The tool, the gift, that I discovered when I was willing to start asking for help was the Twelve Steps. The Twelve Step Recovery program that was developed by Alcoholics Anonymous is a work of mystical Spirituality. It is a formula for integrating Spiritual Truth into day to day human life.
One of those principles - that really scared me when I first heard I had to develop it - was humility. I equated humility with humiliation because of my toxic shame.
In Truth, humility really means to see clearly. To see that as a human being the reality is that I am not perfect. There are some areas I am strong in - that I have gifts, abilities, talents, skills - and some that I am weak in. None of us human beings are perfect in our humanness - we are all perfect in our Spiritual essence.
One person will be talented in one area but weak in another. Because we got the message in childhood that we were supposed to be perfect, that it was shameful to be 'wrong' - and we were taught to look outside and compare ourselves to determine our worth - we focused on our strengths as proof we were better than others. Which also meant we needed to deny our weaknesses - or deny that the areas in which we were weak had any importance. Humility is about owning both our strengths and our weaknesses - and realizing that all human beings have both strengths and weaknesses.
We were taught to have ego-strength through judgment - better than, prettier than, smarter than, richer than, stronger than, etc., etc.
In a Codependent society everyone has to have someone to look down on in order to feel positive about him/herself. This is the root of all bigotry, racism, sexism, and prejudice in the world.
True self-worth does not come from looking down on anyone or anything. True self-worth comes from awakening to our connection to everyone and everything.
The Truth is that we are like snowflakes: Each individual is unique and different and special and we are all made from the same thing. We are all cut from the same cloth. We are all part of the Eternal ONENESS that is the Great Spirit.
When we start looking within and celebrating the Truth of who we Truly are, then we can celebrate our unique differences instead of judging them out of fear."
When I started to open up to the concept that there was a Higher Power who Loved me Unconditionally, then I could start getting past the shame to seeing the gray area. Then I could start to stop reacting out of the black and white, fear based programming of my damaged ego.
When I started to be open to seeing myself more clearly, then I could start to see that I had more in common with other human beings than I had differences. Then I could start to see that thinking I was better than someone else because of a gift is false pride. A gift is just that - a gift. Talent, intelligence, looks - those are gifts to be cherished and cultivated, not standards for feeling better than another human being.
Through working the twelve step program, I could start to understand that every cloud has a silver lining. (I just flashed on my mother in childhood telling me that every curse is also a blessing - in regard to my emotional sensitivity I believe. We do hear messages of Spiritual Truth from early on - it is applying them to our lives that we need some help figuring out how to do.) A gift also carries obligations with it. Though feeling pride about a gift was false - what I could take pride in was the action I took to cultivate that gift. (Which of course I had not done in some cases because of the black and white thinking and toxic shame - I was afraid to take a risk because I was sure I would fail. Another thing to realize I was powerless over and forgive myself for.)
Through starting to see myself more clearly - by stopping with the shame of self and judgment of others to protect myself from that shame - then I could more easily see that we were more alike than different. Then I could start to be open to believing that maybe I had worth and deserved Love - and that you did also.
Feeling shameful and reacting to life from fear, caused me to focus on how I was different (and better, or worse) than you. The more I could start to see that I am not perfect and that it is OK - the more I could access the acceptance to allow you to not be perfect.
That helped me to stop taking other peoples behavior so personally. When I started understanding how I had been reacting - started seeing myself more clearly and accepting reality, I could also start seeing that what you were doing was not really about me, it was you reacting to your wounds.
The more clearly I saw myself within the framework of a Spiritual recovery process, the easier it became to see that I had not been seeing myself or you clearly - or life.