in your safe person, begin broadening your circle. Discuss your taboo issue with friends, colleagues, even the world at large. Take this at your own pace, and treat yourself kindly if you get a response that formerly might have mired you in shame. Remember that you are acting as morally as you know how, and that you therefore have no reason to feel humiliated. Then talk to someone else about how awful it felt to be judged. The more open you are, the more others will support you.

Be Proud

Know this: If you are following your own moral rules, the very things you’re ashamed of are likely the things about which you can feel most proud. Say you’ve battled obesity, mental illness, addiction, or abuse: Take pride in the extraordinary courage you’ve shown by surviving and working toward health. If others make you feel ashamed for what you are—your heritage, your sense of what is true for you—you’ll find that expressing pride in those same qualities is the road to inner peace.

This works in silly situations as well as lofty ones. Remember when Rev. Jerry Falwell accused Teletubby Tinky Winky of same-sex orientation? Falwell pointed out that Tinky was purple (gay), had a triangle-shaped antenna on his head (gay), and carried a purse (gay, gay, gay). Instead of counterattacking, a number of people nominated Tinky Winky for grand marshal of the San Francisco gay pride parade, turning a potential shame fest into a jolly celebration. (Tinky Winky didn’t win the vote, but you get the point.)

I got a similar gift from the potential humiliation of having a son with an extra chromosome. Sure, strangers have recoiled, doctors and associates have bluntly told me that keeping him was stupid. Long ago I stopped feeling humiliated by such nonsense. I am proud of everything about Adam, who at 22 is one of the finest people I know. I’ve written about him, traveled the world with him, stood with him before crowds gathered to celebrate his difference. What’s sometimes hard to contain is not the humiliation but the pride and joy of taking my child out in public.

The same process can work for you. Are you ashamed about your body, your history, your loves, your longings? If you know in your heart that these things are right for you, stop trying to fix, change, expel, or squash them. Share them. Take them out in public every darn chance you get. Now say it out loud: “I’m so proud of myself.” The rush of strength and expansiveness that comes from declaring this honestly is the antidote to paralysis and the beginning of many wonderful adventures. And each time you choose that instead of shame, you really should be proud.

53 replies
  1. Ginger
    Ginger says:

    Hi, Martha,
    This, like so many of your topics, are so important–and often so taboo. Shame is the toxic waste dump of emotions–it doesn’t get much worse than shame.
    I had a great experience in minimizing my shame over being afraid to fly when I was given the chance to go to Europe with one of my dearest friends. I took the challenge seriously and began to work with my fear, and shame over the fear, through a program called SOAR that gave me a chance to connect with an understanding pilot-turned-therapist, a whole community of people who were afraid and some who had gotten past it, a technique for addressing the sad early childhood disconnect with feeling safe, and, finally, with the pilots of my flights themselves. It was an incredible experience–really, an experience of a lifetime–and I had the BEST time in London, quite free of fear and shame. What a miraculous moment it is when the shame falls away! Thanks for all your help, Martha, in becoming more me.

  2. Carol
    Carol says:

    May I suggest that humiliation is a gladiator sport in present-day American culture?

    Please reflect on any sit-com shows that you or your family spend time on. How much of the “humor” lies in fascinated observance of people being humiliated? And how does that stuff happening to other people desensitize you?

    You can never get back again time spent consuming brainwashing about humiliation — how awful it is, how much one should avoid it…

    How about a personal movement AWAY from humiliation by using the OFF button to cut that feed? Free yourself from this avoidable source of pain!

    (Avoiding TV is a do-able strategy to find an hour per day to read Martha’s books and do other soul-strengthening activities.)

    • Kim
      Kim says:

      With all due respect to Carol’s suggestion about sitcoms, I have all the compassion in the world for family, friends and total strangers. I personally love sitcoms and I do find they showcase some of life’s hardest situations we find ourselves in. I do find that, sometimes, how they get out of those situations can help me.

      Life is funny sometimes. If we don’t laugh, we cry. I’d rather just laugh.

      • Helen S. Kamadulski
        Helen S. Kamadulski says:

        I’m with you Kim. I don’t think all sit-coms are created equal, by any means, and have found a number that I appreciate because humor is employed in a way that enables the characters to laugh at themselves in their humanness while being accepted and loved by their family and friends around them. The ones that are cruel and mean-spirited, and there certainly are those, are not ones that I watch.

