4 Ways to Subdue the Strongholds of Shame

Kris Vallotton

 

As discussed in previous blogs (Silencing Shame and Disconnecting Shame), shame is feeling unworthy. Guilt says, “I did a bad thing,” while shame says, “I am bad.

Shame has many faces, conveying varying messages of ill being, coaxing its victims into secrecy, silence, and blame – condemning them to eek out a seemingly inescapable existence in the dark rooms of depression, anxiety, and detachment.

Some people tend to be drawn towards shame (always feel bad about themselves), while others attempt to avert shame (avoid shame whenever possible). Many people vacillate between the two. Whatever side of the shame spectrum they may choose, shame always demands a prescription to numb the pain. When our identity and destiny are in question, coping with life’s challenges and the devil’s demands become more difficult.

We were made to feel O.K. about ourselves. When we don’t feel O.K., we often look for ways to comfort our pain, and compensate for our inadequacies. Shame lures us into dysfunctional behaviors, oftentimes resulting in addictions – becoming strongholds, seeking to choke out our lives, and the lives of those around us.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, approximately 23 million people are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Not to mention those who are addicted to:

• Pornography, promiscuity, adultery

• Gambling

• Overeating, binging, anorexia

• Shopping

• Exercise

• Recreation

• Busyness

• Work

• People (Co-dependency)

When we experience shame, we look for countermeasures to compensate for the comfort we need. Until we face the realities of shame, we will never subdue the strongholds keeping us from walking in, and fulfilling, our true identity and destiny.

 

THE SHAME SYNDROME

Shame places us on a merry-go-round of never ending promises of change, propelling us into poor choices. When we don’t feel O.K., we feel powerless to end the shame syndrome driving us into dysfunctional decisions that destroy our sense of well-being even further.

Have you ever found yourself having this revolving conversation in your head?

 

“God, I’m sorry”

“That was the last time I’ll do that”

“I did it again”

 

 “God, I’m sorry”

“That was the last time I’ll do that”

“I don’t know if I can stop”

“I want to stop”

“I did it again”

 

 “God, I’m sorry”

“That was the last time I’ll do that”

“I did it again”

“I can’t tell anyone”

“What will they think?”

“I’m alone”

 

 “God, I’m sorry”

“That was the last time I’ll do that”

“God, please set me free”

“I did it again”

“I feel so bad – I am bad”

“I can’t change”

 

And the cycle of repentance, resolve, and resignation continues to pull us into the depths of despair and dysfunction. Finally, our futile attempts for freedom lead to a fatalistic view of our future, and hope for freedom.

The problem is that we are often fighting the symptoms of the problem instead of the source of the problem.

 

SUBDUING THE SOURCE OF THE STRONGHOLD

The fact is that we can be free. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).”

In order to be free from the dysfunctional addictive behavior cycle, we must know the truth about what is at the root of the bondage that has taken us captive.

Oftentimes, we are waging war against the wrong enemy.

While addictions are enemies of the life God has promised us, it is shame that is the 5 Star General over the addiction armies. Shame is the source of strongholds in our lives. In order to subdue the stronghold of addictions, we must subdue shame.

Moreover, we must identify the triggers that compel us to act out in destructive, dysfunctional behaviors.

 

4 SUGGESTIONS FOR SUBDUING STRONGHOLDS OF SHAME

1. What am I feeling?

Identifying our feelings, and the accompanying shame messages that trigger dysfunctional, addictive, behavior is essential in becoming free.

When someone says something derogatory towards us; when a circumstance doesn’t work out the way we had hoped; when we fail at something important to us, we can often sense a wide variety of demeaning messages of shame. It is important to discern the specific feelings associated with those messages.

I would recommend developing a list of feelings, and memorize them, so that you can recognize them when they present themselves.

Then, don’t judge the feeling; remember feelings are not right or wrong – they just are. Stuffing, ignoring, and condemning our feelings will not ease the pain, or erase the messages of shame. Acknowledging and even accepting our feelings is the beginning to finding out what we really need for our well-being.

2. What do I need?

Acknowledging our needs is not a selfish pursuit. Feelings are indicators of needs.

Feeling sad may indicate that we need comfort

Feeling disappointed may indicate that we need assurance

Feeling irritated may indicate that we need understanding

Feeling guilty may indicate that we need forgiveness

Feeling hopeless means that we may need a fulfilling vision

Feeling depressed may indicate that we need passion

Feeling lonely may indicate that we need intimacy

Feeling rejected may indicate that we need connection

We were created to have our needs fulfilled by God and others. When we deny or downplay our emotions – our feelings, we are choosing to fly through the storms of life without the instruments designed to assist in navigating us towards the runway of well-being.

It is important to identify our feelings and what are they indicating.

For example, you may discern that you are feeling lonely. At that point, it is important to ask: “What are my feelings indicating?” “What do I need?”

“I need:”

“A hug”

“A friend”

“A community”

“Someone who will listen”

“Sexual intimacy”

“To encounter God’s presence”

3. Manage behavior

While we may accurately assess our feelings, and the needs they are demanding to be met, it is equally important to seek sources of fulfillment that will lead us into well-being.

Ask yourself, “What would be the best way to fulfill that need?”

Seeking sound solutions for the fulfillment of our needs is crucial in subduing strongholds that shame seduces us into dis-ease.

Making good choices based on the consequences of cause and affect is key to healthy problem solving.

Ask yourself:

“What will this behavior cost me?”

“How will this option affect my family, friends, and community?”

“How will this choice create permanent well-being?”

“How will this decision impact my future destiny?

4. Reach out for help

No one is an island. We cannot subdue the strongholds of shame on our own. If we could, we would have already done it! We need God’s help; we need the help of others.

I want to encourage you to begin to:

1. Take risk to reach out

2. Be vulnerable in sharing shame strongholds, remembering that true strength is found in weakness.

3. Find a support system that can help you can grow in faith, authenticity, accountability, and a deeper sense of love and belonging.

4. Surround yourself with people will encourage you to walk in your true identity and destiny.

You were made to thrive in life, experiencing a sense of well-being in increasing measure.

I want to encourage you:

Don’t settle for anything less

You deserve the best

You are worth it!

I would love to hear feedback on how this blog impacted you. If it encouraged you, remember to share it with your friends, and look for more blogs coming on this topic of Shame.

4 Responses to “4 Ways to Subdue the Strongholds of Shame”

  1. Mitsu47560

    Wow!! This was such a great article! Thank you Kris for taking time out to write this! Thank you father for the ministry you’ve given to Kris! Bless him father in Jesus name.

  2. Thank you.
    I have given up on so many things, forced myself to not care, and walked away from many things including God. I have known about my shame that runs deep, but even driven into shame that I don’t know how to deal with it. Twice reading gershen kaufmans book, yet never really coming to a solution of it. Wanting to be healed, wanting to be right yet ending in disappointment with God, myself, and others. Thank you for addressing this epidemic.

  3. I have a question. How do you help someone who is stuck in shame but feels so ashamed that they distance themselves from relationship? What are some practical ways to help someone process shame that is in hiding?

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