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eradicating shame

Bradshaw talks about striving for power and control and quotes Terry Kellogg as saying that he had always lived on-guard so that he’d not be caught off guard; pow- er hungry clients or clients who are constantly fending off threats, rejections and failures, who have strong tendencies to want to con- trol (including your sessions with them!) are often driven by shame. Control equates to power and they need power to compensate for their lack of self-worth and to make sure that no-one finds out about their badness.

Bradshaw also states that ‘rage is probably the most naturally oc- curring cover-up for shame’ and it protects in two ways

1. It keeps others (the world) away in an attempt to keep the shame based person safe

2. It allows the shame based per- son to transfers shame to others, which brings (temporary) relief from the exhaustion of having to constantly hide their ‘badness’ from the world

Addictions – drugs, sex, televi-

like they are in the way, which is how shame based people feel; they’d even feel in the way of close friends and cannot access the pos- sibility that anyone would want to spend time with them.

Deeply shamed based clients are often very intelligent; feel- ing shame has nothing to do with reason, logic, intelligence or will- power. It’s also not something that someone can just snap (or reason) out of or get over.

Perfectionism is often the pre- senting problem, as is procrastina- tion (which is usually underpinned by perfectionism).

Overachievers – the only way they can justify their existence is by DOING, and doing LOTS. Even if it kills them.

They are often rescuers – in addition to DOING, helping others also helps to justify their existence.

They love telling their story (again and again) and often argue for their limitations, effectively try- ing to convince anyone who is will- ing to listen (that would include us as practitioners) how bad they are.

They often have a sense of abso- lute identification with the worth- less / non-deserving state; it is how they ARE, not a problem they have.

They often talk in absolutes (NO- BODY loves me, I ALWAYS get rejected).

sion, work (although this is often rewarded in our society), alchohol etc

Clients who self-harm – often a very visible external manifestation of their self-loathing and punishing themselves for their badness

Body/language: usually unable to meet your eyes, limp hand- shake, tone of voice and general apologetic demeanour, acting

Arrogance – they often use ar- rogance and boasting to cover up their deep seated sense of unwor- thiness and shame.

Paradoxical arrogance – they often believe that they are SO bad (it is, after all, who they ARE) that NO-ONE and NO-THING can help them. This understandably often leads to hopelessness and despair.

Their ‘core issue’ does not seem to shift or if it does it usually

doesn’t last; one step forwards and it seems, two steps back.

It is crucial that we recognise these signs so that we don’t get hooked by them as practitioners, like start making it about us and starting to doubt our- selves or EFT. We have to understand that some of these clients will find it very difficult to ask for what they want, disagree with us or correct us to help us to help them.

As responsible practitioners we al- ready have to be aware of the power differential we have with our clients and I believe that this is especially important with shame based clients. Notwithstanding my earlier stated beliefs that no-one has the power to make anyone feel any particular way, we have to be very careful of how our actions and words impact our clients.


I’ve had occasional one-session wonders with deep seated shame, especially when the bulk of the shame originates from specific incidents like a particular sexual abuse event.

But for the most I found that ‘just’ using EFT did not bring the results that most of us have started taking for granted. Some clients either remained stuck or seemingly made progress only to fall back into old ways of thinking, feeling, being and doing – which yet again added to their shame.

It was my frustration and constant questioning ‘what have I over- looked to resolve this’ that led me to consider shame from an arche- typal perspective.

I realized that for me, shame is mostly caused by unhealthy thinking. As much as EFT does sometimes change our thinking, it does not always. I started hearing myself say ‘The most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do was change the way I think’ and then one day


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