Common sense might say that if we just do the opposite of the shaming we witnessed in childhood it will produce a healthy life, marriage, children, and family. The flaw in this reasoning is that, without of a person’s heart being regenerated through Christ, the opposite of shame-based is not self-worth, but rather pretentiousness and a façade created to cover up our internal toxic shame. Although it may not look as outwardly unhealthy as what was experienced in childhood, it still derives its motivations from the very same shame messages.
The Equal and Opposite Principle ©
Sir Isaac Newton’s third law states:
For every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction. In every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The magnitude of the forces on the first object equals the magnitude of the force on the second object, and the direction of the force on the first object is opposite to the direction of the force on the second object. Forces always come in pairs – equal and opposite action-reaction (cause-effect) pairs.
Through counseling thousands of clients across many years, I began to notice a very predictable trend: Deeply soul-wounded people unconsciously were compelled to create a world around themselves that was internally similar yet externally 180 degrees opposite to the painful experiences of their childhood.
This brought me back to the principle I learned in Physics 101 way back in the 1980s – equal and opposite. I feel certain that Newton had no intensions of his discovery of the Third Law of Motion applying to the non-physical world. I feel strongly that it does!
In the diagram, consider the horizontal line as the “shame” line. The center point reflects the virtues an individual develops as they grow closer and closer to Jesus – theoretically the place of no toxic shame. No doubt this ideal is unachievable while we’re on this earth. Nonetheless, God calls His children to actively pursue these qualities in growing measure through the process of sanctification and being transformed into the very nature of Jesus.
- Reality based on truth
- Sufficiency in God’s grace
- Revealing of true self
- Faith and trust
- Dependence on Jesus
- Surrendered will
The Childhood Shame side of the diagram helps us visually consider the effects progressively more or less shame have on us. In equal yet opposite proportion, we can visualize on the Adulthood Façade side of the diagram the manifestations in adulthood of greater or lesser shame in our childhood. Obviously, none of us were raised in the perfect family, as it certainly doesn’t exist. But we can see clearly how the more closely our family of origin is to the healthy ideal God intended, the more authentic and whole the individual becomes in adulthood. This diagram provides a few representative examples so you may need to insert the equal and opposite realities that make this illustration applicable to your individual story.
- Internalized shame
- Loss of true self
- Fear and insecurity
As we trace the arched line from left to right, we can see traits of the pretentious outward “façade” on the right that correlate with each specific soul wound on the left.
- Internalized shame from childhood unknowing leads us to compulsivity, addictiveness, and black/white thinking as adults. We lack the healthy shame needed to function within our finiteness as human beings.
- Rejection during childhood causes us to overcompensate in an effort to prove to others (and sometimes ourselves) that we’re enough, based upon an arbitrary measurement relative to an arbitrary standard of perfection.
- Loss of our true self, a subconscious response to our childhood – believing we’re flawed or unacceptable – leads to being known only by our “acceptable” false self as an adult.
- We protect our fears and insecurities resultant from life in our childhood family by expressing anger and control over anything or anyone in our adult life that might threaten our need to always feel safe and secure.
- In response to any form of abandonment we faced in childhood, we become identity dependent and people-pleasing in our meaningful adult relationships.
- Powerlessness, the belief that we were weak, invisible, or not heard as a child, provides the motivational energy for relentless drivenness in our adult endeavors.
Shame Does Not Have to Be Passed Down
Just because we learn something doesn’t mean we are obligated to live it or to teach it. Just because our parents did not create an environment during our childhood where our soul needs could be consistently met, does not obligate us to duplicate the same patterns into our home, marriage, family, and children.
For the pattern to change, for the shaming to stop, for the generational “curse” to end, we must make some radical adjustments to our lives.
- Turn from toxic people, places, and things.
- Uncover the lies and false beliefs of our past.
- Rediscover our true identity in Jesus Christ.
- Nurture lasting hope in others.
Later, we’ll explore the twelve Bible-based principles that are essential in shifting your family tree from generations of sin, shame, and brokenness to a lasting legacy of faith, love, and grace.
Soul health and spiritual maturity cannot be separated. Our counselors are ordained Christian ministers as well as certified and licensed Christian counselors. We are able to help you experience freedom from shame, anxiety, depression, or marriage / relationship conflict with methods that are purely Christ-centered. Please click on this link to learn much more about how our MARRIAGE COUNSELING can help you become a more authentic follower of Christ, and help you find freedom from identity dependence.
Life Training offers convenient sessions at our office in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as online counseling via Zoom or FaceTime. Our non-profit counseling practice has an outstanding track record for over a decade helping men and women, individuals and couples who are ready to move beyond anxiety, depression, and conflicts in marriage or other relationships find hope and healing in their lives. Contact us today at 502-717-5433, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org