Shame, Shame, You Know Your Name

Most  people who struggle with feelings of shame wear it like a thick blanket. It has been with them for so long, they don’t know what life is like without it. Shame creates a lot of problems in our lives. This is particularly true in self-care. Shame leads us to sabotage ourselves and leave us with even more shame. It is ever present in the emotional eating cycle. When we are triggered for emotional eating, we have judgmental thoughts about ourselves which leads to uncomfortable emotions like shame. We act out with emotional eating because we have engaged in this cycle so many times, we feel hopeless and helpless to change our pattern. Then we feel even more shame which leads us right back into the emotional eating cycle again. Where does all this shame come from and what exactly is shame? Let’s start with the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is focused on action. We feel guilt when we have acted inappropriately in ways that aren’t in line with our values or or society’s rules for behavior. Shame is when we believe we are bad people because of things we have done or imagined we have done. When we have a history of trauma, shame tends to come from a warped sense of responsibility for things that we have no part in feeling responsibility. In sexual abuse situations, for example, many victims are told that the abuse was their fault. This is how perpetrators alleviate their own responsibility. By blaming the victim, they don’t have to look at their actions. That child then grows up believing they are responsible for the terrible things that happened to them and they feel like a bad person. Since they believe this, they also tend to take responsibility for other bad things that happen in which they are not responsible. Sexual abuse is an extreme example of how this pattern comes to be. We develop a false sense of shame through many experiences. Shame leads people to bear the weight of the world and feel responsible for everything outside of their control. It leads them to believe they are bad people, unworthy, unlovable. I see this play out with emotional eating and self-sabotage every day. It is time to break the shame cycle people! Stop taking owning the garbage that doesn’t belong to you. Get the support you need to let go of these beliefs about yourself. You deserve to be happy, feel lovable and worthwhile!

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.

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