Transformational Talk ... a column by Penelope Young Andrade
Do You Suffer from Shame Attacks?
April 06, 2018 -Penelope Y. Andrade
Do you suffer from shame attacks? Some shame is useful…e.g. when you do something out of line with your own values, shame helps you get back on track. Other shame is toxic and threatens your essential being…like when you collapse into profound unworthiness as a result of unreasonable expectations from yourself or others (you should be perfect), false judgments (sexual or revenge fantasies are bad), or ignorance (homosexuality is a choice). Recovering from a shame attack is tricky because toxic shame is often immobilizing and numbing…you may feel like you’re dying! Finding your way to the healing emotion that lies beneath shame is a real challenge.
Here’s the tip. First, find some compassion fast! Seek out a loving, nonjudgmental friend and share your shameful experience. If they are a true friend, they will reveal a shameful moment from their own life to help undo your aloneness. When no one is available, recall a memory of someone who accepted you, seek a spiritual counselor, or evoke the tenderness of your own higher self. If you can’t find compassion anywhere, get professional help asap.
Once you feel safe and alive again, scan for shaming messages that are stuck in your brain and see where they came from (you weren’t born ashamed!) Notice how you feel toward the person(s) who delivered them. Check inside for sad, mad or scared feelings. Stay in your body. Look especially for healthy anger. Allow emotion to move briefly through your experience. Breathe. Wait for the warm, calm energy that accompanies brief, embodied emotion. You are okay. You deserve love and acceptance… always.