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I was vs I am

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ThatGuyNoMore posted 6/6/2014 19:45 PM

I'm reading Brené Brown's Daring Greatly book, and I find it's incredibly relevant for me. I'm currently reading the final chapter which is on parenting. There's a passage here that I think is relevant to us Waywards as we try to heal from what we've done. It's one thing to feel bad about what we've done, but it's another thing to change our behavior so that we never do that again. One of her book's main premises is that shame is not at all helpful. While guilt is an emotion you can work with, shame is destructive.

As it turns out, there's a significant difference between you are bad and you did something bad. And, no, it's not just semantics. Shame corrodes the part of us that believes we can do and be better. When we shame and label our children, we take away their opportunity to grow and try on new behaviors. If a child tells a lie, she can change that behavior. If she is a liar--where's the potential for change in that?

The question I have is whether the language we feel we must use -- I am a liar, I am disloyal, I am an adulterer -- is so shaming that we cannot grow into positive roles -- I am honest, I am loyal, I am committed to monogamy with my SO. It's vital that we own what we've done, whether it's a drunken ONS on a business trip or a pattern of lies, deceptions and LTA's. How do we own what we've done, who we have been, and still be able to heal and grow into the persons that we should be?

I think there are some behaviors that we get to apply in past tense--I was [fill in the blank], or I did [blank], but there are some that are so bad that they will always stick with us--I am [blank]. Which ones are they? How much time must elapse and you show different behavior before you are no longer labeled?

[This message edited by ThatGuyNoMore at 8:05 PM, June 6th (Friday)]

SlowUptake posted 6/6/2014 20:27 PM

I'm going to get on my soapbox a little here. Ok maybe a lot.

Shame corrodes the part of us that believes we can do and be better.

^^^^^^^^^^ What a bunch of horse doo doo^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Brene Brown and her ilk have a lot to answer for the state of our society.

Ever wonder why, when your cut off in traffic and you toot your horn to indicate your displeasure instead of getting a wave to indicate an apology you get the bird instead. No shame.

Ever wonder why, when your in a line and someone pushes in and you indicate your displeasure your told to go f**k yourself. No shame.

The notion that shame is bad in and of itself is ludicrous.

Certain shaming is inherently wrong, e.g. sexual or religious preference.

Other shaming is society's way of keeping entitled people in check. It may or may not be the catalyst for change, but it at least can keep people from behaving badly in public.

Just my 0.02 cents worth.

ETA: Have you noticed the most successful (monetary and popularity wise) self help authors/speakers are the ones that tell the masses what they want to hear?

[This message edited by SlowUptake at 8:49 PM, June 6th (Friday)]

Didact posted 6/6/2014 23:08 PM

SU: thank you.

I don't even know the content of her books, but WW was reading one of them and taking online seminar during the A.

The subtitle of the book was "let go of who you are supposed to be and embrace who you are." The problem was that who my wife was at the time was a destructive liar, using my M with her as a source of amusement for she and her AP. I always imagined that she was being advised to embrace that . The book, the webinar, and the author (who might be really good) are all triggers for me now.

BrokenButTrying posted 6/7/2014 03:05 AM

I've not read the book but I agree shame is a powerful feeling.

Most waywards feel a lot of shame, I know I did. It wasn't helpful in the slightest, in an infidelity situation, shame is far too selfish. It means you're only focused on how YOU feel about what YOU'VE done.

The days I started circling the drain in a shame spiral and didn't want to get out of bed to face what I'd done were the days I did nothing to heal my BH or myself.

Am I ashamed of what I did? Absolutely. But I'm not that person anymore. I am working my arse off to change and my motivation comes from knowing it is possible. Getting sucked into a shame spiral, too much shame, takes away the possibility for change.

I think SU is right, in some situations shame is valuable. But I don't think it is particularly helpful when it comes to healing from infidelity.

WalkinOnEggshelz posted 6/7/2014 08:59 AM

Honestly, I love Brene Brown. What she says and her delivery of the message just really works for me. One of the things that she said that resonated the most to me was that people who are truly happy are the ones that allow themselves to be vulnerable. At this stage, I couldn't agree more.

I also agree that shame is powerful. There is another book by John Bradshaw called Healing The Shame That Binds You that goes into depth of the different types of shame. There is good shame, the kind that keeps you from doing stupid crap and there is bad shame, the kind that keeps you from living life to your full (healthy) potential.

In order to heal, there comes a time when the language must change from I am to I was How to time it really depends on you. Have you done the work to truly change that statement? If you are still scratching on the surface you change the language to I am in the process of.

but there are some that are so bad that they will always stick with us--I am [blank].

Why? Why can't it change to I have done this in the past. I am not proud of that, but I have done and continue to do the work to make sure it does not happen again. I am working to be a better human being. As long as you actually are doing the work. There are people that are monsters out there. There are people that have psychological problems that don't allow them to operate on all cylinders. I'm not talking about those people. I'm talking about the people that are remorseful for their actions.

How many times has it been said that we shouldn't allow infidelity to define us? For example, I have committed adultery. The first year after DDay, I most likely would have told you I am an adulterer, with much she attached to it. My head hung low and my voice at a whisper. Today, I consider someone an adulterer that is actively involved in an affair or continues to have the mindset of a wayward. I have actively been working on myself for the past four years. I have been living my life as authentically as possible. It's no longer how I define myself. However, I feel it's an important part of my history. It's a catalyst for where I am today. It's not just swept under the rug. It's had a strong impact on just about every decision I have made since. I don't go screaming at the top of my lungs "Hey! I have committed adultery! I am better now!" It's not something I am proud of. There is still some shame attached to it. But it's no longer debilitating. It no longer keeps me from functioning.

cdnmommy posted 6/7/2014 12:43 PM

Well, as a BW I can tell you that when my H was feeling shame that was the time I felt the least comfortable trying to reconcile. Shame is dangerous because I think it can allow a person to excuse all kinds of bad behaviour thinking they aren't capable of better. It can be a crippling barrier to progress.

His learning to let go of shame and be comfortable being who he is without trying to pretend otherwise is what allowed him to help me feel safe again.

cdnmommy posted 6/7/2014 12:46 PM

The problem was that who my wife was at the time was a destructive liar, using my M with her as a source of amusement for she and her AP. I always imagined that she was being advised to embrace that .

I so get why this would be a trigger for you. It won't help, but the core of her message is about honesty: being honest with yourself and others about the real you. Of course, I think someone who is deep in an A could probably read something completely different into it. :(

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