Welcome...This Just Might Change Your Life!

Shame might be the most important topic we can discuss that is not discussed!
It is deep and heavy and overwhelming once you get in touch with it, so I have tried
to break it down into smaller chunks to grasp. It might be the best investment of time you've made to yourself! 

Good Overview on Shame
Curt Thompson does a good job to demonstrate how shame is embedded within.  This is why unless it is recognized, it is forgotten.  Shame hides!  Once we realize how shame works, we can then understand why it is so elusive and misunderstood.  Christian POV, but if you do not come from this background, that's OK...he is not what you expect!  Eat the melon, spit out the seeds...his analysis of shame is excellent.

Check HERE for the video.

When You Get Too Close, It's Time for Me to Go!
The life of Garry Shandling fits the shame paradigm well.  If you have read this site, you know that shame can stem from a traumatic experience.  Garry's family had the same dynamics of imbalance all families have, but there was the death of his brother that had a tremendous impact on his life.

Shandling's family moved to Tucson when he was young because his older brother, Barry, had cystic fibrosis. The two boys were close, but Barry died at 13; Garry's mother, trying to protect her younger son, didn't tell him and didn't allow Garry to go to the funeral.

She also became smothering, something Shandling would later work into his comedy act. As with most great comics, pain informs the humor.  See below of my thoughts on Johnny Carson who had a big impact on Garry, Carson a man who also had a difficult relationship with his mother in the exact opposite way.  

If you're a fan of The Larry Sander's Show you will remember an epsidoe when his dad visits to get away from his wife, Larry's mother.  His father portrayed is much like Johnny Carson's mother-the parent who despite the child's success in life, can never do enough and complains.  Larry's dad in this episode didn't even wait to say goodbye after sitting in the audience of his famous son's talk show, he just left to catch his flight.  Imagine being famous to millions and invisible to your own parent!  

Haunted by the death of his brother, confounded by the smothering affections of his mother, Shandling had serious trust issues. Garry's long-time girlfriend said they broke up because Garry didn't want to have children for fear the child would be born with cystic fibrosis. The death of his brother plagued Garry and it seemed there was not proper grieving (he was not allowed to attended his funeral) so his life was spent grieving this loss.  Self-doubt was a constant theme in his life. At first, work is nearly his sole focus. But soon this gives way to trying to find happiness, real happiness. Many of the people interviewed call Shandling “spiritual.” Some describe him as almost monk-like. Here was a man successful by almost any standards who struggled to feel good about himself.  

After watching the Zen Diaries, the one thing that struck me is shame's power to bury emotions that really matter.  The death of Garry's brother was buried so deep within that it was the rudder that controlled the ship.  One of the things many people struggle with later on in life is healing the rudder.  If I heal the rudder, what will drive me, what will steer the ship?  This is what happens when shame becomes so deeply embedded as part of our identity.  The real battle with shame is being able to share it, to bring it to light and let its power dissolve so we can discover the authentic self rather than dance around the fire of its power.  More on Garry Shandling HERE.  

See the Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling on HBO.

Deadliest Catch Wild Bill
Any fan of the TV show, Deadliest Catch has seen the episodes where Wild Bill's son Zack Larsen (kept his mother's maiden name) joins his crew to reunite and develop a long lost relationship with his father.  It is tough to watch!

The shame paradigm passed from one generation to the next is clearly evident here it unpacks itself right before our eyes.  Wild Bill's father saw his son as worthless, who would never amount to being a leader, so he set out to prove him wrong.
At age five, he divorced his wife, and Zack grew up without a father.  Like any young man, Zack wanted to find part of himself by knowing his father so he joined him years later on Bill's ship.  The show literally displays for all to see Bill passing his shame to his son.  Zack wanted a relationship and his father over-compensated for lost time.  Years later they meet in the wheelhouse for a scared talk and Zack tells Wild Bill he cannot work with him.  Bill totally missed the point because he could not be vulnerable.  He never dealt with the pain of his own father with the energy to "prove him wrong" and therefore could not express these emotions to his son.  All Zack wanted was his father's love after feeling abandoned and put himself through hell on the boat for a few seasons to find it.  That is how far a son will go to connect with his father!  

Wild Bill reacts like many fathers do, "My dad was tough on me, so I was tough on my son...I turned out OK, so I hope he does."  Despite other men telling Bill he was too hard on his son, shaming him in front of the other crew members, he could not hear it.  Wild Bill's brother who watches the show commented, "Bill is doing exactly what our dad did to us, why is Zack still on the boat?"

