Hello and welcome back to the Therapy Spot, everyone. As a bonus for the month of February, I am reissuing my interview with Martha Sweezy, Ph.D., from May 0f 2017. In addition to her therapy practice in Massachusetts, Martha works as an assistant professor at Harvard medical school. She teaches internationally as well, and has also co-authored multiple books on IFS. We spoke about managing internal and external critics, and the feelings of shame and blame in our lives.
Long-time listeners may recall some of my previous podcasts about shame and Self-love. I welcomed the opportunity to discover what a fellow IFS practitioner had to say about shame. Martha weighed in on important issues at the core of shame, such as:
- What is shame and why is it important?
- How do we learn to shame ourselves and others?
- How can criticism and blame help us, and how do they hurt?
- Where can we begin to relate to ourselves differently on the inside?
- Does shame have an antidote?
Shame’s roots often lie in our early childhood. A parent, a teacher, a sibling, or a friend may have judged us in some way, and we accepted their opinion as a fact about ourselves. We thought, “I am too much, or too little; I am bad or wrong; I am worthless,” and thus our inner critic was born.
Shame hurts, but your critic doesn’t shame to be hurtful. Rather, your critic shames you to protect you — to make you aware of possible outcomes so that you can work to prevent them. Unfortunately, this part, like all our parts, can overwhelm us. So how do we step back from shame and stop the conflict?
This may sound complicated — especially if you are new to IFS — but you can start simply. Martha’s advice? Begin by noticing. When critical or shaming thoughts get loud, notice the speaker. Embrace the knowledge that it is only one voice, one among many. Get curious towards it, listen, and open up a dialogue.
If you enjoyed what Martha Sweezy had to say, I encourage you to visit her website.