    • Amy
      Amy says:

      I absolutely agree, there are so many prime time TV shows that use the personal humiliation of others as a source of entertainment. I am grateful for those that keep things light and dignified.

    • imelda pearce
      imelda pearce says:

      Here is a recent example of when I felt ashamed without a good reason, although I thought I had worked through shame years ago: I was recently reprimanded in the Temple for the sin of writing on the Sabbath (in Temple, no less). The person who addressed me, in a fervently heartfelt way,must have felt very justified about upholding this belief, and couldn’t have possibly seen me doing the dastardly deed. By the way, this is not a belief I subscribe to. The fact it is still bothering me, two weeks from the incident, means I must wonder if I am guilty! I want to take my power back, and see her outpouring as an expression of caring. Does anyone out there have either a similar experience or a way to help me restore my sense of equilibrium?

      • Grace
        Grace says:

        I had a very similar experience at a retreat, and not a silent retreat either. A friend and I were eating breakfast and talking in the dining hall and someone came over and very sternly told us that that particular meal was silent and we were disturbing others. On the one hand no one had given us the information so we were “innocent” but on the other hand I felt very humiliated and ashamed. If we had known we would have been happy to observe the silence as a part of our retreat, instead we were feeling anything but peaceful. Since then I have requested several times that retreatants be given this information in advance. I have to say it took me quite a while to deal with my feelings of humiliation before I could calmly and peacefully discuss the event.

      • Joe
        Joe says:

        “The person who addressed me, in a fervently heartfelt way, must have felt very justified about upholding this belief, and couldn’t have possibly seen me doing the dastardly deed.”

        Personally I think this person overstepped. Writing in Temple is between you and your higher power. One should be focused on one’s own behavior, and not looking around to see who deserves a scolding. Had this person engaged you in conversation and you raised the issue of sinning and writing, then his or her opinion could have been seen as an outpouring of caring. However, this sounds like you were reprimanded out of context, and the other person is little more than a busybody to do so.

        Second, perhaps “guilty” is too strong a word for your feelings. The incident has stayed with you. Perhaps it is a sign to think about your religion, your spirituality, and the intersection of the two. Perhaps you will find your actions aligned more directly with your religion’s teachings. This is neither a good nor bad thing, objectively. Or perhaps you will remind yourself that the sin of writing in temple is not a sin for you. This too is neither good nor bad.

        I happen to think that religious texts, however beautiful and meaningful, are also full of the agendas of the times they were written. I don’t believe in the “you must believe it all” to be a good Jew/Muslim/Christian/Buddhist/Sufi. I don’t believe in taking the easy way out, either, if something you believe in also happens to be a difficult thing to do. Only you can decide what’s right for you and what does not add to your growth as a member of a particular belief system. I do believe that our spirituality is supposed to make us better people–not make us feel ashamed.

        • Mari
          Mari says:

          Great point Joe and I have as well been humiliated in retreats and a few churches. One thing I may add is that if it is possible to speak to the person whom was in the “scolding” stance in private and tell them how you felt when they did this. For me has become good practice to do so and they are more likely to leave you alone. I recently watched an amazing video on TEDS talks. I believe her name is Ann Cuddy, but it is an amazing reminder of how our body stance/language can determine how others see us…I since have practiced and have noticed immediately that it makes a difference if I square up and calmly state my feelings and so forth…..love this topic!

  3. Laura W
    Laura W says:

    I can’t stand that I can’t trust my own thoughts as realistic or crazy! The new book “Finding Your Way.. states that our verbal thoughts are not truth – but when I see something with my own eyes and witness someones actions I have to be able to make sense of it. Will this hurt me? Will this help me?
    Jealousy has been the theme of my life(my mother was terribly jealous of me) and now I can’t discern if I’m jealous of my boyfriend’s 18 year old hot daughter – or if his behavior towards her is twisted and not healthy. The way he behaves towards her is more in line with a man’s pursuit of an uninterested lover and my gut is sick over it. I meditate and try to guide myself into Wordlessness (Finding Your Way… book is great thus far!). But truth is in what someone does, not what someone says. His daughter’s picture is his computer screen saver, his phone screen saver, probably at least 15 pics in his office, at his home, in his car – not one picture of me anywhere to be found. Most pics are in leotards or short cheerleading skirts, she is 18 years old. He took her to Victoria’s Secret to pick out her Christmas gift this year. He drops everything to go meet her and buy her gas for her car. Now he keeps it a secret. He gets upset when there is a snowstorm and wants to drive her to her cheerleading practice. The first time he met my older brother at a charity function, he pulled out a picture of his daughter in a skimpy cheerleading outfit – my brother thought it very odd. At my first gathering with his family he actually cut me off mid sentence to brag about his daughter, later stating he just wanted her to feel special. Now that’s humiliation!

