How To Deal With Toxic Shame (E25)

How To Deal With Toxic Shame (E25)

toxic shame man

Episode 25 – Toxic Shame

Hello – and welcome to episode 25 of the Men’s Self-Help Podcast. I’m your host, Dr. John Moore. I’m a licensed psychological well being skilled out of Chicago, Illinois – and I’ve been concerned with remedy and training work for the higher a part of 15-years.

In addition to those issues, I additionally train school programs psychology and enterprise.

If you’re a follower of this present, you already know that I created this podcast as a result of I wished to increase the partitions of my observe and attain three particular teams of males.

The first are guys who’re open to matters about wellness and naturally gravitate in direction of materials associated to self-help.

The second group are males who could have been beforehand identified with one thing – may very well be melancholy, nervousness, ADHD or a trauma.

And then there’s the third group. Here, I’m speaking about males who’re by no means going faucet on the door of somebody like me – a therapist – to share what’s occurring of their life.

It ain’t taking place, which makes me about as well-liked as a porcupine in a balloon manufacturing facility for lots of those guys.

BUT, these similar males could be curious sufficient to placed on some earbuds and hearken to a present that speaks to one thing occurring of their lives.

Regardless of what introduced you to at this time’s present, I need you to know that thrilled you’re listening. Oh, and earlier than I neglect – I acknowledge that ladies additionally hearken to this podcast.

In many circumstances, they’re hoping to realize new perception into the male thoughts and to raised perceive how guys suppose. And so, in case you occur to be a girl listening, right here’s an enormous welcome.

Now fast disclaimer. I’m not your private therapist and this podcast isn’t designed to behave as an alternative to psychological well being counseling. Instead, consider this present as a conduit to studying.

We’re Talking About Toxic Shame

OK – with that stated – one of many causes guys tune into the Men’s Self-Help Podcast is to realize concrete, actionable instruments for working by difficult life points.

My hope is that by listening, you’ll get precisely what you’re on the lookout for to create momentum for change.

Which brings us to at this time’s matter … Shame.

You know what I’m speaking about proper? It’s that feeling you get that runs by your whole physique that claims, “You are faulty” or “You are lower than”.

Some folks even describe disgrace in physiological phrases, that means they will really feel it as a chilly chill working down their backbone or warmth that runs proper up their neck.

Can you relate?

If so, you aren’t alone. Here’s the full-on reality – there’s numerous males who stay with disgrace and it immediately impacts their self-worth.

Insidious in nature, disgrace has a manner of permeating your whole life and damaging your self-perception.

And so, as a part of this present, I’ll share with you the story of Nick; a twenty-five-year-old man who I labored with not too way back that struggled with this downside.

I’m additionally going to let you know a current expertise I had with disgrace. Here’s a touch – over the previous a number of weeks, I’ve began sporting a prosthetic tooth.

Yep, that’s proper – one in every of my enamel is lacking.

So, we’re going to speak about that.

We’re additionally going to speak about this week’s listener electronic mail from a person who’s struggling to be emotionally current after the start of his son and isn’t positive what to do about it.

Do have points being emotionally out there? Are you fearful about being a brand new dad? If the reply is sure, you’ll wish to maintain listening.

Lot’s of matters coming in at this time’s present. I’m actually glad you’re right here.

Toxic Shame – A Closer Look

Shame – it’s a subject that doesn’t get practically sufficient consideration in at this time’s society, significantly with regards to males and feelings. Know what I’m saying?

Some of it’s possible you’ll be questioning – what’s disgrace? Well, I’m going to provide you a non-clinical, watered down definition.

Here it goes:

At its core, disgrace is a painful emotional state that encompasses your whole physique. Like nervousness, it’s an intense and infrequently overwhelming have an effect on that’s related to your autonomic nervous system.

And right here’s the ugly half – it makes you’re feeling such as you’re in some way faulty, that means you aren’t ok and “lower than” – so to talk.

The bodily manifestations of disgrace can embody:

  • Blushing
  • An incapability to make eye contact
  • Other physique language alerts, like a slumped physique.
  • Speaking in low or nearly whispered tones

But wait – there’s extra:

Shame is a survival response, much like flight, combat and freeze. In this fashion, it truly is much like nervousness. If you will have an opportunity, try episode 4 to study extra about this primal response.

At any fee, for this reason disgrace is so highly effective – as a result of it manifests itself psychologically and emotionally. When mixed, the 2 create a vicious cycle that repeats itself in perpetuity.

