Holding onto Shame

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Living with addiction means we’re often holding onto many years’ worth of suppressed emotions. One of the most destructive and debilitating emotions that we hold onto is shame. We all make mistakes and have regrets that we feel ashamed about. This universal reality is simply a part of human nature. Some people are able to forgive themselves and see themselves with compassion and understanding. They are able to view their mistakes as part of their learning process. They don’t choose to beat themselves up and cause themselves extraneous suffering for past mistakes. Many of us on the other hand can’t seem to let go of our shame. We cling stubbornly to the idea that we’re horrible people. We see ourselves as monsters, as sick, as unworthy of love and forgiveness. Holding onto shame can have disastrous effects on our wellbeing.

Sometimes it is our deep shame that is fueling our addictions in the first place. Very often we misinterpret our traumatic experiences to be evidence of our shamefulness and immorality. We blame ourselves and think of ourselves as unlovable. These feelings of self-blame and self-deprecation are extremely painful, and in order to avoid feeling them, we turn to addictive substances and behaviors. Our shame gets buried deep within us, under layers of toxic thought patterns and behavioral cycles, but we still feel it lingering inside of us, no matter how much we try to avoid thinking about it. Shame taints our entire self-perception and self-image. We start to see ourselves not for who we really are but for who we fear ourselves to be, shameful and unforgivable.

Just as shame can fuel our addictions, it can contribute to our depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Our lack of self-acceptance and self-love bring us down. We judge ourselves harshly. We criticize ourselves endlessly. We take every opportunity to disparage ourselves. We self-harm. Our self-destructive behavior can often be attributed to our unresolved feelings of shame. Sometimes we feel so low and so self-hating that we lose our motivation in life and our will to live. Our shame can be a driving force behind our suicidal thoughts, ideation and attempts. We feel so ashamed that we think we don’t deserve to live, that we’re a burden to the people in our lives, that the world is better off without us in it. Shame is a painful weight to carry. Until we work to heal from it, we set ourselves up for continued cycles of addiction and emotional suffering.

Riverside Recovery offers multiple forms of therapy to help you heal from the painful emotional issues we all share. Call us today at (800) 871-5440.