Perceived guilt and shame come from something you think you did wrong but you really didn’t. A classic example is the child who believes she is the reason her parents got divorced. She feels guilty about breaking up her family. She begins to see herself as a bad person who broke up her parents marriage. She carries this belief into adulthood. She is afraid to get close to people because she thinks she hurts people. She lives life without deep close connections, on the fringes, and never feels internal peace.
Reality is that she didn’t break up her parents marriage. They chose to end their marriage. One or both of her parents may have told her it was her fault but a child doesn’t break up a marriage. A child can add to the disharmony or frustration in a family but the child didn’t force the parents to divorce. Anyone who uses that excuse in any circumstance isn’t owning their behavior they are choosing to use blame to ease their own conscience. Running through my head right now are people who say things like, “She was dressed so provocatively, she was asking for it” or “It’s because you made me so mad that you got hurt” or “If you weren’t so slow then I wouldn’t be in such a bad mood.”
Some people have thoughts about doing something they know is wrong. From simply thinking about it, which is something all of us do, some people turn that into shame, “I am a bad person.” Truth is, you’re a person. A bad person? No!
Finding freedom from shame is challenging. I’ll save that for Part 5 🙂