Veils of Shame in Family System – Part 2

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging. Brene Brown

In my previous post I was trying to describe a bit how the shame motive is embedded in our social and cultural relationships, and how it works invisibly (unconsciously) in us – like a push button, making us to pursue or withdraw from actions and decisions.

In the past shame was perceived as a good motivator for people to obey social rules, and children were commonly treated with shame-inflicting comments. Now, the shame motivator has been much less present in our verbal comments – it looks like it become less obvious, less accepted (at least in some social circles).

But shame is like a weed – you can cut off verbal, surfacing part of it, and still roots and hidden stems would keep propagating… Shame inevitably contaminates our relationships when we let shame buttons operate inside us. They seat in our minds (often out of consciousness) and control our lives, bringing fear and separation from ourselves and from others. photo by David Castillo Dominici

Shame is often a key in looking at difficulties in our relationships. Shame block us from seeing what is there, right before our eyes, the reality, the truth, even if other people around us can see it clearly.

How this blindness is possible? The answer is very simple: our family system teaches us indirectly what is “allowed” to see and what is not.

Parent’s anxious reaction to the child question indicates: don’t ask about it. Father’s angry tension as a response to his son lack of success in a football match “tells” the boy: I’m a disappointment to my father. Examples are countless, and all such experiences shape children’s perception of themselves and the world around. As children, we obey these (often unspoken) rules without exception.

Shame is usually the (unconscious) resistance block that keeps people away from getting solutions to their problems. In these instances the family system shame dynamic “says” in our subconscious mind – “you can’t talk about issues to others”, “they would be laughing at you”; “no one is so bad like you” etc. People often listen to this voice without questioning it, and they stay stuck in their life.

Family system shame – inherited like a gene – could stop you from acknowledging your issues and seeking support.

If that happens in your life – please ask yourself: what really, really bad could happen if I’d reach out for help?! Maybe this risk is not so big now when you’re adult, aware of your boundaries and capable of protecting yourself.

People often avoid participating in a Systemic Constellation Workshop because of their shame-induced beliefs. Once this magic veil of shame is removed, a new perspective of freedom and growth is open. Come and try it!

Hania Gorski


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