Shame vs. Anxiety vs. Guilt

Now I wish to differentiate two phrases that usually get confused with disgrace. The first is concern and the second is guilt. While comparable in nature, they aren’t precisely the identical and right here’s why:

Fear is nearly all the time centered on the supply of the risk. An instance could be seeing a bear within the woods that causes you to momentarily cease in your tracks – to hesitate.

Shame, alternatively, isn’t about one thing exterior. Instead, it’s about what you’re feeling deep inside.

See the distinction?

The different one is guilt.

An instance right here could be feeling unhealthy about dishonest in your accomplice or plagiarizing on an essay as a way to get a passing grade.

Almost all the time, guilt entails a destructive analysis a couple of particular habits.

Shame, nevertheless, is an inner judgement about your whole self, seen by the lens of a destructive mild?

See how that works?

Well, I suppose now’s nearly as good as time as any to let you know the story of Nick. It wasn’t way back that I labored with him and on the time, he was round twenty-five.

Toxic Shame – The Story of Nick

When he known as me, Nick stated he wished to speak handle some points associated to shallowness. In our preliminary telephone dialog, he talked about that he was having issues with courting and making new buddies.

In our work collectively, I discovered that as a baby, Nick had been chubby. In faculty, he was bullied by his schoolmates and known as some extraordinarily hurtful names.

Nick additionally shared that the bullying didn’t simply occur at college. His dad and mom additionally made feedback; phrases that might have a profound impact on his growth.

Examples embody his father referring to him as “fats ass” and saying he was a “loser” for not being fitter.

His mom, alternatively, wasn’t as destructive – however her feedback had been caustic all the identical. She would say issues like: “If you simply strive a bit of tougher, you possibly can be like the opposite boys and never be chubby.”

Now right here’s the factor. Nick had an undiagnosed medical situation throughout his early life that immediately contributed to his weight points.

In his case, he had an underactive thyroid that had the impact of slowing down his metabolism. It wouldn’t be till later in life that this situation was detected – and handled.

So, all through most of his grade faculty years, Nick was challenged by this challenge. Thankfully, in highschool, he began getting therapy, which had dramatic outcomes.

In truth, it was throughout highschool that Nick began to return into his personal. He started taking part in sports activities, together with soccer and baseball. He additionally joined the health club and commenced understanding obsessively.

Now, I’m telling you all of this as a result of by the point he had come to my workplace – once more, he was 25 – Nick was extraordinarily constructed and undeniably good-looking.

Shame and Parental Introjects

But right here’s the factor – these messages he acquired from early childhood about his physique had been nonetheless taking part in in his head. In psychology, there’s a time period for this known as parental introjects.

That’s a flowery manner of claiming that feedback made by a mum or dad throughout the early life get embedded into the psyche.

In Nick’s case, on the acutely aware and even unconscious degree, he had been traumatized. By this I imply he had been emotionally scarred by the feedback his dad and mom had made, inflicting him to replay these introjects in his thoughts.

The finish consequence was deep disgrace.

It didn’t matter that within the right here and now that Nick was as match as a fiddle. It additionally didn’t matter that individuals thought he was enticing.

Nope – that’s as a result of anytime Nick met somebody new, be it a courting prospect or the prospect to make new buddies, he had psychologically regressed again to the time the place the trauma was inflicted.

This meant as an grownup, he blushed when going out on dates and struggled to make eye contact with people he actually wished to be buddies with.

And so, in our work collectively, a lot of our time was spent processing his emotions and deconstructing these early parental messages that had been taking part in in his head.

Working Through Shame

Part of this concerned validating his emotions and whereas additionally using the tenets of cognitive behavioral remedy to disrupt the poisonous pondering.

It additionally concerned elements of mindfulness, together with affirmations, to assist distance him from his ideas in order that he may observe them … versus being managed by them.

Speaking of affirmations, I nonetheless have the one I gave to Nick. Three occasions a day, I requested him to say the next in his thoughts’s eye:

I absolutely embrace and love myself

I absolutely embrace and love myself

I absolutely embrace and love myself

You know, essentially the most highly effective factor Nick did – at the least in my opinion – was bringing his disgrace to mild. You see, that’s the factor about disgrace – as soon as we expose it out into the open, warts and all, it has much less energy over us.

This means being conscious of “ought to statements”, akin to “I ought to have a greater physique” and “I needs to be sturdy sufficient to … fill within the clean” are necessary to pay attention to.

In CBT – properly, a associated strategy known as Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy – we name this “Shoulding on ourselves”. Do you do that?

At any fee, I’m going to hyperlink to an article on Psychology Today from Dr. David Sack, who presents 5 methods of working by disgrace. These are, to a lesser or larger diploma, the approaches I took with Nick.

