Stages of Therapy
Shame: What You Can Do About It

The answer to this question can be stated quickly and clearly,
but understanding the answer can take a lifetime.

Don’t blame your parents unless you have to.
But do hold them, and yourself, RESPONSIBLE.


Suppose you have a high IQ but you believe you are “stupid.” You remember that your father called you “stupid” over and over as you were growing up. Should you blame him for giving you this problem?

Blaming him will help you to feel better (because you are releasing anger). But it won’t fix anything.

Regardless of whether you blame your father or not, you won’t really change your opinion of yourself until you start simply holding him responsible for his treatment of you – and you responsible for believing him all these years.

Some undramatic day it will dawn on you that he was simply wrong.

This is the day you will actually change.

You will finally be ready to change because you finally understand and accept these two things about responsibility: That your father is responsible for his errors, and, that you (not him!) are responsible for fixing the damage he caused.


Unfortunately, most of us do need to go through a period of blaming before we can change.

And, even more unfortunately, many people can’t even get to the blaming stage
until after they’ve experienced a whole lot of
compassion, support, love and affection from others.


Ask Yourself These Questions:

1) Do I usually love myself and take good care of myself?

If the answer is “Yes,” congratulations! (Move on to the next question….)

If the answer is “No,” you haven’t received enough love in your life – and it probably started in childhood with parents who emotionally or physically distant from you. You may not even feel much anger at your parents for this, because you are so used to believing that you are worthless, and that you are the problem.

What To Do:
Spend all of your energy trying to find and absorb the love, support, compassion, respect, and affection you need. Get these things from many different people. (Not just your spouse, or your therapist, or any one individual.)

What To Expect:
After you receive enough love you will eventually begin to love yourself. Then you will probably begin to feel your anger at your parents and you are ready for question #2.

2) Would it feel good to blame my parents?

REMEMBER: If it would feel good to blame them, but you would feel guilty afterwards, the answer is still “Yes, it would feel good to blame them.” [See topics about guilt.]

If “No,” congratulations! (Move on to the next question…..)

If the answer is “Yes,” you can try all you want to stop blaming your parents, but you won’t be able to stop it until all that anger is out.

What To Do:
Let yourself really dive into your anger at your parents! Go ahead and blame them all you want! Even have a few “temper tantrums” if you can arrange it. Make sure that nothing you do is going to cause physical injury to yourself or anyone else, but except for that caution: don’t hold back! (Most people do all of this alone in their houses or in their cars. Some people do it with a close friend or in therapy.) It is not necessary to confront your parents in person, but it’s OK to do it if that’s what you need.

Your goal should be to use up all of your anger as quickly as you can.

What To Expect:
Eventually (after weeks or months usually) you will notice that your anger is finally gone. Then you will be ready to make real changes in your life and you are ready for the final questions.

3) Am I done blaming my parents? Do I know that they are responsible for the mistakes they made in the past, and do I accept that I am responsible for fixing their mistakes?

If the answer to any of these is “No,” go back to question #1 or #2.

If the answers are all “Yes,” sit back, relax, and make a list of all of the REAL changes you are now willing and able to make in your adult life.

If making these real changes is easy now, you are in great shape!
If making these changes is still extremely hard, you probably lied to yourself in an earlier question!

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons