Years ago I knew this guy who was your typical laddy bloke – extrovert, a loud laugh, confident, fitted in well, played sports, enjoyed banter and going out, got overly excited about new Bond movies – that kind of thing. He met a girl at University, they’re still together, and he became a solicitor. But one late drunken night back then, after some pointless argument about something, he shared a secret with me.
You’re probably already more of an expert than you know, at least on the feelings and effects of shame-based anxiety – having likely used many efforts in wrestling with, hiding, denying and coping with them. Even if you don’t realize it.
Just a few pointers, so that you don’t fall into some common traps. Like becoming annoying to people, blaming your parents for everything, or using it as an excuse to hide behind.
The tiniest seed of self-doubt – the smallest implication that you might be flawed – can grow and grow into a whole neurosis over time that could ruin your life. With incredibly destructive consequences.
When you learn to notice feelings of shame, you earn a special reward – the option to do something about it.
I’ll share some personal examples of how my own shame awareness has made me look at situations completely differently.
When I feel shame, I feel like I have less energy. I withdraw, rest, and sometimes just dissolve into the background. There’s a specific reason for this, which is why a lot of people feel this way.
These are things you’ll probably be far more willing to notice in other people – those little moments where a sly dig or put-down makes you feel like shit. But make no mistake – when you’re feeling shamed, you’ll be doing some of these too. And therein lies the rub – those annoying people? They come from a place of shame too.
The fear of being flawed and not good enough isn’t something that people are readily able to admit to themselves. Most people never make that breakthrough, for others it can take a lifetime.
Here are four good reasons why shame creates strong feelings of denial:
Shame drains energy. Lethargy, apathy, tiredness, not wanting to get up in the morning, headaches, migraines – anxiety, fear and worry take up lots of energy! It doesn’t just stop there – keeping emotional conflicts pushed deep down can result in digestion issues, eating disorders, addictions, skin disorders and many more ailments. I’ll even show you how shame caused Crohn’s disease.
When I was in my early twenties, I remember seeing an ad in the Metro newspaper on a train, which I never forgot. It showed something which stuck in my head, like it had some unconscious cosmic significance.
Or maybe it just scared the shit out of me.