Experiencing a wide range of emotions is a normal and healthy part of life. Emotions can be useful and beneficial. They can help us connect with others, find meaning, set boundaries, and make changes. But there are some emotions that can feel more like a burden than a benefit. The heavy burden of negative emotions can weigh you down in ways that interfere with your ability to live the life you want. One emotion that always comes with a heavy burden is shame.
Why is Shame Such a Burden?
Shame is an emotion that is tied to how you feel about yourself. When you experience shame, you focus on your personal failings and shortcomings any time you think or act in a way that you consider wrong or immoral. According to clinical psychologist and shame researcher June Tangney, shame can make you feel powerless, worthless, and exposed. Instead of prompting you to make changes or different decisions, shame can make you want to hide, escape, or even lead to anger. Through her research, Tangney has found that "shame is not useful or protective."
The Constant Presence of Shame
The weight of shame can feel impossible to shed. If you are carrying the burden of shame you may find that both the past and the future can evoke this negative emotion. Dr. Tangney has found that people who are prone to shame will anticipate feeling the emotion when thinking about future events and then experience the shame once the event or decision actually occurs. This means that you can constantly feel the weight of shame even about events that have yet to occur.
Letting Go of the Weight
It will take some work to let go of the weight of shame. Some people can trace the beginning of their shame to a specific event, person, or time in their lives. Others may not know where the shame started, only that it seems to always be present. Doing the work to understand the source of your shame is an important first step. The second part of letting go of shame is finding new ways to deal with negative thoughts and experiences. You will always have difficulties that arise, but it is possible to approach those difficulties in ways do not cause you to feel the negative effects of shame.
If you are striving to let go of the weight of shame, it can help to have someone work with you on your journey. Shame is typically a deep-rooted emotion that follows people from childhood. It often requires the support of a licensed therapist to help identify the cause of your shame and develop alternative ways to handle difficulties. Through SonderMind, you can be matched with a licensed therapist who has training and experience working with people who are prone to feeling shame.
Shame is a heavy weight to carry. What would your life look like if you could let go of the shame that you feel? You can have a future that is not dictated by the heavy burden of shame. Releasing that weight will take work, but the work you do to let go of shame will put you on the path toward living the life you imagine.