If you are experiencing excessive feelings of either guilt, blame or shame, or a combination of any of these, then I can help you to find lasting resolution to them. I use a powerful form of psychotherapy for guilt, blame and shame called Inner Child Therapy, more specifically Parks Inner Child Therapy (or PICT for short). PICT was developed and founded by Penny Parks, a leading figure in the field of therapy for abuse and trauma. If you would like to know more about Penny Parks, visit her on YouTube or read her articles on the Huffington Post. For more information on PICT itself, read more about What I Do.
Damon Dwyer – your Parks Inner Child Therapist for Oxfordshire
If you find yourself asking, “is there a Parks Inner Child Therapist near me?” Then the answer is yes, absolutely. As a fully qualified and Recognised PICT Practitioner based in Oxford, I am best placed to help you with any problems relating to guilt, blame and shame, as well as abuse and trauma. So read on to find out more, or get in touch to book your free, 30-minute therapy consultation.
Some guilt is a good thing: frequent guilt is not
If you have the occasional and brief feeling of guilt around doing something wrong then this is actually a good thing. It is your conscience guiding you through situations to ‘protect’ you as a survival mechanism.
For instance, your conscience reminds you that repeatedly damaging other people’s property is wrong and will quickly lose you friends. So, at a lower frequency, and at a lower intensity, this level of guilt is perfectly natural and harmless. It is the moral compass you have learned, often very early in life, to make it safely through the society in which we live. This ‘healthy guilt’ is also resolved quite easily; with healthy guilt you’ve done something wrong and you can put things right again. It isn’t about you.
However, if you have a frequent guilt; a chronic, overwhelming version that occurs whenever something ‘bad’ happens – and is accompanied by shame, then this is unhealthy and unnatural. And this is something I can help you with.
Shame is at the root of the problem
Chronic feelings of blame and guilt are caused by shame – the underlying root of the problem.
Some people – let’s call them: ‘Person A‘ – experience shame, blame or guilt in small measures, only in certain conditions.
Others: ‘Person B’ – wear their shame and guilt openly, unable to get through a single day without these uncomfortable feelings being triggered. These emotions can feel so ingrained, that you get to feeling that it is just you; and you start to believe, “that’s just how I am.” The difference between the two types of people is the amount of shame passed onto them by their parents (or significant carers) when they were children. If you feel like Person B, I can tell you that this is not how it has to be for the rest of your life, it is never too late, and you can reclaim who you really are meant to be, using my clinical psychotherapy service.
How shame starts
Unhealthy, toxic shame is the product of either abuse or simply poor parenting in the past. It could be sexual, physical or emotional abuse, or any combination of these. Abuse is an overused word, especially in the media, and many of us might not call some of the things that happened to us in our childhood ‘abuse’; but poor parenting qualifies as a form of emotional abuse. You must remember, poor parenting may have been intentional or unintentional. Parenting is the hardest job in the world and not all parents set out to be self-gratifying abusers. Some parents keep us safe and in many cases, get most things right, but still make fundamental mistakes which have huge consequences when we reach adulthood. However, it is now commonly accepted by leading psychologists that the origins of internalised shame are from our parent’s transference of shame onto us, in an unconscious attempt to avoid owning it themselves.
Sadly, our parent’s shame also came from their parents, because shame is a multi-generational thing. It can be passed on inside families for several generations. There could be five generations of alcoholism; four generations of sexual abuse; three generations of absent fathers. This is because people who have toxic shame go into hiding; they never want people outside the family to find out what they feel is the ‘truth’ about them; that being they are flawed and cannot measure up. So instead, the shame stays hidden inside the family, like a secret, passed on from one generation to the next.
Shame resides in us in the form of ‘mistaken’ beliefs
From the moment we are born, we start to make meaning of the world about us. We store memories, learn lessons and above all, we take on beliefs. Specifically, beliefs about ourselves, other people and the world about us. These beliefs are the building blocks of our identity and self-confidence. Some of these beliefs can be positive and affirming, such as “I’m good at running,” and others can be shame-based, such as: “I’m not good enough.” We get most of our beliefs from our parents – and this is how their shame is transferred to us. We take on their shame-based beliefs as ours, communicated to us either verbally, or just through their body language.
Screaming and yelling at children violates their sense of value. Parents who call their children “stupid”, “idiot”, “lazy”; “silly”, “pathetic”, “crazy” wound them with every word. The resulting mistaken beliefs for the children will include things like: “ I’m stupid” or “I’m crazy.”
Emotional abuse also comes in the form of strictness, perfectionism and control. Perfectionism produces a deep sense of toxic shame; a sense of: “I’m not good enough.” No matter what you do, you never measure up. All shame-based families use perfectionism, control and blame as manipulating tools. You shouldn’t feel what you feel, your ideas are mad, your desires are stupid. You are continuously found to be flawed and defective; just plain ‘bad.’