This is classic shame..."My dad hurt me, therefore, I can hurt my own son!"  He is passing his shame onto the next generation flawlessly.  Maybe Zack will break the mold.  A son either becomes just like his father or rebels and turns the other way.  Wild Bill cannot face how much pain he has given to his son because he has never dealt with his pain.  When you watch the episodes with Bill and Zack, you are literally seeing Bill's suppressed anger towards his own father transferred to his son Zack!  Wild Bill sees this as love.  It isn't love, it is shame and why shame needs to be addressed to stop the multi-generational pattern.

Wild Bill Blaming Others (click to view video)
It takes another captain to confront Bill on dozing off at the wheel.  Note the other captains cower in confronting Bill and the energy of his son Zack trying to protect his father.  This again is shame at work.  Not until Bill is cornered does he finally admit he was wrong.

Bill & Zack Onboard Ship (click to view video)
Here we see Bill confront Zack in front of the other crew.  How many sons can relate to this?  The pressure of wanting to please your father and your father pressing too hard on his son.  Bill is embarrassed his son does not perform well and demands utter respect.  Zack's hurt comes out and Bill reacts.  Zack is angry his father abandoned him and came on board to deal with this broken relationship, Bill never connects those dots.  Bill expects Zack to do what he did, become a great fisherman, to be just like him!

Deputy Otis
This is a great episode from The Andy Griffith Show on shame and family roles.  This is a powerful episode of shame between siblings, the root of addictions, and how it impacts others.  Otis, the black sheep in the family tries to impress his brother visiting Mayberry.  It is very heart-felt and real.  Otis using the Sheriff's stationary to write his brother a letter to feel empowered, respected, admired is a human motive we all relate to, but in this episode we look a little deeper about what motives him, we examine the WHY.

See the analysis HERE and watch the episode.


Shame and the Blame Game!
I have stayed on top of the Parkland shooting tragedy, especially with Sheriff Israel.  I have documented the play-by-play and anyone that reads this and looks through the lens of shame, all the lights come on.  The problem is so few understand shame!  The entire focus of this site.

When we unpack the typical headline, "All the warning signs were there!" the reaction after is always blame and fall guy.  This is what happens in any dysfunction "family"--blame, run, find a fall guy and move on.

Analyzing the Broward Country Sheriff's department would reveal ways for others organizations to develop awareness BEFORE a tragedy occurs!  In the end, it does all start at the top.  When someone in a position of leadership has shame issues, they cannot not be themselves, so they will never see their shame patterns and how this impacts those beneath them.  This is NO different than dysfunctional parents.

If we want to honor those who lost their lives at the hand of a murderer, we must develop new standards for hiring leaders.  We must hire people that have a low shame profile allowing them to have the humility to seek balance.  This means a balanced masculine and feminine leadership.  Shame causes imbalance in the masculine and feminine in over-compensation.

If you have a Sheriff that is proving his masculinity by being tough, firm, macho there will be imbalance and a message to those under him to govern in ways that overlook.  A Sheriff's department can function like a family for years until something breaks.  There are always signs along the way, but overlooked.  They are overlooked because of dysfunction.  Someone who is over-compensating sees solution as weakness.  This is why we need masculine and feminine energy in leadership to develop proper balance!

Understanding shame will open the doors and shine the light to balanced leadership that will take action towards warning signs rather than deny they exist.

A Shooter and Shame
Finding the shame story in someone who takes an AR-15 into a high school is both obvious and challenging.  There is no doubt this shooter was crippled with shame, that is what shame does!  The risk is focusing on shame resulting in a reaction that he is not responsible and blaming the shame for his actions.  This is one reason the shame story usually is never dealt with.  These stories are too emotional.  Yet, because they keep happening in our culture, the conversation of “mental health” is attached…somewhere.  
I will not go into depth here, but point out that the overall story of this shooter is what I will call a classic shame story.  Interviewing the couple that took this person into their home communicated classic shame behaviors, one of which was him saying, “I’m sorry” over and over.  The main reason I make this post was how this interview ended.  It ended like most stories crippled with shame, “I just don’t know why?”  For those who take the time to read this site, your depth of understanding will give you a strong sense of "why"!  Finding a solution is another conversation, but unless we develop a strong sense of "why" we never face reality fully...and it seems this is still where we are in our culture even after over 25 shootings since Columbine!  ...I just don't know WHY!

Shame and Your Family Role
Addiction and shame go together like fish and water!  Do yourself a favor and read the following article.  This is NOT about judging your family, this is about understanding your role and the role of others in your family and getting educated.

Identity is what shame robs from our lives!  When our family role was already jaded (there are NO perfectly healthy families) we allow this role to guide our lives, usually seeking a career or a mate to balance this role in our lives.

We all seek balance!

