2.2 Internalization

Planted: September 1, 2022
Last tended: February 25, 2023


Video Transcript The process in which shame becomes a subconscious state of being is called internalization. All this means is, the emotion starts to become part of us becomes a subconscious state of being. And we’ve got to stop this from happening. Because this is just building up more and more inadequacy. And this is just, you know, fueling the Fetish like the shame spiral that we saw just now. Any emotion can become internalized. When it is internalized, it stops functioning as an emotion becomes a character logical style, you probably know someone who could be labeled an angry person. All that means is they have internalized anger. or shame comes from many, many sources. It’s everywhere. But the internalization of it is the problem. Because that changes the feeling of shame into the feeling of being shameful. This can happen in there’s really two ways in which shame can become internalized. Usually, it comes and goes like any other emotion. But when we refuse to let ourselves feel it, it comes, but never goes. That’s the first way in which shame can become internalized by it coming or not going. Repeated shame experiences are just not given the attention they demand. One of the most powerful things you can say is, I feel shame, because saying that keeps it as healthy, human conscious shame, and stops it from being stops it from coming, but never going really naturally. If you feel shame, it will just run its course. But if you sort of refused to let yourself feel it, it won’t, and it will just stay there, get buried in the subconscious. And it will always be there. When we brush aside our feelings, no, that doesn’t change the fact that they’re there. Secondly, reliving and dwelling on shame experiences, is another way to increase the sense that they’re a part of you. Not something that you feel when I say shame experiences are really mean, literally anything that makes us feel the emotion of shame. I remember, in school, this is a this is a weird example. But this is something that I’ve definitely relived quite a few times over my life. I once went into a classroom, which I thought was my classroom. But it turned out that a different class was in there, I didn’t realize, I sat down, I started getting my books out. I looked around and everyone was looking at me. I apologized, I got up and left and everyone laughed at me. I mean, it’s just it’s a silly example. But I felt such shame at that experience. And over the years, it has repeatedly popped back up in my brain. And every time I dwelled on it and relived it, what that does is increasing, increases the sense that, you know, I am a mistake, or that was sort of my fault. It increases the sense of shame being a state of being. And furthermore, individual experiences are never too far from each other, usually thinking of one triggers another, and we get stuck in dwelling. I remember a time when I thought a woman was saying hello to me in the street. So I said hello back. But it turned out she was talking to her friend that I didn’t see. It’s stupid, but I felt such shame. And the thing is that all these little things form a collage of interconnected shame experiences in the brain, which when we dwell on them, and relive them, only serve to internalize shame. Further, we come to have the sense that we are flawed and we we don’t consider you know, if that woman in the street, we don’t consider if she also has experiences like that in her life. We don’t consider if she’s ever said hello to someone who was actually just talking to their friend. We just consider it to be unique to us. And again, that increases the sense of inadequacy that increases the internalization of shame as a state of being. I’m going to give an example now from the book. It’s a great book. It’s called no more Mr. Nice Guy. He says, When my son was nine years old He accidentally poked some holes in our kitchen table with a ballpoint pen. When he realized what he had done, he immediately showed his mother the damage because our son had appropriate healthy shame about his mistake. He knew that his actions had caused damage to the table. He also knew that he had to take responsibility. And most importantly, he knew that he wasn’t bad. But if I had done the same thing as a child, or even as an adult, I would have had an attack of toxic shame, and tried my best to hide or deny what I had done, I would have been convinced someone was going to be angry at me, I would have lived with the secret, as well as a constant fear of being found out. And that really is internalized shame. And again, I’ve spoken in quite in quite extreme terms in this. But remember, this is subconscious. So if you’re not thinking, if you’re thinking now, I don’t know if I have this. I’m telling you, everyone does. And it’s just very hard to be aware of because it’s subconscious. If you have lots of this, then we can start being aware of it. And you might be thinking, Yeah, this is me. If not, well, you’re in a much better position. But it is subconscious. And you’re not really going to be aware of this. But everyone has this to some extent, everyone will have some source of some extent of of internalization. One action step you can take here is the process of self compassion. And that just means being kind to yourself, really, it means accepting that you can and will make mistakes and that you’re only human. And all humans do make mistakes. You’re not perfect, and all humans are imperfect. And this keeps the shame as healthy shame. Without it leading to internalized shame. Just being kind to yourself and, you know, admitting saying things like I made a mistake, instead of leading it, leading it to get to a point where you think I am a mistake. Because internalized shame is inadequacy. This directly heals the source of the fetish. I mean, it seems a bit disconnected now, because this is quite complex. And we’re so deep in now that we’ve stopped talking about sex and fetishes altogether, just looking at the causes. So don’t forget this. Self Compassion is one way to help heal the fetish. All it means is accepting that you’re only human. Everyone suffers. Everyone has flaws. And it’s okay to not be perfect. Something I struggled with was this mindset because I had unhealthy shame. So I didn’t have this sense of being only human and having limits. I always tried to transcend that. I always tried to be perfect. Others go the opposite way. Because they don’t have healthy shame. They don’t have the sense of being human. So you can either be more than human or less than human. I mean, we’re going to get onto that in the next section. First, I want to draw your attention to this book healing the shame that binds you by John Bradshaw. This is really the best book on this subject. And if you’re going to read one book for this course, make it this. It gives so many more examples. It explains things in way more detail than I think necessary, but it’s fantastic if you want to really understand this in more detail.

