BOOK : “Healing the Shame that Binds You”, John Bradshaw
OUTCOME of Double Messages (DM) – which cause Double Binds (DB)
HINT that we’re in a DB:
🌀Compulsively over-react to a DM communication, & are surprised by our behavior – like being in a trance – “I just wasn’t myself.”
✂️ AND the sender (S) blames us for the conflict that often results
❓ we can’t see how or why we caused it. We become frustrated, distrusting the sender, (“What DO you really mean / want?”), but distrust ourselves more (“What did I do wrong?”)
We don’t realize our reactions are normal & fit the situation. While we are in fact a temporary prisoner – we’re not the creator or cause, but is the very thing the S wants the us (R) to believe.
BASIC RESULTS of DMs – we believe THAT:
1. I’m crazy – what’s really going on here?
> Can’t decide what’s real – leading to ‘pathologies’
2. I’m at fault – I’m always causing problems in this relationship
> Can’t step out of the attachment to the significant other (S)
3. I’m stupid – can’t figure this out, no matter how hard I try.
> Can’t understand or use META-communication (subtext & cues to get meaning)
4. I’m stuck – whichever way I turn, I can’t move
> Can’t withdraw from the situation or see a way out
IN IT: DMs generate the excruciating feeling of SHAME
Brené Brown (TED Talks reminds us that shame comes from the belief that our essence is bad – which means out needs – & therefore unworthy of acceptance & belonging. The problem is that we still believe this as adults (Part 7b).
OUT of IT: To outgrow / escape the DM trap, we need Emotional Resilience.
• No matter how it got started, anyone caught in a DB suffers damage to their ego – i.e self esteem.
While various kinds of therapy are vital to healing, being able to bounce back from trauma & the resulting grief is also encouraged by supportive friends, family & a spiritual community.
Shame separates us from those rich sources of help. It makes us distrust & judge ourselves, disconnecting us from our intuitive wisdom. DM make us doubt our sanity & basic value, so we hide parts or all of ourselves by withdrawing emotionally &/or physically from the very relationships that would nourish us.
• “Learned Helplessness” : In a classic study (U. of Penn, 1960s) animals were repeatedly hurt by an electric shock when trying to get out of a locked cage. After many attempts, the animals stopped making the effort.
Eventually the experimenters opened the cage door, left it open & turned off the shock grid, giving the animals a change to get out.
BUT, even seeing the door open did not induce them to make a dash for freedom – they’d ‘learned their lesson’ too well – unwilling to take the risk of being hurt again.
• Not Feeling: Children are naturally in touch with their emotions & intuition, so are more likely to resist & react to DMs – at first.
Eventually they have no choice but to submit. The emotional pull of the unspoken message (META-language) is stronger than what’s being said. They can ‘feel’ something is wrong, but don’t know why they keep getting into so much trouble with the controller.
> To survive the emotional & mental torture, children have to ignore their own awareness. By compartmentalizing, they only focus on the S, hiding the awful reality from the conscious mind & trying to avoid punishment – which sadly is impossible.
This is then carried into adulthood as a deeply ingrained pattern of denial.
• Having Feelings: Yet in spite of this defense, Rs do have strong emotions – both loving & hating one’s captor / beloved. For adults, the confusion created by DMs leaves victims assuming they have no options, causing great anguish.
— Turned outward: it’s anger/ rage at the S, but left smolders under the surface, becoming resentment & bitterness. It can also be directed at others we pick who are similar
— Turned inward: it’s S-H & despair – at oneself. Being in a no-win environment saps the will, & leaves us disconnected from self & others.
NEXT: Being CONFIDENT (Part 1)