Listed below are examples from a previous counseling client, of past personal experiences and the resulting behaviors in her life. (I have received her permission to use them as examples)
In Part One, her personal experiences are categorized into groupings titled, “I’m not valued,” “It’s not fair!” and “What about me?” Thoughts, feelings and perceptions like these are likely to lead to recurrent dysfunctional thoughts and feelings that we may be experiencing in our lives today.
This often occurs when we translate these kinds of formative experiences into a pride-based strength upon which we have come to depend, a shame-based self-image we have tried to overcome or a fear-based behavior in order to manage what we perceive to be unsafe situations.
Because sin has corrupted the condition of our souls – pride, shame, and fear are intricately woven into most of our foundational root judgments and the resulting behaviors we experience today.
Examples of circumstances from the past which represented: “I’m not valued / It’s not fair! / What about me?”
- I’m Not Valued (or I’m a Burden) – Childhood Recollections.
Hated by father since conception.
Cried myself asleep almost every night throughout childhood.
Felt like I should never have been born.
Father gave me no affection and handled me roughly.
Father at times became enraged and instead of talking to me he would beat me; the last time being the night before I moved away at age18.
I was blamed by my father as the primary reason he wasn’t able to finish his schooling.
My mother did not protect me from his anger and violence and pretended everything was okay. She also hid my Dad’s alcoholism from everyone.
I used to walk 2 miles away to buy candy to give to my Dad to make him temporarily happy.
Tremendous guilt and shame for asking for help or for anything material (food, etc).
Father verbally ridiculed and berated me, calling me “stupid” and “useless.”
Dad complained bitterly when we’d ask him to help us do something.
I learned not to ask my father for money or any favors.
I worked odd jobs starting at age 10 for spending money.
I spent as much time alone and away from home as possible.
Paternal grandmother lived with us at various times and made us feel of very little worth.
She fed us stale food and was extremely critical and stern.
Maternal grandmother and mother always commented or complained about my appearance. From an early age I felt unattractive.
Valued by parents only if I succeeded at something publicly in school or (later) career.
I was often “shut down” by father and brothers who were more articulate communicators.
The worst thing I could do was to embarrass them in public.
- I’m Not Valued (or I’m a Burden) – Adult Experiences
Throughout my life, if I felt that I wasn’t wanted or welcomed for some reason, I would immediately leave or even move, even if it risked my life to do so.
Abruptly left friends in a foreign country as a teen.
Abandoned many relationships throughout life because I was “hurt.”
- It’s Not Fair – Childhood Recollections (In general I didn’t think in terms of fairness- perhaps I learned to expect mistreatment?)
Verbally abused by father; he would react physically and violently with me (alcoholic).
He neglected me and resented being a father.
He did not hug, kiss, or play with me as a child but would sexually threaten my sister and me as teens when he was drunk and my mother rejected his advances.
I have no memory of any specific kindness directed towards me from him until after he stopped drinking at about the age of 55.
I was unable to be myself, speak frankly, ask for help, etc.
I had to “represent the family well,” and not embarrass mom or dad in public.
To both grandmothers, outward appearance was of utmost importance.
I would often protect defenseless siblings but, it seemed like no one ever defended me.
When my dad beat me, family members stood around and watched. Some seemed to gloat when I was punished. I often felt betrayed by them. My mother was often the one who complained about me and stirred up my dad to beat me.
- What About Me? – Childhood Recollections
Neglected or ignored by many in home and school.
Suffered much emotional pain, mostly alone with little comfort.
- What About Me? – Adult Experiences
Great disappointment in not finding support when I was seriously ill for an extended period with a non-diagnosed condition.
Various relatives and others didn’t believe I was ill.
The examples below are the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that developed as a result of her past experiences, especially as they became connected to pride, shame and fear. (Apply your own personal examples to theRelational Root Judgment Freedom Declaration)
(Fear/pride) In my 20’s as a non-believer, I tried to control every relationship to avoid being hurt and rejected.
(Fear and shame) I can see a pattern of attempting to “buy love” i.e. sacrificial giving to those I want favor from and likewise, withholding gifts from those I don’t.
(Pride) I was and still am very much addicted to duty-pleasing others as a way of life.
(Pride) I rarely ask for help and when others offer to help my first response is usually “no”.
(Fear) I try to control relationships by pushing people away at times.
(Fear/pride) I do not like to be misunderstood.
(Fear) I fear closeness or intimacy in relationships.
(Pride) I searched for love and acceptance in many failed relationships over time.
(Fear) Confrontation from angry people terrifies me.
(Shame) I avoid looking at myself in mirrors and own very few mirrors.
(Fear/pride) I feel “invaded” or “harassed” when pursued aggressively by others; I am most comfortable with gentle, compassionate people.
(Fear/pride/shame) I feel anxiety if I am overlooked or ignored.
(Pride/fear) I can also get anxious if I don’t understand someone or something.
(Fear) Exposure anxiety: I am very self-protective; I avoid people and crowds in general.
I often crave being left alone; loneliness is not usually an issue with me.
I also have a strong desire for unconditional love.
(Pride/fear/shame) I perceive defensive boundaries in my life.
I find it embarrassing and difficult to accept praise or correction.
I don’t believe people care about the things I care about.
(Fear) I am inclined toward detachment from surroundings if I’m uncomfortable.
(Fear/shame) Sometimes I feel paralyzed in social situations and don’t know what to say.
It can feel like I’m experiencing a “sensory overload.”
(Pride/fear) I can talk excessively when I’m nervous, especially with people who’re quiet.
(Fear/shame/pride) I don’t like being stared at by people-at the pool or stores.
(Fear) I hate being on stage or the center of attention-especially opening gifts at parties.
(Shame/fear) I prefer writing my thoughts down over talking to others in person, and talking by telephone is preferable to face-to-face conversation.
(Pride, fear) I don’t like to be under anyone else’s control; sometimes I create diversions or passive retaliatory responses.
(Fear) I’m hyper-vigilant to what I perceive as “dangerous” situations i.e. situations in which I’m uncomfortable or feel “threatened” in some way.
(Fear/pride) I don’t like making mistakes; losing or breaking things leaves me feeling out of control.
(Pride/fear) I have difficulty receiving correction from others unless I’m convinced of their care.
(Pride) Self focus and self-pity.
(Shame) I feel unattractive and it is very difficult to look at myself in a mirror.
(Pride/fear/shame) I want to do well otherwise I don’t want to participate in games, etc.
(Pride) I can get bored if something is not about a subject I’m interested in.
(Pride) I feel as though I work very hard for others while others seldom help me.
Copyright © 2004 by R. Thomas Brass
All rights reserved.