If you often feel SHAME and guilt about yourself for no reason, then this video is going to explain why.
It’s my belief that at the core of many people’s social anxiety (not everyone’s) is an emotion called toxic shame.
Here’s what I talk about in this video:
The difference between shame and toxic shame.
Shame is the feeling someone gets when they’ve done something wrong. It passes quickly and is often a healthy emotion to have once in a while.
Toxic shame is different. It’s not shame about something you did, it’s shame about yourself. Self-shame in other words. Someone who has this often feels flawed, defective, inferior and unworthy of acceptance, love and belonging.
Toxic shame is extremely unhealthy and destructive. It can force you to isolate yourself from other people, it can make you spiral down into depression, it can lead to addictive behaviors, and it’s even dangerous to your physical health! (Studies have found that constant mental stress leads to cardiac problems and can suppress your immune system.)
The Symptoms of Toxic Shame
When you feel like you are inherently bad or flawed, then it only makes sense that you don’t want other people to see you. Because they will only reject you, right? So toxic shame causes you to avoid people and hide away, like I did in my first year of university.
You also hide your true thoughts and feelings from people. It’s another way of hiding your “flawed self” to avoid other people’s judgement and rejection. Hiding your thoughts can lead to feeling like you have a “blank mind” and nothing to say in social situations.
Hiding makes it EXTREMELY difficult to form close connections or relationships with people.
2. Reliving Embarrassing Memories
Toxic shame also affects your attention. It makes you randomly remember humiliating moments and embarrassing situations from months or years ago. This is one way that shame reinforces itself over years. When you have shame, it can be almost impossible to simply stop these thoughts from popping up and making you feel like sh*t about yourself for no reason.
3. Physical Insecurities
Shame biases your attention, and it makes you focus on all your little flaws and shortcomings more. Back when I had really bad social anxiety, there were a few insecurities I would always be obsessing over.
My slightly crooked teeth are one example. I would always be trying to hide them from people by not smiling or even talking. I always checked how they looked when I passed by a mirror, etc.
Recognize that your thoughts are being formed by your shame.
When you have toxic shame, you sometimes have one or more “dirty secrets” that other people would instantly reject you for if they found out.
These types of secrets can be anything, from sexual fetishes to something you did in the past.
TIP: Keep in mind that you are not the only person with personal secrets or shortcomings. We assume our problems are unique when in fact it’s impossible to meet ALL social standards for how life is supposed to be. You’ll never measure up to perfection.
Hope this was useful. If you could relate to what I talked about here, then the good news is that there is hope for you! Toxic shame is possible to overcome. Not always easy, but there are specific exercises and steps you can take to stop feeling this way for the rest of your life.
The opposite of toxic shame is the feeling of “I am enough.” This means feeling like people can like and accept you just for you. It’s a feeling of freedom where you feel like no matter what you say or do people will still like you. This makes socializing and forming friendships and connections easy.
Stay tuned for future updates,