What is Shame?
Shame is an emotion resulting from feelings of personal inadequacy. Some use the terms humiliation, guilt, embarrassment and remorse when describing shame. But these terms do not adequately describe shame. Feeling ashamed is a negative emotion that shadows our ability for full expression and reinforces our belief that we are not important.
Common Symptoms of Shame:
- Desire to avoid others by burying head and disappearing
- Avoiding connecting with others by not returning phone calls, canceling dates, calling in sick
- Blaming others when you are angry or feel like you have done something wrong
- Using shaming language such as "I am such a loser, idiot, etc."
- Feeling worthless when criticized by others
- Finding temporary relief from negative feelings is alcohol, drugs, sex or food
How can Counseling/Therapy help?
Because shame is rooted in an individual's beliefs mostly surrounding childhood experiences, treatment many times involves exploring early childhood issues and their relationship with current unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. Treatment includes education, rediscovering oneself and identifying self-defeating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Ironically, sharing your negative, self-critical thoughts with another person, ideally a therapist, is one of the most effective ways to combat shame.
Think you may be struggling with shame?