Shame on you. Wow. Just notice how those three little words can ruin a good day. Feel them in your body, and observe how your physical self cringes. And yet, for every external message of shame we receive, how many more do we deliver to ourselves? In order to heal our shame, we must understand it.
And what is the impact to you, dear reader, of living with toxic shame? How often in a day do you “should” yourself, do you blame yourself for not being enough, doing enough?
What can you do? Try this: recall some recent event at which you or others recognized you did well, or a quality you appreciate and feel good about in yourself. If you can, then notice, as you replay the event or a show of this quality you like, how your body shifts. Even if only a little. Stay with it. See what happens.
(Next week, part two: Psychotherapy’s own particularly twisted contribution to shame!)