Action Step: “I Feel Shame” takes back control.

Remember the difference between healthy shame and toxic shame? It’s how we deal with mistakes. Confronting shame and saying ‘I Feel Shame’ or ‘I Made A Mistake’ is healthy. But getting to the point of saying ‘I am a mistake’ is unhealthy.

Action Step: Self-Compassion: Accepting that everyone makes mistakes. To be human is to be imperfect. Toxic shame drives you to be more than human (unreasonably perfect) or subhuman (A mistake).


Normal healthy conscious shame gets converted into toxic shame (subconscious inadequacy) by a process called internalization. There are 2 main ways that this happens.

1. You Don’t Allow Yourself To Feel Shame.

When we brush aside feelings and ignore or suppress them, they don’t get dealt with in a healthy manner. Emotions naturally come and go, but when you brush them aside, they come, but never go. And they get buried in the subconscious and stick around forever.

Here’s an example. How do you feel when you indulge in this fetish? Obviously it’s pleasurable in the moment, but after that, when you’ve finished, and you’ve come back to the real world, and realised what you’ve been watching, you probably feel shame. Although, we don’t have much time to feel it, at that point our focus is just on what we’re going to do next, so we brush it aside and get on with our life.

But deep down, there are these feelings that you’ve ignored. You’ve brushed aside how you’ve felt. And that feeling gets buried in the subconscious because you never deal with that. Indulging in this fetish probably creates shame – and when you brush it aside it turns into toxic shame – a sense of inadequacy. And as you’ll remember, the fetish is caused by inadequacy too; it eroticizes those feelings. So every time you indulge in this fetish, you strengthen the cause. The fetish leads to inadequacy and inadequacy leads to the fetish. It’s a loop. And it’s one that gets worse every time. It’s a self-reinforcing shame spiral.

You can break that spiral by stopping that shame from being internalized. By allowing yourself to feel shame instead of denying it and brushing it aside, you take back control. By accepting your imperfections, you rob the shame of its power over you.

So stop brushing aside feelings, especially shame. Let them come and go naturally.

2. You Relive Shameful Memories And Dwell On Shame Experiences.

Reliving and dwelling on shaming experiences is another way to increase the sense that they’re a part of you, not just something you feel.

Everyone has bad memories involving times we felt shame. If we repeatedly go over these memories in our heads, it internalizes the sense that we are the mistake.

Here’s an example: In my school days, I remember walking into a classroom, sitting down and getting my books out, only to notice that everyone around me had gone quiet. I looked around and quickly realised that this was the wrong classroom and I had just walked in to someone else’s lesson! I got up and left to the sound of a whole room laughing at me. I felt such shame!

It’s an innocent mistake of course. It’s something that anyone could make. But over the years i’ve noticed that memory come back into my head. And each time that happens, it internalizes the shame further; I start to feel like that was not just an innocent mistake, but rather a way in which I am flawed.

Furthermore, individual experiences are never too far from each other. Usually thinking of one triggers another, and we get stuck in dwelling.

Here’s another silly example: I remember when a woman said hello to me in the street, so I said hello back. How nice of an attractive woman to say hello to me, I thought. I must look quite handsome today! It turned out she was talking to her friend. She looked at me in such a disdainful way. I felt so ashamed! Another innocent mistake – and who hasn’t replied to someone only to find out they weren’t talking to you – but when these memories are relived over and over again, they stop being innocent mistakes and become evidence for our inadequacy. All these little things form a collage of interconnected shame experiences in the brain which, when we dwell on them, only serve to internalise shame further. We come to have the sense that we are flawed, we don’t consider if that woman on the street also had experiences like that, it feels like those things are just us and we must be inadequate, instead of the healthy feeling that we make mistakes and we are only human.

ACTION: Become Mindful Of Your Thoughts.

Identify any shame-based thoughts that pop into your head. Become aware of them. These thoughts are usually either remembering a mistake you’ve made, or imagining someone in your life criticising you, or perhaps we’ll imagine someone shaming our values, culture, beliefs, or anything we stand for.

Our daydreams can be responses to that; we might spend time being angry at the imagined criticism, or defensive, or explaining why they’re wrong. Become aware of these thoughts when they happen – you’ll then have the ability to choose not to follow them. Awareness is the hardest part; when we get lost in thought, we are not aware that we’re lost in thought. Try to increase your awareness of your own thoughts. Mindfulness meditation is a very useful way to practice this skill.


Author(s) || Connor McGonigal

Website || howtostopbeingacuckold.com

Article || 2.2 Internalization

Date || Between January 27th and November 14th, 2018


tags: [“evergreen”]

contributors: ["Connor McGonigal"]

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