Shame Fuelled Inflammation
Shame what is it and why do we participate in it ?
Shame is a very interesting concept to me and I find the principle of shame to be both fascinating and deeply complexed. Recently I have been investigating the way that negative thoughts and emotions, chronic stress and unresolved trauma can subtly and systematically sabotage health, similar to the way that chronic inflammation does.
Shame is something that we may all carry to varying degrees and amounts. We now can identify that shame can be crippling, anxiety inducing and ultimately unbearable but how did we get there and how did we begin to carry such burden around with us and more importantly, how do we lighten its load.
Why do we carry shame around with us?
The origins of shame can almost always be tied back to past experiences of feeling judged, criticised, or rejected by someone else. People often respond to shame by pushing away others, withdrawing, and working to preserve their reputation by hiding the aspects of themselves they feel will lead to rejection.
Why shame get’s worse over time. Unlike many things, time does not help or heal shame. Without proper attention and processing, shame grows in silence, secrecy and with judgement. So if we hide our shame we actually create a bigger problem for ourselves. You may be thinking if we expose our shame we will be judged however more so, the judgement we have towards ourself is the cruelest of them all. This can manifest itself as both mental and physical health implications. The thing about shame is everybody has it, Nobody wants to talk about it. The less we talk about it, the more power it has over us.
“But shame is like a wound that is never exposed and therefore never heals.”~Andreas Eschbach
How Shame Impacts Our Wellness
This link between emotional and physical health is often referred to as the mind-body connection. This concept is unfortunately largely ignored by the conventional health care system, with the correlation of the two still remaining very much separate. Yet research confirms the significance of this connection with studies showing that mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and PTSD are connected to physical health factors such as diet, inflammation, and the health of the gut microbiome. This tells us that unresolved past trauma and chronic stress, can lead to build up of shame, that can have a significant impact on our ability to stay healthy, heal from illnesses, and make healthy choices. Some researchers describe shame’s influence on our health as “insidious, pervasive, and pernicious.”
How to Release Shame and Stop Feeling Fundamentally Flawed
Getting shame under control requires getting our gut-feeling connection back in sync. We can do this by focusing not only on the foods that are kind to our gut but also on the practices that are friendly to our mind, like self-compassion.
Mental and Emotional Tools:
We cannot become resistant to shame, but we can develop resilience to it. Through sharing our shame we can helpfully release what we can become so tightly attached to. We have to help one another know we are not alone in our experiences and in our feelings. It is helpful to have corrective, validating, and emotional experiences with someone we love and deem as a safe person. We have to understand that part of our shared humanity is having parts of ourselves we are scared to show, but we have to be brave enough to show them anyway. The feeling after sharing shame feels instantly lighter and looser, it allows us to breathe again.
Physical and Biological Tools:
Focusing on taking care of ourselves and our mental health, becomes a whole lot easier when we keep our physical health a top priority. Ensuring your diet is full of whole foods and healthy fats, fibre and protein allows you to feel balanced and elevated and able to address improving your mind set especially when it comes to shame. It’s no secret that if we take care of our bodies, we feel good and with feeling good comes self confidence and self esteem. Having this as a foundation provides radical shifts to occur in a shame spiral. You respect yourself more and realise your deservingness to feel good is worth more than your shameful thoughts.
In many instances, the antidote to shame is a process of slowing down, getting still and reconnecting with yourself. You can’t heal a body you hate and it’s time to embark on a journey to having more ease and grace towards yourself.
Categorised in: Mindset
This post was written by Amelia Crossley