Last Thursday November 10th, we were treated to Abigail’s most recent presentation “ Toxic Shame Cycle “
At tonight’s presentation, Abigail wanted to share with us a topic that affected the path of her mental health journey a lot. Her topic tonight was shame. She started out by identifying what shame is, and how it affects those of us with mental health challenges. A word that’s usually associated with shame is Guilt. She shared that guilt is usually based around an action, and feeling remorse for something you did wrong. Shame can also be a feeling that you are bad or inadequate.
Abigail shared that shame is really common among people that struggle with mental health challenges. Shame can also be prevalent in trauma survivors and also in children who have experienced abuse and neglect. She advised children start to feel shame at about 18 months old. And the reason children who experience abuse and neglect are so prone to shame is is that children’s brains are egocentric. This meaning that from the time people are babies to around 7 years old, young children only see everything as it relates to their experience.
Abigail did share with us that she really wanted to cover this topic, as it is the biggest thing that prevented or slowed her mental health recovery when she was in her teens and early 20’s.
So, how do we heal from toxic shame?
1) acknowledge our thoughts…if we want to heal from it, we have to acknowledge it. It’s important that we do this in a non-judgmental way.
2) recognize your triggers…..more than likely certain people or places cause you to feel shame. So, you need to do the work of recognizing your triggers, and learn to either avoid these triggers or build coping strategies to handle them.
3) challenge and reframe your thoughts…shame can feel pretty intense, and may cause you to react. Try questioning your thoughts before they get too extreme. Ever heard the phrase “ feelings aren’t facts “ ? If you’re feeling shameful or inadequate, try to acknowledge that you are feeling inadequate and try to determine the reason why.
4) practice compassion…practicing compassion involves loving yourself. And accepting love and kindness from others. The more we practice this, the more likely it will be that we heal from toxic shaming. Try by writing a list of your best qualities, and make sure and practice self-care that makes sense to you.
5) reach out…connection is a vital part of shame resilience. It helps us to feel valued and accepted. Shame usually thrives when we are feeling most alone. When separation from others is removed or lessened, that feeling of shame loses it’s power over us.
Make sure and reach out to others. You can practice this by joining us at our weekly DBSA meetings!