    I’m ashamed I feel so miserable over this but I don’t know any men who behave this way towards their daughter – my dad never did. Is it my overly sensitive green eyed monster or is his behavior disturbing?

    • Sue
      Sue says:

      Laura, trust your gut, not your perceived need. If this really seems off to you, and you don’t think he’s giving you the regard you deserve after dating you for a while, then why are you with him? Is there something else you’re learning from him? I’m not sure that your issue is jealousy so much as not trusting your instincts and naming them for what they are.

      Now, in his defense, he’s probably keeping his behavior (buying her gas) a secret because you disapprove. Guys do that… they’ll deny anything if they think they’re going to be shamed for it. And he could be feeling BIG guilt for not being more a part of her life. Obviously, he is choosing to spend time with you, so there’s a reason you’re in his life.

      But there are aspects of what he’s doing that seem to focus a little too much on her appearance, rather than who she is to him. He may just need to have that brought to his attention in a less critical way — as her father, he was her first boyfriend, but now he needs to let go of that role. You know, his issue could be jealousy, too.

    • For the Record
      For the Record says:

      For the record, from your description it sounds disturbing: overly attentive “pursuit”, “twisted” behavior, inappropriate pictures in “skimpy” outfits, “secret”. These are your words in quotes. It is easier to second-guess ourselves (blame it on the green monster) rather than believe that something sexually inappropriate may be occurring. Trust your instincts here. Dare I mention sexual abuse. SA does not always involve physical contact – it includes a range of behaviors – and can include taking or viewing inappropriate photographs. The offender is usually well known to the victim and a person we least suspect. There is often a period of “grooming” where the offender’s behavior may be escalating toward physical contact.

      Martha says: “Know this: If you are following your own moral rules, the very things you’re ashamed of are likely the things about which you can feel most proud.”

      If this situation between boyfriend and his daughter is breaking your own moral rules, follow your rules and there is no shame. Stand up for what you feel is morally right, make it public, and take pride in your actions. You may be helping a young person who is in a very uncomfortable or potentially abusive situation.

    • Melissa
      Melissa says:

      You said his behavior is making your gut sick, but then it sounds like you are trying to rise above it by meditating and entering wordlessness. That’s why you feel like you can’t trust your own thoughts. Your gut is speaking to you from wordlessness. It is wordless wisdom. Listen to it. Don’t even try to rise above your gut, it’s there to guide you and protect you. His behavior sounds very disturbing. You don’t sound crazy at all. A little afraid of standing up for yourself, perhaps, but not crazy. You sound observant and you are clearly observing him being obsessed with his daughter. At the same time he’s not being very respectful or honoring of you. Can you ask the daughter privately if she feels comfortable with the way her father acts? Can you talk with him about your observations without him turning on you and calling you jealous? If he’s going to make this “your problem” and not listen to you, you really need to ask yourself why you’re staying. You deserve better. A lot better!

    • Rebecca Cherry
      Rebecca Cherry says:

      Well this is an odd behavior.
      a father should luv his daughter but not to the point that he show nasty pics of his daughter to people let alone have them in his wallet, too much. This man does not respect u. We all coexist together. If the people in our life keep ignoring us, we better feel out of sorts. I this so bad that it bothers u physically. GET OUT!!! This relationship with his daughter is unhealthy to every one involved.

    • nova
      nova says:

      Believe your gut. The whispers you hear have become screaming. Do you talk to his daughter. You may start an innocent conversation and see where it goes. Trust yourself.

    • Anna
      Anna says:

      Laura W, please trust your gut on this. The behavior you’re describing is not normal. I got a sick feeling in my stomach just reading about it. The fact that this man took his daughter to Victoria’s Secret is just plain creepy.

