Recapping a little, shame is a painful emotion. Your brain works hard at keeping you from that pain. First it tries to prevent the pain from happening through a variety of control mechanisms. When they fail (and they always do) your brain then goes into denial mode trying to numb the pain of shame. Following are ten forms of denial;
Denial Numbs the Pain of Shame
- Suppression – You consciously choose to “not go there”. You avoid the topic. You dodge the counselor who wants to bring it up. You ignore the book or the blog post that someone sends you that discusses your issues of shame.
- Repression – Your subconscious mind gives you “selective” amnesia. It knows what you can’t handle and blocks your mind from remembering painful events in your life.
- Projection – This is when you see your problem in someone else but you can’t see it in yourself. How convenient!
- Care-taking – You invest in helping others to take the focus off yourself.
- Medication – alcohol, pills, meth, shopping, exercise, food, sleep, self-harm, partying like a rock star…you name it. Whatever it takes to numb the pain and escape your reality.
- Lying – Don’t like your story? That’s easy. Just change it. Who needs to be a perfectionist (see previous list) when you can just lie about your life?
- Secretiveness – Not necessarily lying but leaving out the parts of your life that make you feel vulnerable.
- Defensiveness – You push back on anyone that gets too close to your issues. You point out their problems to deflect the spotlight from your problems.
- Rationalizing – We are all experts at this. Our minds are trained to provide a ready excuse for our shortcomings rather than bear the pain of admission and taking responsibility.
- Minimizing – It’s no big deal. I’ve always been this way and I’m fine. Don’t worry about it. Don’t get so bent out of shape. You’ve probably said something like this, right?
Hurting People Numb Their Pain
As I said before…you don’t do these things because you are a bad person. You do them because you are a hurting person. People take painkillers to kill the pain. The solution to these coping skills isn’t to “work on them”. The solution is to face your shame…find out why you feel so worthless and let God speak to you about your inherent worth.
I think it helps to look at a list like this to connect the dots of your behavior. When you see that you do four or five things on this list it might cause you to wake up and realize that you have an issue that needs some attention.
Question: What other things do you see people do to numb the pain of their shame? Please take a second to leave a comment below and forward on Facebook.
- Ten Ways Shame Manifests in Your Life – Study Guide 3 (readingremy.com)
- Coping Mechanisms are the Solution Not the Problem (readingremy.com)
- Why Would Anyone Harm Themselves? (mkrecoverycoaching.com)