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How Do I Love Myself When People Shame Me?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
August 28, 2017



Have you ever wondered why some people get judged and shamed and others rarely do? Discover why and what to do about it.



Shame and judgmentJana asked:

“Dear Dr. Paul, I often feel responsible or try to control how others are treating me by being nice and friendly, but some people keep shaming me. Especially at work, I either feel frustrated or resentful toward these people. How can I set a boundary for myself and stop this behavioral pattern? Thanks.”

One of the false beliefs that Jana is operating from is that she can control how people treat her. She believes that by being nice and friendly, she can have this control over others, and then she is frustrated and resentful when her control strategies are not working.

Many of us grow up with the belief that if only we do things right – such as be nice and friendly – we can have control over how others treat us. Let’s take an example of why this isn’t true:

Let’s say that Jim, at Jana’s work, keeps shaming her. Jim is married to a very critical woman, and he doesn’t know how to take care of himself in the face of her criticism. Not only that, but when Jim was growing up, his older sister was rejecting and shaming toward him, so Jim is harboring deep resentment toward his wife, his sister, and women in general. It’s easy for Jim to take his pain out on Jana, because Jana is allowing her wounded self to try to control him and the others who shame her. In being ‘nice and friendly’ toward people who shame her, she is letting Jim and the others know that she is an easy target.

While Jana has no control over Jim’s past, his troubled marriage, and the fact that Jim isn’t taking responsibility for his own feelings, she does have control over her own behavior. Instead of being ‘nice and friendly’ to people who are abusive toward her, as a loving adult Jana would be kind but distant. It’s always loving to ourselves to be kind to others, no matter what they do, but it isn’t loving to keep putting ourselves in the line of fire. By being ‘nice and friendly,’ Jana is putting herself in the line of fire.

If Jana was doing her Inner Bonding work and developing a loving adult, she would completely let go of trying to control others or taking any responsibility for them. She would accept that they are operating from their ego wounded selves and that there is nothing she can do to make them behave as loving adults.

As a result of letting go of control over them, Jana would lovingly disengage from these people – i.e., she would move out of range from them as much as possible, and not respond at all to their shaming behavior. She would keep her heart open and perhaps send them a prayer for their hurting inner child, and she would be very compassionate with her inner child for the heart hurt she feels when others are mean and uncaring.

Jana is asking, “How can I set a boundary for myself and stop this behavioral pattern?” Jana would be setting a boundary by disengaging when others are judging and shaming her. Her boundary is to not be around them when they are acting out. She can’t stop them from acting out, but she can disengage from them when they are acting from their wounded selves.

The more Jana takes loving care of herself by respecting herself enough to not be around shaming people, the less likely it is that they will continue to shame her. When they see that it isn’t getting to her, and that she is just walking away with self-respect, they will be left with their own feelings and behavior to deal with. While they might not change internally, they will likely make some behavioral changes in response to her changes.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."

Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.

Photo by Jad Limcaco



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