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Do You Live With Shame?

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Baring Your Soul: Elul Workshop

Do you suffer from lack of confidence and self-esteem? Second-guessing yourself, having difficulty with decisions, unable to take a stand or make a move, especially in important matters? (You know the one: I used to think that I was indecisive. Now I’m not so sure). When faced with a crisis do you freeze, retreat or go into denial? What are the causes for this type of powerlessness? What is the secret behind self-confidence, courage and decisiveness? Is it a result of nature or nurture — innate or acquired? Are some people wired this way or can it be taught? Is it due to a lack of clarity or a lack of determination?

Among inner doubts many causes one remains shrouded in the shadows of our psyches: Shame. Unhealthy shame (opposed to the healthy sort) — like fear, its by-product — is a toxic force that is almost impossible to detect. John Bradshaw (in Healing the Shame that Binds You), himself a recovering child of an alcoholic father, explains that this type of toxic shame is caused by many things, but on top of the list are family secrets, which can go back for generations — secrets “about suicides, homicides, incest, abortions, addictions, public loss of face, financial disaster, etc. All the secrets get acted out. This is the power of toxic shame. The pain and suffering of shame generate automatic and unconscious defenses… denial, idealization of parents, repression of emotions and dissociation from emotions. What is important to note is that we can’t know what we don’t know… Because they are unconscious survival mechanisms, we lose touch with the shame, hurt and pain they cover up. We cannot heal what we cannot feel. So without recovery, our toxic shame gets carried for generations.” And to hide this deep toxic shame we create all types of complex and sophisticated smokescreens, deceptions and projections — ranging from passivity and timidness to aggression and arrogance — all to hide our shame and fear (he hides his shame and fear with his arrogance). “A person with internalized shame believes he is inherently flawed, inferior and defective. Such a feeling is so painful that defending scripts (or strategies) are developed to cover it up. These scripts are the roots of violence, criminality, war and all forms of addiction… shame can become the source of self-loathing, hatred of others, cruelty, violence, brutality, prejudice and all forms of destructive addictions. As an internalized identity, toxic shame is one of the major sources of the demonic in human life.”

Please join Rabbi Jacobson in this crucial Elul workshop exploring the inner forces of shame and fear that drives so many of our attitudes and decisions — and lack thereof. As we strip our outer defense mechanisms and their various masks, discover the inner you that preceded all your fears, allowing you to reach (in the words of Christopher Morley) “the greatest poem ever known,” the “one all poets have outgrown: The poetry, innate, untold, of being only four years old. Still young enough to be a part of Nature’s great impulsive heart, born comrade of bird, beast, and tree And unselfconscious as the bee.”

In this month we have the ability to access that core power, allowing us to transcend all our shame, and instead of investing so much energy and time running from ghosts (perceived or real) we can become the productive person we were always meant to be and live up to our true destinies.

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