So much of what I write is a daily self-reflection of what I’m working through at the moment. I’ve struggled my entire life with being judgemental, not of others, but of myself. My inner critic can still be vicious… and after many years of therapy, I’ve learned that this inner voice isn’t my own but that of my judgmental mother. From years of childhood trauma resulting in complex trauma (CPTSD).
Her negative attitude and negative lessons are on repeat, like a broken record that I can’t turn off. When I go into default mode, I find myself saying things like:
“I’m getting so fat.”
“My legs are gross.”
“Why do I talk so much?”
“I’ll never actually succeed.”
“People don’t actually want to be around me; they spend time with me out of pity.”
“Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up!”
“This is all my fault.”
Shame is at the core of all of these thoughts. Not my shame. Hers.
My mother gave me her shame instead of learning how to break the cycle. I am taking a stand to break the cycle. I will not pass these thoughts/ideas/attitudes to my daughter.
She deserves better.
I deserved better.
Shame is a complex and powerful emotion that involves a deep sense of personal inadequacy, unworthiness, or disgrace. It often comes with feelings of embarrassment, humiliation, and a desire to hide or withdraw from others.
“I don’t even deserve to take up space.”
This is a core thought for me that I still work on. THIS is how damaging complex trauma can be. Don’t discount your experience.
Take the ACE quiz to see how childhood experiences could be impacting your life.
Shame is more than external actions; it targets one’s core identity and self-worth. It can be triggered by real but more often perceived flaws, mistakes, or vulnerabilities, causing you to feel flawed or defective at your core.
Shame has profound effects on your emotional well-being, relationships, and self-esteem. It can lead to self-isolation and a constant fear of judgment or rejection from others. You also can struggle with self-acceptance and self-compassion, which is, ironically, key to healing from complex trauma.
Understanding and addressing shame is essential for emotional healing and growth. It means recognizing and challenging the distorted beliefs and narratives that contribute to feelings of shame, practicing self-compassion, seeking support from others, and cultivating a sense of self-worth independent of external validation.
I have been on the journey of understanding shame more and how it has impacted my entire life. From relationships, careers, and even my physical health, shame has taken a toll.
When shame becomes too much, I shut down and feel like giving up. The emotional flooding becomes too overwhelming. I’ve learned to use my emotional coping tools to help these moments pass more quickly. Remember, healing complex trauma isn’t linear and difficult emotions don’t just go away. Healing means becoming more resilient and learning how to bounce back more quickly.
Some emotional healing tools that help me cope with shame:
» EFT (Tapping)
EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques, also known as “tapping.” It is a therapeutic approach that combines elements of traditional psychology and acupressure. EFT is based on the concept that emotional distress is caused by disruptions in the body’s energy system and can be alleviated by tapping specific acupressure points.
The technique involves tapping with your fingertips on specific meridian points on the body while focusing on the emotional issue or problem you want to address. The primary tapping points include the top of the head, eyebrow, side of the eye, under the eye, the nose, chin, collarbone, under your arm, and the karate chop point on the side of the hand.
» EMDR Therapy
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is a specialized form of psychotherapy that is primarily used to help individuals process and heal from traumatic experiences.
EMDR has been incredibly beneficial in my journey in healing complex trauma and PTSD from childhood trauma.
Re-framing refers to changing or shifting how you interpret a situation, event, or experience. It involves looking at a situation from a different perspective and/or altering its meaning to give you a more positive, neutral, or even more constructive outlook.
Here are some examples of shaming thoughts that you can re-frame:
• I am awful at this; I can’t do it >>>
• I am learning a new skill; no one is perfect when they first start.
• I am so annoying; why would anyone want to be around me? >>>
• I am a kind and caring person; people choose to be around me because they enjoy my company.
• Why can’t I be more like other women? Put together and not a hot mess? >>> I am doing my best each day. Everyone has struggles, even those that seem perfect.
• I don’t deserve anything more. >>> I am a deserving human being, just like anyone else.
• I shouldn’t ask for XYZ because that would be selfish >>> Asking to have my needs met is a basic human right. As long as I’m not harming others, I deserve to feel safe and comfortable in my environment.
• I am so fat and gross >>> My body has brought life into this world and has supported me through many years of challenges. I appreciate that my body keeps persevering through it all.
If you struggle with thoughts like these, too, just know you aren’t alone.
Also, please know that you can heal. While shame is a natural human emotion, just like anything else, moderation is important. Being exposed to excessive shame at a young age has skewed your perspective of yourself and how you show up in the world. Don’t give up challenging these beliefs to live the life you deserve.
Looking for more emotional coping tools to help on your journey to healing from complex trauma? Download your free copy of Breaking Free from the Past.