Overcoming Shame

Acceptance of Self


I remember visiting a friend–let’s call her Lisa–who had a young daughter, “Jessie.” Lisa was in the process of potty-training Jessie. My son was much older and I had experienced the potty-training phase. I must have been a lucky mom because it was so easy. He was in diapers one day, and then he was not. For my friend, however, she felt frustrated with her daughter. One day I remember Lisa telling me, loud enough for her daughter to hear, that “Jessie was so bad.”

Inside, I cringed. Her daughter was nearby and could hear her mother talking negatively about her.

I asked Lisa if she was open to some feedback. She said yes.

“So, when your child hears you say that she is ‘bad,’ she internalizes it and it can turn into ‘I am bad.’ For a child, they cannot differentiate the behavior and their inner self.”

This can be the start of shame. Shame for feeling “bad” or “wrong.” The fact is, each person is innately good. Each person is enough. For addicts and alcoholics, the feelings of shame and guilt run rampant. The feelings of shame drive the desire to use. It dictates how we react to others. It changes and alters our behaviors when triggered.