Life Beyond Shame

Nearly everyone has experienced the power of the shame- based Old Rules, even though they are not written down and posted for all to see. They are treated like a secret no one is supposed to know. Because they are supposed to remain implicit, if a whistle blower speaks up and says something like, “I feel crazy when you say one thing and do another,” he is likely to be met with a “What in the world are you talking about?” response. This is one of many responses meant to shut down his observation because it threatens the status quo.

The whistle blower is the odd man out when he may tells the truth that threatens the system and the house of cards built around it. Which topics are open for discussion and negotiation is not clear. That allows the “leaders” to change their minds and their accountability whenever they need to!

This book posts the Old Rules. Put them on your refrigerator. Put them on the bulletin board for all to see. It’s better to know what they are, for keeping the package a secret is giving it more power.

Also post the New Rules. They are suggestions for changing what isn’t working for the betterment of all. It’s time for all of us to know what a relationship could be if the New Rules were used to guide our interactions, You will be the one to decide which set, Old or New, works for you. You are the one to know what’s in your best interest.

Old Rules

  • DO AND BE RIGHT

    • Be morally, intellectually and socially right. Don’t make mistakes. Regard yourself and others harshly for errors in judgment and performance.
  • BLAME

    • When you make a mistake or get blamed for something, pass the blame elsewhere.
  • IGNORE YOUR FEELINGS

    • Do not acknowledge your feelings about what’s going on.
  • KEEP SECRETS

    • Do not raise the issue or ask questions about whatever might jeopardize the status quo.
  • BE UNCLEAR AND UNACCOUNTABLE

    • Don’t communicate clearly. Be wary of commitments, promises, and agreements.
  • BE IN CONTROL

    • Manipulate, threaten, coerce and use whatever works to get
  • DENY REALITY

    • What’s going on is not going on. Accept discrepant behaviors and occurrences as normal.

New Rules

  • LEARN

    • …and then learn again from your mistakes.
  • ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY

    • …for your decisions and behaviors.
  • PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR FEELINGS

    • Acknowledge your feelings and use the information they provide to identify what you need.
  • TELL YOUR TRUTH

    • …in the most respectful and likely receivable way, after first recognizing your own.
  • BE CLEAR AND ACCOUNTABLE FOR YOUR AGREEMENTS AND TO YOUR COMMITMENTS

  • ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED

    • Be willing to negotiate. Be responsible for yourself and to others.
  • PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT IS TRUE

    • Keep in touch with your own reality and check out your reality with others you trust. Move toward solving problems instead of denying them.

Copyright: Connie Dawson, Ph.D.

Permission to reproduce this page for educational purposes only.

I don’t believe we are born defective. I believe our perceived defectiveness is learned. The voices of shame say we should be something we’re not or that we are something we shouldn’t be.

When we are born, each of us brings a Light into the world and each of us comes into Being with the expectation we will be well cared for and kept safe. Call this an eternal promise. Our deepest need at this vulnerable place is to be connected to someone we can trust.

Along with joy and goodness, we encounter the challenges of unfortunate and unplanned circumstances. Being born to highly stressed parents during bombing attacks on London. Being born to a mother who dies in childbirth. Being born to a struggling family during hard economic times. Coming of age when a father is fighting a war far from home. Arriving on this Earth to parents who are in the throes of drug addiction.

From our beginnings, each of us experiences what is there for us to experience. Some experiences attract us for what they mean to our nourishment and security. Other experiences are unwelcome because they cause pain and teach us to be wary of the love and connection we crave.

Each soul is here to find its own true nature and, in the process, enrich itself and others.

Sustained by the Light and what gifts we are given, we adapt. We find any way open to us to be safe in the shadow of fearful experiences and do whatever we can to guard our Light from being extinguished. We do the best we can to belong and stay connected and alive.