Today we’re going to talk about toxic Autism shame and how to heal it. So this is an exciting topic for me because pretty much my whole life has been ruled by shame and guilt.
I’m going to talk about the differences between guilt, shame, and toxic shame, so stay till the very end, because I’m going to have some really good tips on how to heal shame once and for all.
So first of all, shame is a deep seated “sense of self” that runs a lot deeper than guilt. Guilt is basically remorse, you know, you make a mistake, or you mess up – you go out and party and the next day you have guilt, because you said something you didn’t want to really say.
Guilt is more like a short term mistake. Whereas toxic shame is more of a toxic poison that runs throughout your whole being, every cell of your being has toxic shame. If you were raised in an abusive household, or if you had bullies or whatever, it just affects every cell of your self worth.
So toxic shame can basically come from childhood memories, and they just get built into your overall self image. So, for example, my childhood was built on shame, I was a highly sensitive person, and I had Asperger’s, those two things right there set me up to have a lot of guilt and shame in my life, especially because my dad was very strict.
He had Asperger’s and he was a control freak. So if I messed up, I basically got spanked really hard. It was very fearful, very scary, because his rage was just through the roof. It didn’t happen regularly, but it confused me even more because it’d be a fun family, you know, for many months, but then if I did something that really pissed him off, this rage came out of nowhere.
I think he was a dry drunk because his father was an alcoholic and was very scary. My dad did not have any stability growing up under his dad. So my dad didn’t drink. He didn’t want to be like his father. So he was sober. But I call it a dry drunk because he had the same rage as his dad, but he wasn’t drinking.
The first incident that really messed me up was when I was four years old. I was in preschool, and I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I was in class and the teacher was very mean. She didn’t allow me to go to the bathroom, and I believe I wet myself.
She basically embarrassed me in front of the whole entire class. That’s very traumatic for a four year old, especially a four year old who is highly sensitive. I didn’t even want to be in school in the beginning, I wanted to be home with my mom.
The next memory was my dad spanking me when I was five. That was the very first time I remember him really just hitting me super hard. And it was in front of cars driving by because we had stopped to go to the bathroom in a boat yard. He saw me looking at some fiberglass on the ground and he said don’t touch it.
What does a five year old boy do? They do the opposite. I went over and touched it. Then pretty soon my dad was just flailing me around and spanking me super hard. I peed my pants a little as cars were driving by and I remember just feeling utter embarrassment and shame.
Next, I had abusive teachers in grade school and in high school. I remember getting punched in the arm by a teacher. One teacher threw a rubber ball at me during PE class and it hit me so hard that I wet myself a little. And another teacher grabbed me by the hair and literally pulled me up off of my seat because I wouldn’t let a less popular kid sit next to me on the bleachers.
So those are just three incidents that I remember off the top of my head. Then on top of that the bullies came into my life. They punched me in the arm every single day. I had bruises all over my arms; and on top of that my friends even picked on me because I had big dreams. I wanted to be a rock and roll star when I grew up and they were like yeah, right, Erik, you’re not gonna do any of that when you grow up, you’re going to be a loser.
My friends were toxic. I attracted those friends because my dad didn’t respect me, he made fun of me. So I attracted the same type of people in my life in school.
So when I was 17, I discovered alcohol and that became my go to remedy to get rid of reality, to forget about the bullies, to forget about everything in my life. But eventually, what I started doing with alcohol was very detrimental. I started blacking out, and I started getting in trouble with the law, I dropped out of high school, and I started hanging out with even worse people.
So alcohol didn’t really help in the long term either. So those are just some of the incidences I had growing up, which really didn’t help the toxic shame. I basically had low self esteem, I was beaten down. That innocent little sweet boy was beaten down to the point where I was doubting everything I did.
And I hated school. I just wanted to escape, I was rocking back and forth, listening to heavy metal, heavy metal was my only escape, until I found alcohol and drugs. Then I turned to alcohol. It got to the point where I was getting drunk twice a day, I stopped eating, and I could barely work. I was almost homeless. That was when I was 36 years old, when I finally stopped alcohol.
But I still had a lot of self esteem issues. Just because you quit drinking or drugging doesn’t automatically heal your past, you have to get to the root cause and start working on your self worth. I’ll talk about that in a little bit.
So shame is basically hiding feelings of inadequacy, you can feel shame about your body, you can feel shame about your mind, you’re not smart enough, you’re not clever enough, you don’t have a grasp of the English language or whatever language you use. You could have shame about your mannerisms. There’s so many ways to feel toxic shame.
Here’s some of the results of toxic shame. These are some of the effects, you start to isolate because it’s easier to hide than it is to go into the public and face ridicule and face shame and face more criticism.
I used to just hide in my room. I used to just come home after school and listen to rock music, and rock back and forth in my living room and stare out the window. I didn’t want to talk to anyone.
The other negative effects of toxic shame is negative self talk. You know you call yourself names. You’re like, Man, that was I’m so stupid. Why did I do that? Or, you know, no one’s gonna like me, or, people are going to think I’m weird. That was my big one for me. People are gonna think I’m weird. I avoided embarrassment at all costs.
Because like I said, when I was four years old, I wet my pants and kids laughed at me. I never wanted to feel that again. So it was easier for me to self isolate, then feel any of that embarrassment or shame ever again.
