Shame is the painful feeling from something dishonorable improper done by oneself or by another. Shame produces a feeling of “I am bad”. When we believe we are a bad person, we internalize negative messages. This can lead to feelings of overwhelm which keep us from problem solving daily issues. Therefore, we remain stuck in toxic behavior patterns.
When you feel shame, you have a higher risk for addiction.
Learn to unload your shame. Start by becoming aware of your internal negative messages. Replace them with positive affirmations. Keep a journal, read a daily devotional on loving oneself, or say positive messages in the mirror. It is important to understand the difference between feeling guilty and feeling shameful. Guilt is about our behavior during a particular situation, such as hurtful words said during an argument or being late for work because of a hangover.
These are behaviors we can correct moving forward in our everyday life. Shame is feeling badly about who we are, and telling ourselves we are a bad person because of what we’ve done. When we feel shame to the core of who we are, it is difficult to overcome even small daily obstacles. Often, behavior is repeated, and we are unable to move forward. We eventually think of ourselves as defective and unworthy, putting too much value on what others think of us.
Detach from unhealthy people. Since we can only change ourselves, we must stop expecting healthy behavior from unhealthy people, including family. Our family does NOT have to change in order for us to be ok. It is a waste of energy to expect something from someone who is unable to give it.
There are remedies to unloading our shame. First, empathize with others. This helps us feel connected on a deep level with another who is sharing their story. Individuals who are able to give and receive empathy are capable of guarding themselves from shame. Next, ask for what we need and want. No one can read our minds. We must communicate specifically and not generalize so we may feel understood. Our needs are just as important as someone else’s.
An addicted person is a good person who has made bad choices. We can break the generational shame cycle by raising our children to believe they are essentially good. We will all sometimes have bad behavior that needs correcting, and then we must move forward.