What About "Shame" and Low Self-Esteem?

One way that humans defend themselves is through the development of self-blame as a coping defense. Many people call this "shame". I call it "Internalized Blame of Self" (IBS). This coping strategy develops in childhood when our primary resource, our undeveloped brain, tells us that whatever happens in our world is "my fault". If this makes sense to you, read more here: 


The Backwards Bicycle

If we can realize that the work of therapy actually involves a lot of brain change we can move forward. Often, a defense that develops to cope with trauma is self-blame. This self-blame helps the child (or adult) survive adverse circumstances and events. It's a good thing. However, in adulthood, this self-blame, this shame, can result in self-sabotage that hinders success in education, career, relationships and more. When we are stuck in the self-blame game, we tend to judge ourselves as unworthy. This can get in the way of our healing process.

This video explains what it takes to change our brains. "Knowledge does not equal understanding." And decision making does not automaticallly result in change. It takes some time and support. 


Stuck in the Low Road?

Our natural fight, flight or freeze response can result in chronic anxiety, avoidance, panic attack and more. This response is helpful when there is real danger present. Yet, it hinders joy in life if we are stuck in a cycle of constant fear. Learning about brain processes is a part of Trauma Counseling and can be a first step toward healing.

This video uses the concept "low road" (our primitive brain, the Amygdala) versus "high road" (our reasoning brain, the cortical parts) to illustrate the cycle that develops after we have experienced trauma.



What About Addictions and Trauma?

With trauma-informed thinking, we can understand substance and behavioral addictions with much more compassion. Healing the foundation of the addictive behavior can help recovery "stick". When the effects of trauma are ignored or given token attention, the struggling person may develop "cross addictions"--they may quit drinking alcohol but begin working 80 hours weekly. This may be more culturally acceptable but "your best life" continues to elude the individual.

Read this article by a courageous provider of services for those who suffer from "addictions" 

An apology from providers to those we “help”…..


...substance abuse is not a specific disease. It is simply one of many forms of ...acting out. Its purpose is to take the person from here to over there.
— Colin Ross, MD, The Trauma Model

The following videos illustrate some important, alternative ways to think about what we call "addiction".