Another one is perfectionism. Since you feel like everything’s just falling apart around you, you want to make up for the shame you feel, that low self esteem that you feel, by becoming a control freak and a perfectionist. Those are two Asperger traits to begin with. You want everything to be perfect, or you don’t want to do it at all. You think everything is either black or white. It’s either completely perfect or it’s just a mess.
You don’t want anything to do with it. So it’s an all or nothing thinking and that’s very common with Asperger’s. It’s very common with addicts. You know, they’re like, well, if I can’t do it perfectly, I don’t want to do it at all.
The next thing is self medicating. That’s an effect of toxic shame. Like I said, I turned to alcohol, and when I first discovered alcohol, it felt like magic. I became manic on alcohol. I could stay up all night. I had unlimited energy and I wanted to talk to everyone because I could truly feel like myself. I wasn’t doubting myself when I was drinking.
But drinking eventually turned against me and almost destroyed me. I had a heart attack when I was 32 years old. I destroyed many friendships and relationships and got fired from dozens of jobs and quit hundreds of jobs.
So moving on, here’s the thing, if you want to get past shame, toxic shame, you have to start rebuilding your self worth, and what I really like to do is inner child work because you want to go back to the root cause – you want to trace back to those memories that were the most embarrassing and the most hurtful for you. And you can do that with inner child work through hypnosis, you can do affirmations, okay?
There’s a really good self hypnosis by Michael Sealy for social anxiety, because it basically toxic shame leads to social anxiety, because you don’t want to be judged. You don’t want to feel like they’re thinking about you.
With Asperger’s, there’s a hyper awareness, we are hyper aware of our surroundings. We are self centered because we’re in fight or flight. When we get around people, we think that they’re talking about us, or they’re thinking about us, or they’re judging us because it’s all about us because we had to survive our environment. We had to survive by becoming self centered by almost becoming narcissistic.
In fact, I still do that today with my fiance. If she’s having a bad day, I instantly think about myself. And I ask, Did I do anything wrong? That’s, I mean, that’s crazy, that I’m still thinking that way. I’m 48 years old, and I’m still thinking that I’m in trouble. Or I don’t want to get around people because they’re going to tease me. These are really deep seated childhood traumas, basically.
The best way to get back to childhood traumas, and finally heal them is to do inner child work. Also work on your chakras, one and two, the root chakra, and the sacral chakra. So you can work on those two things. Plus, you can start getting away from things that are making you feel shame and guilt, like fapping.
You know, a lot of people are still doing stupid things. They’re still lying. They’re fapping, they’re watching porn, they’re drinking, they’re still smoking cigarettes, they’re in abusive relationships still today.
If you want to get back to that childhood trauma, you have to basically clean the slate right now, stop doing the stupid things that keep you in guilt and shame because it’s a vicious cycle. Addiction leads to guilt and shame, which makes you feel bad. So you go back to your addiction, it’s a negative loop. And it keeps going like this.
You have to break free from that negative loop by stopping the addictions and the alcohol, the lying, the cheating, the stealing, the drinking, even caffeine can make you feel nervous and anxious, which makes you want to self medicate even more.
So if you really want to get past anxiety, you’re going to have to expose yourself to things that make you feel fear. You can start in small, incremental steps. If you’re scared to leave the house, walk to the mailbox one day and take deep breaths, slow down your breathing, don’t drink any coffee, and walk to the mailbox and then the next day, go a little bit further.
Because exposure makes you expand and it gives you self confidence. Avoidance on the other hand, makes you contract and makes you more fearful of everything. If you avoid things you will get to the point where you can’t even leave the house, it will get worse and worse and worse.
I know because I stayed at home for weeks at a time, just drinking. And it was really hard for me to get back on track and rebuild my life. But I did it slowly. I wasn’t even showering. So the first thing I did was I had made myself shower. Then when I could do that I made myself go to the mailbox and when then I could do that I would drive to the grocery store. Then when I could do that, I would go get a job.
After that, I would start working out and I got a gym membership. I started rebuilding my body. I cut back on sugar and I switched to stevia. I would go to the sauna and a gym and get relaxed, I would take hot baths. I would do supplements like CBD oil and Kava.
So it’s a process, you’re not going to heal overnight. These are really deep seated wounds. This is stuff you’ve been feeding, you’ve been feeding that negative loop for decades. So it’s going to take time to get off of that negative loop.
But start listening to self hypnosis. Stop drinking, stop smoking, switch to healthier routines. Like when I stopped smoking, I switched to peanut m&ms and candy bars. Then when I got used to not smoking, I worked on quitting the candy. I switched to stevia sweetened drinks, like zevia is a stevia sweetened Cola and dark chocolate with stevia. You could saute bananas with butter and stevia. There’s many things you can do to alternate to get away from sugar and all those things.
So I hope this video helps hit that like button share this around. You know, toxic shame is probably the root cause for all of our addictions, all of the messed up things that have happened to us. So if we can get to that root cause of shame, you are on the right track to become a completely whole person again, who can actually laugh and smile and get back into society and, and get around healthier people. Not the destructive bullies that we had growing up. So love you guys Hang in there. It’s a journey but we’re gonna do this together. And I’ll talk to you soon.
Here’s more Resources for Asperger’s and Addiction
Erik C Johnson