Shame is often unbearable. Words like humiliation, unworthy, intimidated and defeat all go with the feeling. Shameful feelings do considerable damage to one’s self worth. Shameful feelings cause us to see ourselves in a negative light.
Shame is often that inner critical voice that judges whatever we do as wrong, inferior or worthless. The voice echos what our parents, relatives, teaches and peers might have said to us growing up. These shameful feelings become internalized and we believe that the messages truly represent us. This negative inner voice begins to direct our actions and thoughts.
Additionally, shame is often at the root of marital discord. In common conversation our spouses use our shamed feelings and we feel betrayed and then feel a need to defend ourselves. We then make statements like, “You don’t love me!” or “You’re too needy!”. This results in an increase of the shame for both people. The vicious cycle of blaming one another for our own unhappiness starts.
When therapists and couples focus on each partner’s individual needs, real healing begins.
Teaching couples to hear each other with acceptance (“It’s okay that my spouse has this need”) removes the judgment pattern. This does not mean a spouse is responsible for filling, nor at fault for not filling, their partner’s need. Once the need is heard, the couple is able to come up with a solution that works for both of them.
It is important that we see we are not that different from one another. We all need to be touched, loved and accepted.