How did I get into the business of unconscious shame? Unconsciously, of course. I wasn’t even born at the time.
In 1932, my grandmother had an affair. My grandfather (Wikipedia) not only divorced her, but went to court for custody of my mother. He was a retired Royal Air Force Wing Commander, twice decorated for bravery in the Great War; she was an adulteress. He won.
This emotionally destroyed my mother. The shame that her mother had abandoned her crippled her for life. There was a similar tale on my father’s side. As a sensitive child, thanks to generational shame (epigenetic inheritance) I inherited my parents’ unresolved traumatic feelings of abandonment and sexual shame.
I became a software developer for industrial and governmental clients in New Zealand, Asia, North America, and Britain. While my career flourished, my personal life didn’t. As a result I began—unconsciously at first—to apply my analytical skills to my own emotional processes. I began my personal development and discovered the “shambles” described by 1960s British counter-culture psychologist R.D. Laing:
“When our personal worlds are rediscovered… we discover first a shambles… genitals dissociated from heart; heart severed from head; heads dissociated from genitals.”
I realised I was ashamed of my heart (emotions) and genitals (sexuality)—an unconscious shame that locked me into disempowering beliefs and dysfunctional behaviours.
It took me a while to realise this unconscious shame is endemic. It surfaces in a fear of public speaking or being photographed. In fears of authority, responsibility and commitment. In embarrassment with bodily functions and sexuality. It underlies anxiety, panic attacks, addictions and self-harm, as well as all dysfunctional sexual behaviour.
Clearing unconscious shame is a messy business. The deeper we dig, the more our unconscious damage surfaces in our lives. I’ve made mistakes, acted inappropriately and hurt people I care about. Yet, as Carl Jung reminds us, to lead a fully conscious life we must journey into its depths.
This led me into the world of education, where I became the Chair of Governors of my son’s primary school. In 2010 I was commissioned by the Thames Valley Police to create a primary school musical on the emotional roots of extreme behaviour. When Chemistry goes Bang! has been staged at several schools in Milton Keynes.
In 2016 I partnered with the Milton Keynes Council to create Stepping Stones: building school capacity to resist radicalisation. This workshop has been successfully delivered to local primary schools.
I was part of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s ChildLine Schools Service, educating primary school children to recognise all forms of abuse. I also have an NCFE-certified Advanced (Level 4) Diploma in Life Coaching from Stonebridge College.
My blog posts focus on the emotional history of patriarchy and the damaging effects of shame. I post about once a week.
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