Human nature is human nature. We are no different from anyone else with whom we interact. I was talking with someone the other day and he noted that he knows what he is doing is wrong, but he can’t stop doing it. On top of that after he does the “not-desired” behavior, he hates himself all the more. I told him as much as he didn’t like his behaviors and saw himself with shame, he was not unique in the “do-hate-shame” pattern, and that acknowledging/exposing the pattern was a first step.
I so appreciate that much understanding of human behavior is being seen, more and more, through an attachment lens. I worked for some years with children who did not experience healthy attachments, and who learned to “survive” with their own means to manage life. Briefly, let me explain. If mice don’t experience nurture or care, they die. Humans have greater self care. Instead of “dying physically” our psyches are brilliant, and learn to adapt rather quickly with much resiliency. Simply said, the psyche takes on ownership/responsibility of the lack of care/neglect so that there is some sense of control. It (the psyche) becomes self-reliant as best as possible, and needs to do so in order to manage the reality that “love” is absent or chaotically confusing. Control becomes a survival – their “gift” to themselves. However, the truth/belief behind the “gift” is this: “It has to be my fault/responsibility that I am not loved because if it is the responsibility of those who were supposed to love me, and they didn’t, then I don’t think I could survive.”
The concept in parenting or creating attachment, then, is not to move in and “shower love and gifts”, and “makeup” for the absences of trust and love, because that is threatening to their trust in their own (brilliant) system they instinctively created. If you understand the upstream/downstream concept, then trying to force your agenda and love will send the person upstream becoming more protective of his system, less trusting, and more defensive. It does the opposite of our “good intentions”. Instead, we need to: move towards slowly with validation, acknowledge his “brilliancy”, support/come alongside in his “doing life”‘, and wait for him to “grow” or expand his trust circle. We teach parents to have time-ins instead of time-outs, in order to demonstrate that they are going to be there, they are not going anywhere, and that they are able to be trusted when the child is ready. (Time-out reinforces the über-protective self-reliance and increases a chasm in trust because it justifies the “fault” and consequences. The child knows fault/responsibility and “safely” stays in that control of “it is my fault,” “see I’m bad” way of managing life.)
So, how does all of this discussion relate to the original issue of our “do-hate-shame” pattern? Our behaviors are “protective” of our homeostasis. We learn patterns, habits, behaviors because they meet some need in us. Our being is always seeking homeostasis and balance, so when we “meet a need” with a behavior and it unbalances the system, then we counteract with another behavior, a belief, an emotion, to regain some sense of balance in the system. If we move into the system and judge the behavior as “bad/wrong/not good”, then like the child above, our system is going to respond defensively, paddle harder upstream, become secretive in both the action and the shame. In a sense the same needs with attachment with others, is what we experience internally with our own ego states or management styles. Homeostasis is best when the different management styles in us (reactionary behaviors) know, trust, and feel safe in the system called self, and trust our heart/soul/true self.
Like the parenting style suggested, we need to “move into the behavior, validate the “why’s”, normalize, eliminate the judgment, and minimize the flip-flop reactions in the system we brilliantly created. When we do so, there is greater homeostasis and less reactionary behaviors, which in turn, in a way, dis-empowers the negative behavior and therefore, then also, minimizes the “do-hate-shame” cycle. Hope that makes sense.
Integrative thought: We need to move in to the behavior in order to move it out.