to humiliate myself & let others

PREVIOUS: Humiliation – Part 1

SITE: “” (Beyond Intractability)

QUOTE :“…. It is a pervasive and all too destructive influence in the behavior of individuals, groups, organizations, and nations.”  ~ Donald Klein, author of ‘The Humiliation Dynamic: Viewing the Task of Prevention’

2. INTERNAL Source: Self-humiliation
Being put down always comes from outside, being done TO someone, & is NOT OK with most victims.
However, if you were continually humiliated as a child – at school, in the playground, but especially at home, you came to believe you deserved it, and it’s the way you should always be treated. Even though it makes you feel angry, sad, lonely, hopeless…. and maybe consciously you don’t think it’s right or fair – you’ve internalize the mistreatment (of course) & will act it out in many, or all, parts of your life. This becomes our Bad Parent voice – absorbed as the Introject.

• For ACoAs, being humiliated is experienced as : “You’re attacking my feeling shameHumiliation very essence, & it seems to make enough sense that I’m doubting my own worth, & so I feel shame”.   It represents a lack of self-respect – not regarding our qualities or actions, but about the core of our being – saying we have no value. Without ‘serious’ help to understand & deal with it, we assume that it’s the norm for us – perpetuating our degredation, & finding others who will also reinforce the original pattern.

SHAME is internal. Is an emotional response to an insult to our Self. As we can only FEEL humiliated if we agree with what is said or done to us, either because of being a child, or being an adult with low self-worth. When we’re insecure about our rights & our value, we’re more prone to feel shame when disrespected, because we give too much weight to what others think of us than to what they think of ourselves.
NOTE: Feeling ashamed is from us. ‘Being shamed’ is the same things as ‘being humiliated’ – & is from others.

WAYS of behaving out of Self-Hate which humiliate, belittle, disrespect, shame ourselves (add your own):
● an adult always acting or sounding like a child (childish / immature)

● ‘chasing’ anyone who is just not interested or definitely unavailable, &/or something unrealistic, not appropriate…
● acting out in various ways, public drunkenness, lewdness, fighting
● always grabbing the spotlight, being arrogant, showing off
● being sexually inappropriate, promiscuous
● being inappropriate in a particular setting (you’re actions / language may be suited to another venue, but not the one you’ve chosen)
● dating people who neglect & abuse you

● justifying or over-explaining yourself
● making a fool of yourself, for attention, from rage or arrogance
● not having or using common sense
● not ‘letting go’, not accepting realitytalking too much
● talking trash, over-using sexual innuendos
● trying to do the impossible, punishing self or letting other punish us for making mistakes
● telling everyone your personal business / all of your flaws / dumping problems inappropriately
● trying to convince a narcissist of your point of view, or that you’re right & they’re wrong

For more background on this version of humiliation, review posts:
Self-Hate & ACoAs / Our Wounded Inner Child / Over-controlling Ourselves / Toxic Family RULES / What is Emotional Abuse?

3. RESULTS of being humiliated
Donald C. Klein in “The Humiliation Dynamic,” points out that being disrespected can cause some people to become consumed by their wounded pride, producing ‘humiliated fury’
• Even if the humiliation is not intentional, as from a misunderstanding, the consequences can be severe, ranging from interpersonal conflict to international terrorism. Author Evelin Lindner calls it the “nuclear bomb of emotions.”

In 2 studies (PubMed), students were subjected to shameful events every day for 2 weeks. They reported their resulting feelings of anger, also pointing out class-mates who got angry. Narcissism was treated as a potential factor in their reactions. As predicted, shameful events made children angry – especially boys with high narcissism scores. These results validate clinical theory that shaming events can trigger ‘humiliated fury’.humiliation depression

• When turned inward this fury can result in depression & apathy. The accompanying S-H prevents someone from being able to meet their own needs, let alone have energy available to love and care for others.
• When turned outward it can generate paranoia & revenge fantasies, which can lead to sadistic behavior. Humiliated fury unfortunately creates additional victims, often including innocent bystanders.

Some consequences
People in power use humiliation as a form of social control & oppression. The fear of humiliation can be a powerful motivator for taking actions – sometime positive (to prove ‘they’re wrong’), but more often negative.
• Humiliation (internal or external) has been linked to abuse (to self or others), academic failure, delinquency, depression, discrimination, learned helplessness, low self-esteem, marital conflict, social disruption, social isolation, under-achievement, torture – even death.

1. Decide if the humiliating comment or action that does not – in reality – diminish your self-image, decrease your position, or tarnish your public face / reputation. OR
2. If the event does harm you socially (there has to be a concrete result) – but not your self-esteem – what can you do to repair the situation? Use any positive help you can find. ORtime to evaluate
3. Does the humiliation feel so familiar that you believe it? It’s IMP to identify why specific comments / actions hurt you:
• How does it echo your childhood?
• What loss (realistic or emotion-based) does it represent to you? (of self-esteem, of connection, of social opportunities, of financial benefit….)
• What do you need to do – if anything – to counter it?

Possible Solutions to being humiliated:
• If possible, talk to the offender (from the Adult ego state) & ask for the behavior to stop
• If they will not respond favorably, leave the degrading environment and find a more appreciative one, when possible. OR
• If ‘trapped’, even temporarily, with an abuser (bully, controller, sadist, manipulator…) you can re-frame the painful experiences in some way that acknowledges your strength and ability to cope. Most importantly – do not take it personally. This increases self-confidence & diminishes the damaging effects & fear of humiliation.

Being humiliated, by oneself or others, is NEVER justified!

NEXT: Arrogance vs Humility (Part 1)


4 thoughts on “ACoAs & HUMILIATION (Part 2)

  1. Thank you
    This is great Information
    I certainly identify

    Humiliation is never justified but we also cannot control people Step 1 Alanon
    Other people’s opinions of us are none of our business

    When we let go the universe seems to work just fine

    Don’t react, that’s the key
    And be good to ourselves and know who we are.


  2. I related to this post A LOT. If there is one word to describe how I most often felt around my mom growing up, it is humiliated – in many small ways and sometimes big ways. It is also a description of how I am treated by management at work. It is wrong when I am treated this way (undeserved).


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