Ironically, parenting is a shame and judgment minefield precisely because most of us are wading through uncertainty and self-doubt when it comes to raising our children. ~ Brené Brown
Shame can isolate you.
It can also hold you back from reaching out for help.
If your child is struggling with drugs or alcohol, Shame can quickly bubble to the surface as a parent.
You may feel that you have failed as a parent. You may want to hide your child’s issues from family and friends.
If you feel shame, you may be motivated to avoid and cover up the substance use because of your embarrassment. It may feel easier to hide the problem from others not to have to endure awkward questions. However, isolating yourself is not healthy. Decisions motivated by shame are not always the best ones.
Also, when you isolate yourself because of your child’s substance use, you are adding more stress to the situation. Instead, be a role model for your child who has already had their fill of shame because of their substance use. Shame will grow if you try and handle the problem alone.
According to Dr. Adi Jaffe, “Shame is the feeling that there’s something wrong with you. It’s not about having done something wrong (that’s guilt), no, Shame arises from the core belief that you are simply not good enough. Sadly, it’s a core belief that is common among those who struggle with addiction issues.”
Family members often struggle with shame when substance use becomes an issue. You may feel that you did something very wrong as a parent because you have a child dependent on drugs or alcohol. You see yourself as a failure and that you let your child down.
If you find yourself looking back with regrets, remember there is no training manual for dealing with a child who is struggling with substances. Remind yourself as well that this is not your fault.
Substance use can affect a diverse range of families. Married parents, as well as single parents, can have a child with an addiction issue. As you know, addiction does not discriminate.
Loving parents who have tried to do all the right things can raise a child who struggles with drugs or alcohol. On the other hand, well-adjusted kids can sometimes come from dysfunctional families. There are no easy answers.
Still, when you are overwhelmed with shame, you may think of yourself as defective, inadequate, not good enough, or not strong enough. You feel stuck with these negative feelings.
“Shame is the most disturbing experience individuals ever have about themselves; no other emotion feels more deeply disturbing because in the moment of shame the self feels wounded from within.” ~ Gershen Kaufman
According to Jane Bolton Psy.D., M.F.T., “Shame is commonly triggered by the following:
• Basic expectations or hopes frustrated or blocked
• Disappointment or perceived failure in relationships or work
• In relationships, any event that weakens the bond or indicates rejection or lack of interest from the needed other
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “What you feel, you can heal.” We have learned much about what is needed to work through and release shame. Recognition of our feeling of shame is the first step to mastering our shame reactions.”
Here are five things you can do to help yourself work through the shame when your child is struggling with substance use.
1. Accept what is
“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” ~ Nathaniel Branden
As parents, we often go into denial rather than facing the tough issues surrounding our child’s problem. But the longer you try to avoid the situation, the longer it will take for your child to receive the help they need.
Sometimes we don’t know what to do, so we hope that the problem will correct itself. Yet if you allow your child’s drug use to continue, it will most likely get worse.
Regardless of how you feel about it, accept the situation for what it is. Be prepared to face it head-on and find resources that can help. We know there are no guarantees with substance use. Even if you can’t change the situation, your acceptance will help you cope in a better way.
2. Surround yourself with people you trust
“A healthy relationship is built on unwavering trust.” ~ Beau Mirchoff
Look to trusted family and friends to be a support network for you during this time. Steer away from those people who you feel judge you. You don’t need harsh criticism in your life.
Too many parents believe that they can handle the problem themselves. They prefer to keep their troubles behind closed doors. Yet, shame can grow when you don’t reach out for help. The simple act of talking about your child’s substance use will shine a light on the problem and bring it out of the shadows.
Find people you can trust to share the problem with or find a professional that can help you.
3. Address, but don’t dwell on the past
“The point isn’t to live without any regrets, the point is to not hate ourselves for having them.” ~ Kathryn Schultz
You’ve lost the dream you had for your child. You watch the harm that addiction causes. Understandably, you are thinking about what you wish you had done differently. While it is important to acknowledge the past, please don’t dwell on it. Instead, learn from your mistakes. Use those lessons as tools for a better tomorrow. Your past does not have to shape the future.
Consider when your struggles with your child began. What was going on in their life at that time? Understanding why your child turned to drugs or alcohol can help you both find better ways to cope with stress going forward.
We all make choices in life. We are all human, so making mistakes is a normal part of the game of life.
When you can accept your flaws and move on, you’ll have a better chance of finding some peace in your life and not dwelling on what could have been.
4. Practice self-compassion
“This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.” ~ Kristin Neff
What would you tell a friend who buckles under the pressure and strain of a child’s drug use issues?When you permit yourself to let go of all the guilt, shame, and what-ifs, regrets fade away. You can focus on more helpful, positive things.
Forgive yourself for your past mistakes. Learn from them, of course, but treat yourself gently.Being able to accept and forgive yourself is key. It helps your child do the same. Practice self-compassion. You are being a role model for your child struggling with addiction.
According to Kristin Neff, Ph.D., author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, self-compassion entails three core components; self-kindness, recognition of our common humanity, and mindfulness.
Remind yourself that you are a cherished and valuable person. Your thoughts and feelings going forward will then begin to change.
5. Forgive yourself
Forgiveness is not just about the other. It’s really for the beauty of your soul. It’s for your own capacity to fulfill your life. ~ Jack Kornfield
You can learn to forgive. You can do that by developing compassion for yourself and others.
When you forgive, it allows you to let go of past wrongs. You can forgive others who you feel have wronged you. You can also forgive yourself for any missteps from the past.
Studies have shown that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold onto resentments. Forgiveness improves physical health. It leads to improved functioning of your cardiovascular and nervous systems. Anything you can do to improve your health, including forgiving yourself, is helpful.
It is an important part of the healing process. While it is important to forgive our loved ones, it is also important to forgive ourselves. When we forgive, we set ourselves free.
Finally, as we know, shame is an unfortunate part of addiction. Take steps to help yourself and your child release the shame surrounding the issue. You will both then be able to move forward to a healthier life.
This article was updated on October 9, 2021.
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By: Cathy Taughinbaugh
Title: 5 Things To Remember When You Feel Overwhelmed By Shame
Sourced From: cathytaughinbaugh.com/5-things-to-remember-when-you-feel-overwhelmed-by-shame/
Published Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2022 11:05:43 +0000
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