By Jason Koenigbaur MTS, C.Hyp, RP
If you are interested in starting therapy but feel somewhat anxious about making that step, then reading this may be helpful for you. It is not easy to open up to someone for the first time, especially with very personal and intimate issues. Perhaps some of these issues have been pushed down for a long time and there is a discomfort about bringing them up. Or maybe there is a feeling of being judged about discussing them? I think these apprehensions are normal. My concern however is if you feel shame about expressing your feelings.
Shame is a normal emotion which helps us to revaluate our actions and to take the steps towards reconciling with others. Toxic shame however can get started in childhood. When a child experiences a rupture in a relationship with a parent and is made to feel that it is their fault, then this is what creates a shame bind. The child learns that it is not good to share their feelings with others because they can be made to feel that there is something wrong with them. Feelings gets bound to shame and the child learns to shut down their voice in an attempt to avoid any further shaming and rejection. As an adult you continue the "shame bind" with all of your relationships by denying your feelings, needs and wants. It is easier to focus on others needs and disowning your own in an attempt to make sure that all of those others do not discover your defects. The "inner child" part of you grieves and longs to be validated, loved and understood unconditionally.
Sharing your story is a heroic step towards undoing the "shame bind." It can be undone. A positive and validating therapeutic relationship brings light into the dark recesses of shame. When this happen transformation begins to happen. You might start to realize that your "hurt inner child," is leaving those dark shadows and is in joyful anticipation of being in the "light" of your authenticity.