Shame – are you feeling it?
For this month’s blog I have invited a dear friend Sam to talk about her experience….
Guest post by Samantha Houghton
Shame is an insidious body of emotion that allows us to feel an overwhelming negativity about ourselves as a person to the level that we believe we are fundamentally flawed and that we are a bad person that needs to hide away from the world and the people in it.
It can be triggered by a life circumstance, environment or by another person but also by the standards we have personally set for ourselves and have “failed” to meet. Shame harbours feelings of unworthiness, regret, of not “feeling good enough” and of being “a bad person”. These circumstances can be real or made up in your mind as anxiety around the shame triggers the exaggerated feelings. By feeling, we are flawed in some way impacts our lives in so many ways and it can affect every decision that is made. For example, a person who has a birthmark on their face, they remember how they were bullied at school leading to them feeling incredibly self-conscious about themselves as a person and their appearance. Their lack of confidence that has built up over time has started to affect their beliefs, some imaginary factors included. They may assume that each person they come across in life will treat them the same way, therefore they gradually withdraw further and further, until leaving the house becomes such a big issue as their own self unworthy thoughts take over. This all started from being bullied at school which was the only truthful part of this experience when examined. It’s important to break it down and look at what’s really going on.
Feelings of guilt are often linked in with shame and can be confused. If we believe we are or have done something to feel ashamed about then we are likely to feel guilt, that negative feeling of remorse for something we believe we have done wrong. Then when we feel guilty it can become a self-perpetuating circle as we are less likely to admit it to ourselves and certainly with others, so we keep the feelings a secret. It all intensifies and before you know it, you are caught up and locked into a cycle. You are likely to have many triggers that stir up these feelings to relive it over and over again and the inner anger towards yourself and possibly towards others builds up. It ends up chipping away at your self-esteem and confidence and the overall view of yourself and of the world.
I know this all too well after spending forty years of my life feeling intense shame, guilt and anger towards myself and others. Some of my shame was projected onto me by others and some of it was fabricated by myself, unintentionally, as I’ve described above. However, it grew and grew until it was a huge obstacle holding me back in life. I hated myself due to these firmly held beliefs and used different forms of self-abuse to punish myself.
Eventually, I recognised my cycle, I’d had enough and felt that I deserved a different me and a different life. I wrote my book “The Invisible Girl: A Secret Life” which shares this life in great detail, as after freeing myself, I had a huge desire to inspire others to do the same.
You can find the book here:
Thank you for listening – Sam x