Shames impact on mental health and how to heal
Very few people understand the full effects of shame or how it can affect mental health, particularly in women. In our society, shame is used to silence women. It is a way of controlling people who don't fit in with what's considered "normal."
The word shame, for me, is interchangeable with trauma. It holds space in our bodies, affects the chemicals in our brain, and takes intention and focus to overcome.
Freedom from shame is possible.
But before we can be healed from anything, we first have to name it.
Toxic shame vs. guilt
Shame has the power to shape our lives in significant ways, leaving individuals feeling as though they will never be good enough for others or themselves.
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, shame is "a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute." It occurs when a person's values or reputation is questioned, judgment replaces empathy, and victims are silenced.
Shame is multilayered. It can be passed from one generation to another. It can be self-inflicted through comparisons, jealousy, fear of judgment, or self-criticism. Still, it is not always self-inflicted. .
Throughout history shame has been used to create social norms and maintain control over others.
The truth is that shame and guilt aren't that different from one another, except that one (guilt) moves us toward awareness and self-improvement while the other (shame) haunts and humiliates us.
Guilt focuses on the actions while shame judges the self.
It is normal to feel ashamed of a bad decision that you then learn from and move on. However, it is not healthy to carry that shame with you and internalize the belief that one wrong decision or a traumatic moment you had no control over makes you evil, unloveable, or unworthy. Let that go!
If you have people in your life who are constantly shaming you, it's time to move on from them as well. Instead, surround yourself with those who accept that you are a beautiful human being, unique and worthy of love.
Start by loving yourself!
The effects of shame on mental health
Mental health is a hot topic these days. It's rampant in our society, so much so that corporations are working to destigmatize the conversation. Why? Because they've learned poor mental health negatively impacts employee productivity.
Feelings of worthlessness affect our ability to function at our best, make it hard to get out of bed, and even harder to be around co-workers who might judge us if we were really honest about how we feel. So it's about time companies stepped up, even if it did take emphasizing the bottom line to make it happen.
Shame tells us we are not enough and that we don't deserve good things. It isolates, communicates worthlessness, and humiliates. It is a mental health issue that can lead to eating disorders, self-injury, depression, and anxiety.
It's hard to feel at peace when our mental health is constantly under attack from external and internal voices.
Strategies to help you let go of shame
In my own life, I've found the number one strategy for letting go of shame is forgiveness: forgiveness for myself and to those who have shamed me.
Meditation and Svaroopa Yoga have also been key to my healing journey.
Svaroopa yoga is a type of Hatha yoga developed and trademarked by Swami Nirmanalanda Saraswati. It is a consciousness and healing-oriented style of yoga that focuses on opening the spine and letting go of tension and stored emotions in the body.
Other strategies to incorporate include journaling, self-help books, and finding mentors that you trust.
Don't stop there, though. Keep pushing boundaries and challenging yourself to be more loving, compassionate, and kind to you!