saata VOL: 1, ISSUE: 3 - OCTOBER 2017 facebook

SAATA ITAA Conference-2016 team
Healing the Shame that Binds You - Sarmishta Mani home
Kousalya-Karthikeyan Sarmishta Mani is a student of Dr. Susan George. She has chosen specialisation in TA psychotherapy. Her philosophy includes her belief that every human being finds meaning and purpose in life from expressing and developing one's unique self, alongside establishing and maintaining nurturing and supportive relationships. She believes life offers repeated opportunities to become aware of one's path towards self actualisation, and seeks, in her practice, to facilitate her clients' movement towards theirs.

The book, "Healing The Shame That Binds You "by John Bradshaw ( Health Communications, Inc. Deerfield Beach, Florida) centres around the affect of shame, positioning it among all the affects discovered by Silvan Tompkins as the most important to one's sense of self or identity, dignity and honour, as also for one's ethical and spiritual life.

Bradshaw distinguishes between two forms of shame- normal, healthy shame and its toxic version. Normal, healthy shame is presented as necessary for us to be truly human, teaching us our limits and our fallibility/vulnerability to make mistakes while setting appropriate human boundaries. A large area of focus in the book is on several aspects of toxic shame such as its origin, manifestation, consequences, impact etc.

The middle part of the book explores steps to heal and release toxic shame, thereby reclaiming one's connection to healthy shame, and through that, one's connections with fellow human beings and one's spiritual source.

The last part is a portion titled Spiritual Awakening-The Discovery Process that explores spiritual wholeness and integration, ending with the author sharing a personally transformative exercise through which he experienced the love and acceptance of his higher power.

Throughout the book, Bradshaw quotes/refers to several professionals from whose work he substantiates his understanding of the subject of shame, including Berne and Steiner.

For a practitioner, the book may appear to restrict itself to one topic extensively, but the depth of coverage has much to offer. Bradshaw links toxic shame to the dysfunctional compulsions behind an exhaustive list of harmful behaviours such as substance abuse, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, perfectionism, enmeshment, people pleasing, rescuing, to name a few, and explains their unproductive developments. He elaborates on the processes that lead to the conversion of naturally occurring healthy shame to its dehumanising and destructive form. He sheds light on how some of the systems that individuals depend upon in order to belong, feel protected and connect with fellow humans such as families, schools, religious organisations etc., could influence the above processes. His experience with a client who belonged to one such family is shared in detail for the reader to follow along.

Bradshaw offers a wide range of suggestions and techniques to guide in the process of recovery, covering practices from Meditation, Twelve step programme, NLP, CBT, REBT, Inner Child healing, Firestone's Voice Work, Grief Work, Confronting Inner Voices, and so on. This spread of exercises makes it more likely for a reader to find at least one activity that they could implement on themselves/in their work.

The book left a significant impact on me. Bradshaw's elucidation conveys earnestness and a sense of faith in his experience and learning. His humility in sharing his own journey from dysfunction to health through healing and transforming toxic shame inspired me deeply. The tone in which his ideas are communicated came across to me as non-judgemental. I find this for example, in his respect for each person's choice in determining what constitutes their spiritual source. On the challenges front, I did not find the book to be an easy read. I had to return to most sections several times, to get the essence of what was being conveyed, which I personally did not mind. Also, the exercises provided may not be new to the reader.

To sum up, here's a book which seeks to provide an honest, well researched, relevant, insightful and wholesome experience to its reader, with a strong message of hope that one gets back in touch with one's potential.

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