      If you do choose to talk to your boyfriend’s daughter (as Melissa suggested), don’t be surprised if she won’t disclose anything to you. It doesn’t mean nothing is going on. She may not even realize what’s happening. She’s probably been living with her father’s behavior for so long that it’s her “normal.” The only frame of reference she has is one of dysfunction. She may not realize how disturbing her father’s actions are until she has a good distance from them. If she does feel uncomfortable with her father’s behavior, she undoubtedly feels a great deal of shame about it, and would be too scared to discuss it with you.

      In any case, it is clear that you are miserable. You deserve better. Don’t live your life with that nagging “what if” hanging over your head. I wish you the best of luck and peace of mind.

      • Rose
        Rose says:

        My husband displayed all of these behaviors (including the Victoria Secret trips) and admitted later to sexual impropriety. Trust your gut. I kept thinking I was wrong or stupid. My gut did talk to me, but I felt I was thinking wrong. I learned a lot from the experience. I always listen to my intuition now. Over and over it has lead me correctly. It takes courage. It is following your own north star.

  4. Judith
    Judith says:

    You are articulate and I could relate to everything you said. I loved your advice and I wanted to say thankyou for your writings. Please keep writing because you are changing a number of lives and the world is better with your words. Much love, judith.

  5. Jane
    Jane says:

    “…my level of shame was always under my own control, that I would endure exactly as much humiliation as I consented to feel, and that instead of tolerating this awful feeling, I could simply dispense with it…”

    Wow. Thank you Martha…dispensing now.

  6. Laurel
    Laurel says:

    Absolutely liberating….the issue of shame and humiliation hit home as I read this article…this one is being printed and hung on my wall to be read and re-read….

    I love you Martha Beck!

  7. Mary
    Mary says:

    Wonderful, healing article. Love you, Martha. Brene Brown is doing good work in this area also. Such a great need.

  8. Chris
    Chris says:

    These shame mantras, and the way people think are very powerful. They are like a ball a chain that make it nearly impossible to move forward. I am curious though, as to how often this way of thinking, and living gets passed down to children, from the parents?

  9. Jun
    Jun says:

    must be hundreds and thousands readers are grateful to you while reading this simple yet brilliant thinking article. This is an enormous helpful. Thank you martha.

  10. Jan
    Jan says:

    Dear Martha, many times I read and have connected with your topics and subject matter. Again, I commend you for these profound insights. I am a Gay woman, still struggling at times with shame of being a Gay woman….however, since I came out 20 yrs ago, I have since, reconciled (much better) with this position, knowing this about myself, since I was approx. 8yrs old, and realizing where my sexual orientation was most comfortable at. Yes, I got married, have two wonderful children, all grown up, but it’s been quite a ride, to say the least! Thank you, Martha, for these and many inspirational words of encouragement. Nameste, Jan

  11. Nancy Lundy
    Nancy Lundy says:

    For many years, I drank to excess and was always very ashamed of my behaviors…there were many “humiliating” moments in my drinking career…I have not had a drink in nearly five years…Drinking alcohol did not align with my morals and values and I am blessed to have conquered this feat. Thank you, Martha, for opening my heart to celebrate my success. I am so proud of my sobriety. I have overcome many shameful things from my past and have come out the other side a survivor. I am proud of who I am…I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.

  12. Janine
    Janine says:

    I’m nodding at the sage advice Martha offers and then … BHAM! I am hooked by something that says “Oh, yeah. Crap. That’s me.” There is much that I’m proud of. I know I’m on the right path. And simply surviving used to be quite the accomplishment. And now … “living in quiet desperation rather than …” says so much! Time to summon my courage and forge forward!

    Thanks Martha!

  13. Janet
    Janet says:

    What a wonderful world it would be if we could find a way to be proud of ourselves every day and also of those we share our lives with. I am going to try my best to focus on the positives and be proud!!!

  14. Donna
    Donna says:

    I have moments when I celebrate my courage for working to overcome mental illness. I recently re-entered therapy. This time, I feel confident that I will stay the course until I tackle The Beast (whatever it is that I can’t stand to think about in my distant past.) Usually, I run the other way as fast as I can in avoidance. Thanks, Martha, for reminding me how much self-respect and awesome belief in myself I am putting on the line in order to change. Things will only get better!!