Families establish there roles unconsciously to develop balance where there is a lack of balance.  Very logical.  If you are falling (loss of balance) you try to grab hold of something before you fall.  How basic is that?  We do the same psychologically in our families as well.

Here are just a few of the family roles we take on, like actors, to find our place.  We then take on similar roles in public.  High school reveals a lot of the roles we developed to fit in.  Sometimes we overcompensate and go the other way (at home the enabler and in public the hero).  What was your role?

The Enabler

The Hero

The Scapegoat

The Lost Child

The Mascot

click here to read more: Shame and Your Family Role

The Harvey Weinstein story!  For those who take shame seriously, this story is obvious.  Sadly, too many do NOT take shame seriously and will not look deeper into the toxic power of shame.  Here is a quote from one of Weinstein's victims.  Shame is ALL OVER this account;
“At that point, after that, is when he assaulted me,” Evans said. “He forced me to perform oral sex on him.” As she objected, Weinstein took his penis out of his pants and pulled her head down onto it. “I said, over and over, ‘I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t,’ ” she said. “I tried to get away, but maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t want to kick him or fight him.” In the end, she said, “He’s a big guy. He overpowered me.” At a certain point, she said, “I just sort of gave up. That’s the most horrible part of it, and that’s why he’s been able to do this for so long to so many women: people give up, and then they feel like it’s their fault.

I think is very important to share the following.  Because our culture is SO uneducated about the reactions of abuse, we need to shed light to answer reactive questions like, "Why did these women wait so long to come forward?"  "Why did that woman laugh after that men touched her?"  "Why did that woman stay in the room knowing that man was abusive?"

These reactions only shame the victim more!!!  It gets worse...these might be coming from friends and family, people a victim looks to for comfort, and dare I say a professional counselor who is ignorant.  Talk about devastating!  This is what I refer to by getting slammed by both ends.  Then we wonder why that person's life unravels and addictions take over.  It is time to get educated.  This will help;

Some common reactions to sexual assault

Feelings after sexual assault

Common victim behaviors of survivors of sexual abuse

Folks...that is the power of shame!  Shame is so toxic and powerful that it is a subject that cannot be grasped, like trying to grab water from a stream.  If you read the comments from this article you will get depressed.  This is why shame is so hard to grab hold of.  Shame hits from both ends.  This woman ALREADY carried a lot of shame inside of her which is why she allowed this to occur.  It is a very confusing emotion.  We need to be educated on shame...so keep reading and working through your own story.  It is hard to do which is why we need a shame recovery group of some kind. If you read the entire article (click above) you will see the devastating consequences of this one action and the shame language over and over.  I do believe we are in a new culture regarding shame.  Woman in this case above have had enough!  Ironically, President Trump might have been the best thing to America to bring this to light because women are collectively MAD!  This past year has been a coming out party for men abusing power towards women.  The light is breaking through the darkness.  I argue the BEST way to fight is to know your story of shame and empower from WITHIN!  It is the road least taken, but the most powerful.  It is time to STOP BEING NAIVE!

* Since I created this site, the reaction has been consistent by many.  They simply will not go here.  Despite the overwhelming evidence, many will not deal with their shame story.  It is the road LEAST taken.  What is the result?  Significant.  Wonder why toxic patterns happen generation after generation?  This is why!  

* Shame and family roles go hand-in-hand.   As long as you are in the role of being in control, you most likely will not deal with shame issues.  Very few people are interested in the truth unless it is impacts their lives!  This is why shame is similar to a force field of energy like going through a rabbit hole back in time, when you start to reverse the nature of things, there is a strong push-back.  The "golden child" of a family will push back against the "scapegoat" when the scapegoat stands up for themselves.  Guaranteed this is the natural flow of things and the family imbalance starts at the top!  Because the marriage roles are imbalanced, the children roles are imbalanced, and thus we have what we call "family"...but there is always a scapegoat that gets dumped on, usually the more sensitive, vulnerable child which is probably why YOU are here! 

I just read several books on Johnny Carson host of The Tonight Show.  Another classic study on shame.  By all reports, Carson’s mother was never impressed by him and showed him no affection. “Ruth Carson soured her son to the point where it was damn near impossible for him to be happy with any woman for any extended period of time — or with people in general, for that matter.”

Carson never stopped trying to please her. As a great success in Hollywood he invited his parents to a star-filled party and later asked how she’d liked it. “I guess parties are the same all over the country,” she answered. He sent his parents on a round-the-world cruise, equipping them with credit cards to buy anything they wanted. “I’m glad to be home,” was all Ruth said when she returned. When he sent her a mink coat she sent it back: “Too fancy for Nebraska.” Carson claimed that she had no heart at all. “My mother made sure of that.” When she died he said, “The wicked witch is dead.” He didn’t go to her funeral.