Neglect is also emotional abuse. For example, ‘unavailable’ parents are a huge issue in our culture. When a child cannot get the unconditional love and acceptance he or she needs back from their parent; or when the parents are too busy to spend time with the child; or when time-poor, tired parents lose control and shout verbal abuse at the child, then that child is left with the deepest wound imaginable – that of inherited shame; of not being loved for who they are; of not being valued as truly precious, above all else. Their sense of uniqueness; their ‘I AM-ness’, is not granted. This feeling of being flawed, diminished and never quite measuring up; of feeling “I’m not good enough” is so much worse than guilt. With guilt, you’ve done something wrong; but you can repair it. With shame there’s something wrong with you and there’s nothing you can do about it; you are inadequate and defective.
Imagine what goes through a child’s mind, when someone they trust and think is their ‘buddy’ suddenly hits them; or smacks them; or yanks them by the ear; or pulls down their underwear and hits them with a belt; or throws them to the floor? What is that child supposed to think or feel? The sense of violation and emotional eruption is tremendously traumatic. I have not yet found any research to prove that smacking teaches a child anything other than: when you are angry, it is OK to hit other people. Discipline (disciplina is the Latin word for to teach) has lost its way in dysfunctional families. This occurs often where the parents, who have themselves been physically and emotionally abused as children, possess very low emotional control. They ‘lose it’ and the child feels the shame of not mattering, or at least ‘mattering’ only in a perverse way as a punchbag.
Sexual abuse causes shame more intensely than any other kind of violation. There are so many forms of sexual abuse and we only see the tip of the iceberg with the stories about penetrative sexual abuse that are in the media. Sexual abuse is a child being used for an adult’s sexual pleasure. As adults, when we know we are being used, we get furious. Children cannot know they are being used. When we are sexually abused, we feel we’re not lovable as we are, and we become anti-sexual or super-sexual in order to feel like we matter. Remember, for the sexual abuse to take place, emotional abuse has to exist first, to ensure everything is kept hidden. In this atmosphere, intense shame takes root and feelings of blame within the child are encouraged by the abuser, to make sure that no one ever finds out. That’s why many abusers maintain the cover story of: “she wanted it” or “he kept coming back for more” – transferring the blame to the child.
The therapy I employ is specifically developed to treat survivors of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. We don’t need to open Pandora’s box but you have to do the work. However, the result is worth it, as it gives you full resolution, not just coping skills; and we remove your shame, blame and guilt.
For many people, feelings of strong, internalised blame often occur as a result of thinking that, as a child, they were in a position to tell someone about the abuses that they may have been experiencing, but because they were afraid, they didn’t. So, instead of speaking up they blamed themselves; they internalised everything as being their fault, not someone else’s. Perhaps they thought they were betraying their family, or their parents; possibly the sheer terror of ‘losing’ their protectors, however abusive, was too much to bear. Perhaps, they risked another beating for telling the secret, so, wisely, they kept quiet and suffered the blame instead.
Poor parenting also creates strong feelings of blame, either directly via verbalised anger: “look what you’ve done now!” or sarcasm: “why am I not surprised that you’re the last one?” But also poor parenting creates blame invisibly from body language – like the rolling eyes of a disappointed mother or the father who clearly prefers spending time with your sibling instead of you. This is because, at an unconscious level, you were chosen as the family scapegoat to heap all the family shame and blame onto. And it doesn’t need to be one or two extremely traumatic, acute events either. A seemingly mundane childhood of constant blame, as ordinary as brushing your teeth, is often the worst kind of blame to shake off because it now feels like a way of life that you are to blame. No one else, just you.
Outside of the family, our culture has its own system of perfection that causes shame too.
We find out at school that we need to compete for the best grades in order to be considered acceptable or worthy. Non-sporty kids are shamed at break times and during P.E. or games – giving them lifelong scars. Weeping at school is specifically shamed, especially for boys; and so we learn from teachers and peers that feelings are not to be aired or trusted. Children also realise early in life that there are real economic and social differences between themselves and their friends too. They become acutely aware of their financial status through fashion, cars, brands and neighbourhoods. The peer pressure becomes worse as the years go by. The message is: The way you are is not OK. You must be the way we want you to be.
Removing the toxic shame, blame and guilt – what can I do?
Be brave and come forward. The first step in releasing you from the shame is to open up to it. We need to work together to find and replace your shame-based, mistaken beliefs with new, positive beliefs. We also need for you to reclaim your ‘Inner Child’ who is stuck back there in the past, when the original trauma first took place. We can do so compassionately, without the need for excessive ‘digging around’ and traumatic re-living of past events. It is a process a bit like grieving, in that your Inner Child is allowed to express her / his feelings after all these years, because he or she now has you to listen to them. This will all become much clearer to you at the therapy sessions with me.
You have a choice
The guilt, blame and shame you are experiencing is neither inevitable nor incurable. Working with me, using the powerful Parks Inner Child Therapy that I employ, means you do have a choice.
You need to experience it to see for yourself. To find out more, call me today on 07702 911787 or email for a FREE, no-obligation 30 minutes initial consultation.