Here’s a fast rundown of the 5 methods:

1. Bring disgrace to mild

2. Untangle what you feel

3. Unhitch what you do from who you’re

4. Recognize your triggers

5. Make connections

Now firstly of this present, I shared with you one thing I not too long ago skilled associated to disgrace. Specifically, I’m speaking about my new actuality, whereby I’m sporting a prosthetic tooth.

Yep, that’s proper – I’m sporting a “flipper tooth”.

You could also be questioning why? After all, I’m in my late 40’s so why on earth would I’ve one thing like this.

My Own Toxic Shame

It’s fairly easy. Over the summer season, I had a cavity that had set in. While I knew it was there, I selected to disregard the rattling factor as a result of I felt ashamed of getting it within the first place.

That could sound foolish however it’s true. Some of that disgrace pertains to not doing what was needed to forestall that cavity. In reality, I may have been higher at brushing my enamel earlier than mattress. But to maintain it actual with you, I usually didn’t.

The different explanation for that disgrace comes from my childhood. You see as a child, I had bucked enamel with an enormous hole within the entrance. Sometimes, children would name me names – like “gappy”, after which grin at me with a goofy look.

It wouldn’t be till later in life that I had some beauty work executed to take care of “the hole” and proper another points.

Still, once I acquired that cavity this previous summer season, it triggered all these early emotions of disgrace about my enamel and by extension, about me as an individual.

The finish consequence was denial; a protection mechanism that numbs us from the reality and may trigger inaction. Ultimately, that’s what occurred to me.

By the time I went to the dentist this fall – due to excessive ache – the cavity had inflicted everlasting harm. I can nonetheless bear in mind sitting within the dentist’s chair when she confirmed me the X-Ray of my tooth – which was extraordinarily decayed and unsavable.

In that second, I felt a lot disgrace about my scenario that I couldn’t even look her within the eye. Yep, I had regressed again to my childhood and reliving the trauma from some a few years in the past.

At any fee, I used to be fitted that very same day for a “Flipper” and got here again per week later to get that nasty tooth yanked. Today, I put on this machine every time I go away the home.

Well, that’s if I bear in mind. You see there have been occasions the place I’ve forgotten to pop it in. It was simply the opposite day whereas on the health club when a really good girl requested if she may work in with me on a bit of apparatus.

I gave her an enormous smile and stated, “Of course”. Little did I do know I had forgotten to place in that flipper tooth on earlier than leaving my home.

Haha – I can nonetheless see the look on her face as she centered her eyes on my mouth.

Let me let you know – there’s nothing extra embarrassing than giving off an enormous smile and never realizing you’ve forgotten to pop in your denture.

Can I let you know a secret? Even now, once I see this woman on the health club, I type of scurry away. I can’t assist however suppose to myself, “She should suppose I’m the trashiest factor on the planet.”

I’m half kidding once I say this, however I believe you get my level.

Back to Nick and his scenario. My sense is we made numerous progress in our work collectively. He was ultimately capable of begin courting once more and commenced growing his circle of help.

In the tip nevertheless, our time collectively was minimize brief as a result of he acquired transferred to a brand new metropolis along with his firm. The excellent news is that I used to be capable of assist him get related to a brand new counselor.

I’m hoping in the long run he continued to heal.

So, there you will have it people – disgrace. It is what it’s. As I shut out this phase, I’ll go away you with this query:

Do you reside with disgrace? If so, how are you coping with it?

Parental Post-Natal Depression (PPND)

Our listener electronic mail involves us from a younger man who’s having difficulties being emotionally current to his spouse and new child son.

I’ll share with you what he wrote after which supply my ideas and reactions.

Hi John, I found your podcast a pair weeks in the past and I wished to say thanks for producing it. It may be very useful to listen to that I’m not alongside in my struggles with shallowness, amongst different issues. I’m a 28-year-old father of a 20-month-old son. Shortly after my son’s start, my spouse began to expertise postpartum melancholy. While she has since recovered, and appears to be high-quality, I really feel that our marriage has by no means absolutely healed.

I’m paralyzed with emotions of inadequacy referring to my skill to be a father to my son, which manifest most manifestly in my incapability to be Emotionally Present for my spouse and youngster.

I usually really feel that I can not muster up the phrases to carry a dialog with my youngster, one thing that others appear to so effortlessly do. I’m seeing a therapist relating to this and different points.

I can’t imagine that I’m the one one who has ever felt like this.

If you deem my downside to be worthwhile, I’d be most grateful to listen to a podcast episode together with your tackle emotional presence for fathers.