The woman who controlled him through childhood and adolescence somehow extended her influence over the remaining half a century of his life. Free will didn’t enter into it. He couldn’t stop being a jerk, a tyrant, an evil drunk and a train wreck of a husband. Or perhaps Ruth was an excuse for whatever he felt like doing. (What made Ruth the way she was is never explored or mentioned), yet, in studying shame the pattern is clear: she passed her shame to the next generation!  This is the tragic result of avoiding one's shame story:  IT DOES NOT MAGICALLY GO AWAY and the impetus for this site: We need to unpack our shame story for freedom not just for our own lives, but for the lives of others we love and share life with.
The man who millions loved died alone!  This is the tragic story of multi-generational shame!


Watch Mr. RobotAnother classic tale of how intense loneliness, inability to connect with others, and addiction all has its root in toxic shame.  This show has some amazing therapeutic insights between Elliot and his therapistShame and loneliness go hand in hand.  Toxic loneliness is a killer when you can't be alone and can't be with people. 

Better Call Saul is another great example of how shame impacts siblings.  Season 2, episode 7 is a great example of going back in time to see the roots of shame.  In the opening scene of this episode we see young Jimmy witnessing once again his naive father give money to another "grifter" seeking cash handouts with a hard luck story.  Jimmy, around age 10, witnesses this and warns his father.  It is here we see Jimmy acting like the adult and feeling the shame of his father being naive about those taking advantage of him.
Go HERE for the screenshots brilliantly acted with commentary.
I just made a video clip of this powerful scene HERE

Great movie that has an undertone of three brothers all moving in different directions.  One is a "fixer"--out of box attorney with a gambling addiction, the other a NY Cop and the other an addict.  This fits the shame paradigm of siblings all coming from the same root moving in different directions with one, usually the more sensitive sibling being seen as the "weaker one" who is an addictShame and addiction go hand-in-hand!

There is a pivotal scene where Michael (George Clooney)  pulls over driving with his young son after seeing his younger brother who is an addict in recovery struggling.  He tells the next generation (his son) that he will never be like his brother, he is stronger as a boy than his brother was on his best day!  Yet, his fear about his son reflects his own fear, that he is himself a man whose life is out of control--divorced, in debt, failed attempt at a restaurant business and clinging to his job as a "fixer" wanting to get out.  Great illustration of multi-generational shame patterns.

Two's A Crowd!  This might be the most powerful dramatic performance found on a comedy show--All in the Family had tremendous depth for a comedy!  Here we see Archie deal with his childhood and relationship with his abusive father and how difficult even in the face of all the abusive evidence for Archie to face the truth.  He is drunk.  It takes being drunk to unpack deeper emotions for some.  He lets his guard down.  In short, Archie gets VULNERABLE!  Vulnerability is the key to understanding when dealing with shame, and it usually comes fast and quick before we cover it back up.   
Click HERE to view analysis of this scene.

Everybody Loves Raymond is another comedy that has an episode that is powerful.  It is titled, "Boy's Therapy" and starts off with humor, but gets very deep when father and sons sit at a race track trying to fool their wives about skipping therapy and end up opening wounds unintentionally.  If you are a fan of this show, it demonstrates how difficult direct communication is within family and how a father can listen and hear in a different context.  This episode demonstrates well the idea of shadow, shame, guilt and the healing process of looking inward when family members can put aside defensive posturing.  It also brilliantly shows how a father can carry a shadow his entire life resulting in shame that impacts the next generation (his sons) and how the scapegoat (Robert) is the one who gets the ball rolling to deal with reality within the family in a rare moment of vulnerability
The pivotal scene starts at 10:39 (note how the energy shifts immediately, there is a long pause and it is here that the truth is found, and then the natural desire is to run rather than sit in this truth for deeper healing):  Click HERE to view.

Another powerful episode dealing with shame memories transferred to the next generation, in the case Ray's son Geoffrey.  In this episode titled, It's Supposed to Be Fun,  the family watches Geoffrey play basketball who is not very good.  Ray cracks jokes while he is on the court causing those around him to feel uncomfortable, leading the coach to speak with him after the game.  
What makes this episode so powerful is how common a father can transfer his shame to his own son because of the embarrassment over his son's performance abilities in public.  Ray's wife Debra discusses what took place at home and Ray deflects his behavior by sharing how his own dad made similar jokes when he was a boy.  He then says it was no big deal until Debra points how many times he has told those stories and how he is still holding on to those memories.  That is when the light came on!  
Ray's energy shifts dramatically as he realizes he was hurt by what his dad said and because showing hurt was not acceptable in his home, he tucked it away.  Ray seeing his son play basketball triggered these memories and the shame he still carries from his dad's comments.  The tragedy here is that Geoffrey, played by Sawyer Sweeten, committed suicide at age 19 for personal reasons (see story details)

This is the mother load of shame movies!  The Unsaid is the movie you probably never saw that need to seen.  It is a hard watch for those suffering from toxic shame or abuse issues.  I give Andy Garcia and whomever got this project green lighted tremendous thanks!  The title says it all, The Unsaid...do not talk about the deep shame you carry inside!

