If you are feeling this way, know that you are not alone. Shame can feel like a second skin. Shame is an intense emotion that can be deeply rooted in our sense of self-worth. Like the evil twin of rose-colored glasses, shame colors your world in shades of negativity and self-doubt. You may not always notice the insidious thoughts you tell yourself, but nonetheless, these thoughts are shaping the way you view yourself and how you interact with others.
Developmental trauma such as growing up in a neglectful, controlling, or abusive environment or engaging in dysfunctional relationships can contribute to shame. You may have repeatedly been told that you are not wanted as you are, or you feel like you’ve failed unobtainable standards set by others or society.
Your sense of shame probably developed over time, and it now affects your day-to-day life with intrusive thoughts, awkward interactions, and reinforced negative self-perception. These effects can cause some serious problems. For example, perfectionism and depression are both reactions to shame. You may have also responded by developing unhealthy behaviors such as excessive drinking, disordered eating, or reacting with anger or some other substituted emotion to cope, but this ultimately won’t alleviate your shame.
“Who you are supposed to be” and “who you are” might be two different things, but who you are is perfectly okay and what’s most important. Talk to a mental health professional about your feelings of shame. With their guidance, you can start the process to heal.
Because you don’t develop shame overnight, it may take a little time to change your thought patterns. Facing your shame head-on can be a scary process, but it’s worth it to relieve your underlying feelings and change the way it impacts your life. Therapy is not intended to change who you are, but how you view who you are. Just remember that you are already lovable, you are wanted, and with a little help from a mental health professional, you will be on the path to finally embrace who you are.