Once in a while, a perplexity that has fogged my brain for a long time suddenly clears. That happened to me last weekend when I attended Inspire, a women’s retreat in Indiana.
The keynote speaker spent her sessions giving us a good dose of much-needed Christian psychology. Understanding how we are put together and how we tend to process life is an incredibly helpful aid to living well.
One of the revelations in my heart and brain as she spoke had to do with contempt and what gives birth to a critical spirit.
By “a critical spirit” I’m not referring to the helpful and healthy kind of feedback that happens between people who love and trust each other. I’m talking about contemptuous criticism; the deeply wounding lack of approval and tearing down of a person at the most vulnerable level.
This kind of criticism, the kind that slices and shreds mercilessly, is born out of shame.
Shame is criticism’s mother.
Now I see clearly that trying to remove the contempt and criticism in myself will never work. If I try, shame will only give birth to more.
I also can’t stop others from criticizing me. I can’t please someone whose shame wants to choke me out.
In my next post, I want to tell you two stories from my life to illustrate how shame and contemptuous criticism have affected me, both in how I relate to others and also in how others relate to me. I want to look at possible solutions and hear your feedback. This is a journey in process for me.
How have shame and criticism affected you?
To the blog readers who came and introduced yourselves to me at Inspire: THANK YOU! I only wish I had been able to sit down for a long talk with each of you! I savored each connection as a gift from God.