This movie is a template for transforming discussion if those who have the skills to heal lead the group.  We do not discuss this type of content because we do not know where to go, what to do, how to cope with it...so we tuck it away, better said, we run from it!  It is no wonder this movie came and went quickly in the theaters and few know about it.  It is extremely powerful!  It is also tragic because this is real life and one can only feel tremendous empathy and compassion for this boy.  

The actor brilliantly portrays the behaviors of someone abused but society only sees the outside life, the external behavior and then judges him for his wrong doings.  We must develop more awareness of the signs of trauma and abuse, and as important, have community support groups because even if one is understanding, then what?

Our culture has one solution: Go to a counselor or therapist.  We need more options than that!  Those living in a larger city have options (IF they have good medical coverage), but those in smaller cities and towns usually do not!  No wonder drug use in smaller communities is so high.  Makes sense because people will try to medicate pain.

 Another little movie many have not seen, but extremely powerful in a different way than The UnsaidEverything is Illuminated is a fun movie with a powerful punch if you are willing to embrace it.  Actually, it is impossible to not embrace the shame punch because they do a fabulous job at portraying the shame-guilt a man carries after what he did in war.  

What is so effective with this movie is how the intense shame scene is built and developed.  By the time we get to "that" scene in the movie, we have embraced the character and then the light goes on.  NOW...I get why this little old man is the way he is, what he is carrying inside, and how unbelievably difficult life has been for him.  Great movie!

Warrior is another amazing movie that depicts the dysfunctional family roles due to shame and addiction.  This is a must see film!  I could discuss this movie about so many shame dynamics, but the gift of this movie is the intensely powerful hotel scene.

This scene shows how powerful shame is in stamping roles and identities.  Tommy, the younger brother cannot accept his father being sober.  He grew up with an angry father, a man of rage and abuse.  To see his father as kind and nice is seen and felt as weakness to him.  The roles are reversed when the father is sober.  Tommy becomes abusive.  It is not until his father drinks again and goes into a rage that Tommy submits and goes to the familiar role of comforting his father.  Shame is not logical or rational!  If people understood what is happening in this scene, our entire conversation about addiction and shame would radically move towards a deeper understanding.  It is very difficult to communicate this scene in words.  Watch it HERE.  

I have inserted this video because it  illustrates what this site is all about.  Note how many times he uses the word SHAME in his presentation.  If you read this site, his presentation will come alive because shame breaks the early bond of "We" before becoming "I" in the family.  He does not directly tie in shame and if he fully understood shame, I have no doubt he would see the connection of shame and addiction.  When he speaks of bonding and community, just think of family and the consequences of a shame-based family.  Click HERE to view!

I make a few assumptions about life:
1. We all desire unconditional love
2. We all never fully experienced unconditional love (not even close for most of us)
3. We all have deep levels of shame we carry inside.
4. Shame keeps us from intimacy, from giving and receiving the love we desire.
5. We all have questions about God.
6. We all have a part of us that feels unmanageable.
7. We all have chased something to feel whole.
8. If we are really honest, we all have some kind of addiction or addictive behaviors.
9. We all have thoughts and feelings that are troubling to us.
10. We all deny, rationalize, blame, or find another way to deal with our struggles.

Welcome to being HUMAN!  When we try to avoid the above it results in
fragmentation, distance, and separation from what we all long for: INTIMACY

A list of disorders most likely fueled by shame:
--sleep disorders
--chronic fatigue syndrome
--controlling behavior
--money and finance
--violence/criminal behavior
--personality disorders
borderline personality
narcissistic personality
paranoid personality
grandiosity personality
sexual addictions/sexual abuse/pornography
alcohol addictions
drug addictions
work addictions
food addictions
--perfectionism, anorexia, BDD
--cognitive dissonance
all or nothing thinking
mental filter (obsessing on the negative and missing the positive)
jumping to conclusions
magnification or minimization
emotional reasoning
should statements
labeling (made a mistake and “I am a jerk”)
personalization and blame