Feeling shame occasionally is a normal part of life, but regularly experiencing self-shame can harm mental health and damage relationships. Internalized shame can also lead to coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or compulsive behavior. It is important to learn how to manage and deal with shame to improve overall well-being.
Self-shaming is a feeling of inadequacy and undeserving of love. It is different from guilt, which is feeling bad about a specific action, while shame is an overall feeling of being wrong. Self-shaming can be harmful, as it reinforces negative messages and can make it hard to love oneself and others. It can also lead to substance abuse and compulsive behavior. It can be caused by traumatic events such as abuse or neglect, and those experiences can carry into adulthood. It can also lead to being in abusive relationships. It is important to address and work through underlying shame to improve overall well-being.
Signs of self-shaming
Shame can manifest differently in people, with men tending to "act out" and take their feelings of inadequacy out on others, while women tend to internalize feelings of inadequacy and "act in" through substance abuse, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or suicide attempts. Symptoms of shame include wanting to disappear, lashing out at others, blaming oneself for everything, addiction, and self-harm. These expressions of self-shame can harm the person experiencing it, as well as their loved ones, and can also lead to the destruction of relationships. People who experience shame symptoms may use poor coping mechanisms and it's often a reaction to inner pain.
Dealing with self-shaming
Many people find relief from the negative effects of shame by seeking therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of counseling aims to change negative thought patterns and redirect a person's reactions to stressors, the environment, and everyday life. Trust and a strong therapist-patient relationship are crucial for working through difficult feelings and thoughts. It's normal for it to take time to find the right therapist, and it's important to find a therapist that you trust and feel comfortable with. Alongside addressing underlying causes of shame, such as past hurt, abuse, or trauma, some expressions of shame require specialized treatment. For example, people who express shame through anger may benefit from anger management classes, while people who struggle with self-harm and addiction may require medical treatment.
Feeling ashamed is a common emotion, but when it becomes excessive and starts to affect one's daily life, self-harm, or harm to others, it may require professional help. Through therapy and self-reflection, it is possible to break the cycle of shame and learn to have a positive self-image. However, this requires commitment and the support of a trusted therapist.