So, there’s Michael’s electronic mail. As I replicate on his observe, I can’t assist however take into consideration the variety of guys who’ve confided one thing much like me over time.

Well, right here’s my response, just about verbatim.

Hi, Michael,

First, I wish to say thanks for listening to the podcast. I’m glad to listen to among the exhibits have been useful to you, significantly Episode 9 on shallowness.  

You talked about in your electronic mail that you’ve been working with a therapist proper now in regards to the points you talked about and others. Right off the bat, let me say good on you for doing this.

I’ve stated this in different podcasts, however it’s value repeating. Some of strongest males I do know are those who hunt down steering when going by a difficult time.

Now let’s transfer on to the meat and potatoes of your observe. In studying your electronic mail, I’m conscious that every one three of the problems you talked about are interrelated. The first being the start of your son. The second being her post-partum melancholy. The third being your personal struggles with emotional presence and availability.

Right off the bat, I can share that you’re completely proper in pondering that many males undergo precisely what you described in having struggles with referring to a new child, significantly for a primary youngster.

While I can’t be certain as a result of I’m not your counselor, in some ways it feels like you’re combating a situation known as male post-partum melancholy – generally known as Parental Post-Natal Depression (PPND)

Have you heard of this earlier than? Let me guarantee you that it’s very actual and one thing that one in 4 dads battle with, in line with the Post-Partum Men web site. I’m putting a hyperlink on this response so that you could test it out.

One of the primary options of PPND is withdrawing socially, feeling insufficient and difficulties with referring to others, significantly kids.

For years, we thought post-partum melancholy effected ladies, however we now know, primarily based on medical analysis, that this situation impacts men and women alike. I’m placing a hyperlink to Web MD on this response as properly that gives extra perception.

If this can be a case of PPND, you’re most likely questioning what you are able to do about it? Well, to start with, working with a therapist as you are actually is a biggie. By having a secure place to share, you’ll be able to discharge a few of what you feel and uncover new coping methods.

There are different issues you are able to do, too. A useful one could be becoming a member of a web-based help group. There’s a extremely large one on Facebook with over 13,000 members known as “New Dad’s Place”. Here, you may share a few of your experiences with being a brand new father and be part of with others who could also be going by among the similar issues you’re.

Finally, Michael, I simply wish to say that being a dad is a studying course of. Over the years, I’ve labored with many guys who’re new dads who’ve shared, nearly verbatim, what you will have revealed in your observe to me.

The widespread bond all of them share is a fear about not being a superb father. Some of this has to do with shallowness and a few of it has to do with points associated to their very own childhood and fears of replicating previous harms.

I encourage you to go to the linked article on this observe to the web site Fatherly that mentioned this matter extra. What I’m conscious of is that this … you clearly love and care about your spouse and son deeply as a result of your electronic mail is a testomony to this truth.

Here’s what I do know. Being emotionally current can’t occur except we’re additionally emotionally susceptible. This means recognizing we aren’t supermen and that being imperfect is a component our human expertise.

In closing, I’m going to hyperlink to a ebook on Amazon by Lewis Howes known as The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability.

Michael, I’m tremendous glad that you just wrote, and I hope this response was useful to you. Keep us posted on how issues are going.

Well, there you will have it – my reply. Does being emotionally current create a problem in your life? If the reply is sure, what’s one small factor you are able to do in another way to create change?

Show Wrap Up

We coated loads in at this time’s podcast, didn’t we? We talked poisonous disgrace and the way it impacts us psychologically and bodily. We additionally talked about being emotionally current.

Shoot, we even spent a while speaking about my pretend tooth.

Let me take a second to say thanks a lot for listening at this time. You know, there are many methods to succeed in me. You can cease by my web site at or go to one in every of my social medial pages.

I’m on Facebook at Guy Counseling – and I’m additionally on Twitter and Instagram with the identical deal with.

You also can electronic mail me. Anything you ship me is confidential. If you write one thing and don’t need it shared on the podcast, simply say it goes nowhere – promise.

Finally, I’ll simply say now that I’m deeply grateful for the various opinions folks have been leaving on iTunes.

Here’s the reality – once I learn these opinions, they inspire me in methods I can’t even clarify. So, thanks for that.

Well, there you will have it – one other present. As you may most likely inform, I don’t have knowledgeable audio-engineer or somebody doing the modifying. Nope, all the things you hear – together with the imperfections – had been created by me.

Thank you a lot for being right here. Be conscious of these parental introjects. Focus in your specialness and strengths. Remember that being emotionally current means being emotionally susceptible.

Take superb care.

I’m Dr. John and this has been one other episode of the Men’s Self-Help Podcast.

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