Shame is a bewildering emotion that indicates you have feelings inside of yourself that imply
- which you may or may not successfully hide from others.
What shame actually does, is create within you, feelings that lead you to believe that you are
- a misfit
- that you are invisible,
- better off not to being here
Apart from your own feelings of
- not measuring up
- letting yourself down
- feeling you always let others down
your triggers may also come from your life situations and circumstances and other people.
This is all about expectations – yours and others, realistic & unrealistic, clear or unclear.
How many times have you gone over and over things that have happened, sometimes things that happened years ago —
- feeling stupid
- feeling that “I don’t matter,
- feeling guilty
- feeling “I am not good enough
- saying to yourself “I always screw up”
- saying “I will never get it right”
- feeling that you are being punished for something….
- You tend to go back into dark, bottomless pit of a place, a place that is so comfortable, yet isolated and desolate.
You imagine yourself to be a monster, like a living breathing disaster, knowing that it will happen again and just waiting for “the next time”.
- Everything you touch turns to a mess, goes bad, hurts others.
- It makes you want to stay inside, stop creating, stop taking risks.
- Rationally you know you are not vindictive or careless, that you are a good person, that you are helpful and kind, however this pit is not a rational place.
It’s all torture, headaches, torment, an aching pit in the gut, judgement, criticism, blame, regret, shame and a poisonous self-hate along with guilt.
Guilt and shame are often used interchangeably, as we are not taught the significant difference. Unfortunately, many people are caused to feel great shame about the way they are made to feel around something they have done that they would have been better not to have done, or wished they had done. Guilt stems from the tangible, whereas shame stems from imagined or unsupported, doubtful roots.
Shame is a feeling, yet is cloaked in mis-perceptions and misunderstandings and has no actual cause.
Guilt can have a cause, an event and the feelings come from that.
Guilt is external to you, is about others and is a result of a behavior or action and
Shame IS you because it is your feelings, – it is all about you and not about the other or situations around you.
Unfortunately, you have most likely never been taught that you are NOT your feelings – you feel them and they are useful guides to you if you can step back enough to understand this simple fact.
Shame causes you to
- devalue yourself
- devalue others
- create situations and circumstances that keep proving our worthlessness, our inadequacy, our inability to measure up and our uselessness
and will often lead you to thinking of others, or making assumptions or statements about others to help you to feel better about yourself, or to protect yourself by “getting in first”.
It does not matter where the shame comes from, and it has no cause apart from our feelings & emotions – what matters is that we can do something about it, no matter how overwhelmed you feel, no matter how hopeless or bad you feel – we can help you recover – we CAN change our feelings and emotions.
We can restore self-esteem, we can bring healthy balance and expression to the varied emotions that so often accompany shame, such as sadness, desolation, abandonment, exhaustion, anxiety, anger/rage, envy, and jealousy.
Is the shame YOURS, or have you taken responsibility for another’s perception or judgment?
Accept your feelings – they are just feelings, and can guide you if you do not place all your energy and focus on them, or own them as you. By this I mean to be very clear to state that, “I feel angry”, rather than, “I am angry”, “I feel sad, or exhausted” rather than, “I am sad or exhausted”.
So often when you own these feelings they eventually create dis-ease in your bodies and you can become very sick, and exhausted, because it takes bucket loads of energy to keep feelings fed and alive. To learn to acknowledge your feelings, let them know you are aware of them, then let the feelings go by finding something more appropriate to focus your attention and energy on will not only give your more energy, it will go a long way to restore your compromised health and free you of the burdens and pain of your life – of which you may or may not be aware of.
John Bradshaw (Healing the Shame that Binds You) explains that some forms of shame are severe and toxic. Shame can devastate the soul and cripple the psyche. It can forever preclude the experience of joy, interest, or excitement. Sometimes it drives the true self underground and into a closet. In large part due to the influence of Bradshaw’s book, shame and toxic shame have become largely synonymous.
Most people think of shame as entirely bad, therefore it is not talked about, and causes people to hide and not seek help.
Deep shame that stems from early childhood experiences of bullying and abuse – physical, emotional and sexual, neglect, and witnessing abuse and violence, affects the emotional, physical and psychological growth of the child (therefore impacts the life of the adult that child becomes) and creates patterns of thinking and beliefs about themselves, others and the world around them based on the emotional aspects discussed above.
As I mentioned earlier -it does not matter where the shame comes from – what matters is that we can do something about it, no matter how overwhelmed you feel, no matter how hopeless or bad you feel – we can help you recover. We can restore self-esteem, we can bring healthy balance and expression to the varied emotions that so often accompany shame, such as sadness, desolation, abandonment, exhaustion, anxiety, anger/rage, envy, and jealousy –
while the experiences, interpretations and perceptions of life have colored your experience and your existence and you will never be the person you would have been had this not happened,
HOWEVER you can unlearn the damaging aspects, re-frame your focus, and remove the cloak of shame around you to help you move forward out of shame and discover a new you through Self-Acceptance.