One of the ways we control our youngsters is through shame. Of course we don’t consider it controlling, we sugar-coat it as “Teaching” but it is still shame. “Do you want people thinking you are a slob?” we might tell a young one. Innocent as this little phrase might at first sound, it will last a lifetime, coming back in unexpected ways.
What shame is
At their root, all those “teaching” phrases have one goal; to get someone to do what we want. We weaponize shame too. “If you loved me you would…” is a great example of weaponizing shame. Even when we think we are being encouraging by saying “you could do more” what we are actually doing is hammering our audience over the head with words. Words are more powerful than any weapon because they remain with us throughout our lives. They rattle around in our heads, telling us in subtle ways that we are not enough. Shame is not based on who we are, what we do or our appearance, it is a manipulation tool. What it always comes down to is “You could serve me better.”
Dealing with implanted shame
However you approach letting go of shame that has been used as a weapon upon you, one thing you will have to learn; it is not about you. Chances are whatever phrase has been defining you; haunting you, whoever said it also had it said to them. Until and unless the cycle is broken that weaponized phrase will be passed along generation to generation. Once you realize there was truly nothing personal being said, you can begin to let it go. This is a healing process that can take some time, so be patient with yourself, but be certain you are not a carrier of that poison.
If you truly want to help another person be all they can be, weigh your words carefully. Own what you say. “I would really like it if you dressed better.” “Can you see yourself doing more around the house?” “I need your help here.” What a difference you can make.
My book It’s All About Me will help you identify where your hot buttons have been implanted, and defuse them before more harm is done. Click on the cover below for a sample, then order your own copy from Amazon.