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Let’s Win the Shame Game!

Shame is a universal emotion which can be so consuming that a person tends to resort to unhealthy behaviors and creates a toxic relationship with oneself and others. Shame needs to be understood better and healing from it is a dire need in order to ignite well-being.

“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.” – Brene Brown

As Brene rightly defines it, shame often becomes a negative and dysfunctional emotion in us leading to longitudinal discomfort anxiety, depression, low self – esteem, disconnection and likewise. Shame can be triggered by other people’s judgments or expectations but can also be inserted due to the failure of accomplishing our own ideals.

There can be so many reasons which make us feel shame on a daily basis. For example, not getting ‘good’ marks in an exam, not being able to lose weight, not having a large group of friends, the inability to enter a college of choice, parental expectations, and so much more which others expect from us or we expect for ourselves.

Some examples of what shame might feel/sound like in our brains.

“I am so stupid”

“Nobody will love me”

“There’s something wrong with me”

“I’m not good enough”

“People don’t think I am smart”

“They won’t give me the job because I am incompetentHappy And Sad Young Woman royalty-free happy and sad young woman stock illustration - download image now

Such thoughts can be found lurking in our mind and consuming us with shame and self-criticism. When this happens, we resort to unhealthy and negative coping behaviors like addiction, rage, detachment, blame, isolation, self-harm and other destructive behaviors.

Having said that, it is not impossible to cope with shame and respond to it in a manner which enhances your well-being and resilience. Here are some ways to start the process of learning to heal from shame.

  1. Talk about it and acknowledge it - As hard as it is to talk about experiences causing us shame, hiding these stories can make us develop unhealthy coping and wallow in it. It’s better to find a trusted person with whom you can share your story and acknowledge what is causing you shame. This way, you take the power from shame and write the end to the story yourself.

  2. Identify the right emotion – Shame can often be confused with guilt, humiliation or embarrassment. Shame can be ‘I am bad’ while guilt is ‘I did a bad thing’. We are not bad as people. We just make choices which may hurt us or others. Learn to define what you are feeling correctly and practice self-forgiveness and compassion.

  3. Learn to celebrate your inner strengths – This is not something you’ll realize right away, but when you begin the process of healing from shame, and reflect on this process, you’ll understand how strong you have been after all.

  4. Treat yourself like you would treat a friend – Just like you would be kind and compassionate toward a friend in a time of shame and despair, remember that you also deserve that kindness. Try to change your self-talk from critical to compassionate and forgiving. It’s okay to be imperfect and continue to grow. Offer yourself a tight hug or love and kindness and remind yourself that you’re enough.

While shame is a universal emotion, it can be experienced differently by all of us. Getting caught up in this turmoil of shaming and being shamed is a piece of cake but bringing yourself out of it is hard work and resilience. You may not be perfect but remember, that’s not what we are here for. You’re unique for YOU and that’s ‘good enough’. 

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Health benefits of crying

Just as other emotions, crying is also a natural human emotion. Then why do we consider it as an activity of the weak?

We all cry at some point in our lives. Some people, however, cry more than others and are usually perceived as weak. Whereas, those who don’t cry much and are always either in-control or happy are considered as confident and happy people. The fact is that crying is a natural human response to other emotions like joy, grief, sadness, anger, etc. And as opposed to popular belief, people who cry more have a better mental and emotional health.

Here’s why crying has its own health benefits:

Crying has a soothing effect

Crying lowers the stress levels and makes one feel more calm and composed. A study conducted in 2014 found that crying may have a direct effect on people as crying stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which aids in relaxing.

Pain reliever

In addition to soothing, crying when emotional releases oxytocin and endorphins, which are actually ‘feel-good’ hormones and ease both physical and emotional pain. Hence, shedding tears can reduce our pain levels and enhance a sense of well-being.

Reduces stress and detoxifies

When we cry in response to stress, the tears contain a number of stress hormones and other chemicals. Many researchers have believed that crying could reduce the levels of these chemicals in our body, which in turn, reduces the levels of stress.

Fights bacteria

Crying aids in killing bacteria and keeping the eyes clean as tears contain a fluid called lysozyme. A study conducted in 2011 found that lysozyme has powerful antimicrobial properties and that it could even help to reduce risks presented by bioterror agents, such as anthrax.

If you have a story to share, Email it to us HERE.

If you have a query, Email it to us HERE.

You can also chat with the counsellor by clicking on Teentalk Expert Chat.

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