  15. Sofie Tvarno
    Sofie Tvarno says:

    Dear Martha, thank you thank you thank you. I am sitting here in my office crying, tears just role down my cheeks. What you wrote really touched me so deeply. Yes i should be proud of having over come abuse, depression and addiction. I should be proud of surviving in a foreign country with three kids alone. I will walk out a little taller today, more honest saying i a proud i have over come these things, and i am ready to solve the rest of my biggest life puzzle, how to make it in the crisis in Greece. I am a Wayfinder so i will find the way, i will keep looking for the tracks 🙂

  16. sue
    sue says:

    Hi Martha. That is such a beautiful, encouraging and empowering post. I loved your book ‘Expecting Adam’, and today I got some of the same feelings that I had back 10 years ago when I was reading it. Thanks for your insights, wisdom and compassionate nature. I still am holding myself hostage through the humiliation I feel from way back as a 5 year old child, yes I have healed to a great degree, but there are still those tenacious and crippling areas that need just that bit more love and kindness and encouragment to break free. So thank you Martha for reminding me with your words.

    Sue x

  17. ChristiHope
    ChristiHope says:

    Absolutely beautiful article. Thank you Martha! Once again you articulate beautifully what the source of the issue is and how to rise above it in the most simplest graceful way. I’m so grateful for your insightful wisdom. Thank you for sharing your wonderful gift!

  18. Nicky
    Nicky says:

    Well done & Well said.

    Ive had being ‘noticed’ forced upon me when my son was born without an eye
    Ive also experinced things that measured unconscious low self esteem.
    On the whole I couldnt care less what other people think..it simply dosnt register.
    When I hear people say ‘your mad’ or only you or ‘most people’ wouldnt think like that, I smile and feel content inside , knowing that Im this way because Ive developed spiritually and Im witness to that self freedom. Its a bit like trying to look through a wall to see whats on the other side and now there is no wall . Long explaination I know 🙂

  19. Maria
    Maria says:

    Thank you, Martha for such a well written and perfectly timed article. I’ve been dealing with the fact that I’m gay AND married to a man. Though, I’ve come to accept this fact over many years, wanting to now get OUT of my marriage after 25 years is bringing up TONS of shame…even from those who at one time encouraged me to “be myself”..Now that my girls are older and I want to start anew for myself I’m finding it difficult and shameful to go and find my authentic self. I have many saying quite the opposite of what i feel is right for me and it brings out doubt and shame…not to mention, FEAR…uuuggg…Which of your books would help me best with this situation?
    Thank you again….your essay rings true, I just need to ring those bells LOUDER!!

  20. Shadi
    Shadi says:

    I was gutted around 2 years ago when I found out without a shadow of a doubt my family of origin were ashamed of my illness and its obvious symptoms (I have a limp now and disability is progressing). I got over the anger, resentment and tears once I read and re-read Dr Harriet Lerner’s books. Now my wish is to reach out to those who feel victimised by society for being ‘different’. Ignorance and behviours that stem from it is nothing short of committing a crime. Ignorant people stab you in the chest so deep it pierces your spirit. My anger and resentment might have lessened to an insignificant amount but my spirit will remain sore unless I can help some others suffering at the hands of ignorant people.

  21. Sophia
    Sophia says:

    I have been shamed and humiliated by a narcissistic family and have used a lot of time healing from this (was the Scapegoat). The other day, rather unexpectedly, a situation occured that was an exact replica of my childhood abuse. After the chock of the experience I realized I was healed – I just saw a couple of disturbed people who had humiliated THEMSELVES. I felt truly sorry for myself (I had not been able to stand up to the humiliation at that moment because of several factors – just like in my childhood). I felt massive self love and realized I was free from the shame and humiliation. I had fully put it back to where it belonged! You cannot let personality disordered folks define you!! They are C R A Z Y.

  22. RAD
    RAD says:

    Thanks for everything you do, Martha Beck. Reading this today allowed me to recognize my fear of judgement from others about my desire to ride a motorcycle. And allowed me to check in with myself – yep, this is all about me and something I love and I’m cool if anyone thinks it’s not a good idea – so I just posted a pic of the bike I bought (last night!) on facebook to share the love and excitement with my community. Feelin’ good.


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