How to STOP Shame Spiral-Am I a BAD person?-Shame Vs Guilt


Okay, this is important but it's pretty straightforward. When you make a mistake, you have two choices, shame or guilt. So let's say you hurt someone you really care about guilt says, oh, what I did was wrong, I made a mistake. Shame says I am a mistake. There's something wrong with me. 

So let's say you flirt with your ex on the Internet while you're in a committed relationship, your girlfriend finds out you have a huge fight. In this case, shame doesn't look like dropping your head. It looks like a hot shame. 

Maybe you scream and yell about what she does wrong too. You blame her for snooping, for being over sensitive, for overreacting, and then storm out of the apartment and drive off. 

But as you do deep down, feel like a loser. You'll never be lovable because you're such an f up. You don't want to see anyone. You don't want to talk to anyone because you're ashamed of what you did. Or you know that you'll never be happy because you screw up so much. 

And then you head to the bar to be alone and drown your pain. This is a shame response. Shame says you're a complete, screw up and you'll never have a good relationship. 

Guilt says I messed up. I need to fix this. Now deep down, you know, you messed up deep down, you value being honest, being faithful. And you know what you did was wrong. So let's imagine this conversation, goes differently. 

Your girlfriend catches you flirting with other girls on the Internet. What would honestly facing your guilt look like? maybe saying something? Like, I messed up. I'm so sorry. I'm gonna fix this. I'm going to keep learning and get help so I can figure out how to stop doing this. Can we go to therapy together? How have I hurt you? Let me validate how awful this must feel for you. Now, this isn't manipulation. 

This shouldn't be manipulation. It should be taking responsibility. Remember how pure emotions serve a function? The emotion of guilt can be motivating. It motivates us to make repairs. I will apologize. I will change. I'll try not to do this again. 

The lie of shame tells you that your behavior is a permanent identity. I'm just a failure, I'll never be lovable. Shame is paralyzing because it distorts reality, and it tells you that what you did wrong comes from some unchangeable aspect of yourself. That you're broken and defective that you're damaged beyond repair.

 Shame leads to defensiveness, trying to cover up what you've done, or just giving up. Shame is a very subtle form of avoidance. It's your super-smart brain trying to squirm its way out of responsibility, by saying that you had no choice because you're just a bad person. 

But shame is a lie, it's a distortion shame can lead to self-punishment, withdrawal blowing up relationships, and destructive behaviors, like drug use. On the other hand guilt, and I'm not talking about exaggerated guilt due to impossible standards, but honest guilt can actually help improve relationships. 

For an addictive recovery, feeling guilt can be assigned that you're going through a healthy recovery process, by owning your behaviors and trying to change them.

 Okay, let's do another example. Let's say you're the manager of a marketing team and you've got some serious challenges coming up. You’re under a lot of pressure from upper management to get performance.

 So in a meeting find out that one of your team didn't complete the task they were supposed to and you just lose it. You blow up at them; you chew them out in public. Everyone goes quiet. The meeting goes stale. You tell everyone to get back to work and to get their jobs done. 

Then you head back to your office and, you know, you messed up. Shame says you’re just never successful.

No one likes you because you're such an idiot. You couldn't you keep your cool and handle it like Bob does. Everyone likes him? Because he doesn't get so uptight Shame says you should just quit or change jobs or just stop trying to have a good relationship and rule like a tyrant.

Shame's message is you're just not a good person. So you might as well stop trying and withdraw. Guilt would say Dang I messed up. I need to apologize and then you need to try to make repairs. You work on yourself, apologize, manage your stress 

better. Set better boundaries; use more clear, expectations and outcomes when people don't perform as expected. 

Now, can you see how taking responsibility is so much work compared to shame? Shame feels like self-righteous. Self-punishment. It feels a little vindicating, but it's really just a sneaky way to evade responsibility for your actions. For the work, it takes to make repairs. 

And shame leads to lost opportunities, cutting yourself off from others, drug use to numb, the pain, it leads to low self-esteem and in general, just not growing. It's just wallowing in a pool of self-loathing. 

So what to do? here are three steps to letting go of shame, 

1. Learn To Identify It, Face It And Take Responsibility.

 So first get good at recognizing shame story in your life. What does the shame sound like for you?  Maybe write down the way, you talk to yourself when you shift to shame, and then catch yourself doing it. When you catch yourself shaming yourself, say that's shame. That's a lie. 

2. Face it -Shame dies in sunlight. 

So just like bacteria is killed by sunlight, shame dissipates when you look it in the eye. Face your shame directly say it out loud. Shame is telling me I'm a terrible person. It may help to tell someone about it. They can help you see through the lies shame tells you.

 This is one of the most powerful aspects of therapy. Telling someone about the things you are ashamed of, and learning that the shame isn’t truthful. That it's not your fault that you're abused. That you're not a terrible human being.

 Maybe you just have some things to work on. Okay. Then check yourself for responsibility. If you think you're a terrible person, what kind of person do you want to be? A Patient boss? A Faithful Partner? 

These characteristics speak to your values. A value is a direction, not an outcome. A value is something you can always take action on, in the present moment. You can always strive to be a little closer to your values. 

So take responsibility for your actions. When you do mess up which we all do. Let the beautiful but uncomfortable emotion of honest guilt serve its function. Let it motivate you to do the hard thing.

Admit your mistake try to make repairs, see what you can learn so you don't do it again. But don't get sucked into the shame hole. Where you just spiral around, feeling like crap. But not fixing anything. Okay, you are not broken. You are not bad. You are not irreparable. Don't let yourself believe Shame lies... I hope this was helpful. Thank reading(watching).

No comments