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  • Writer's pictureGayatree Dipchan

The Shame Shadow

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

Shame response after trauma
A traumatic event can leave us with shame
Brené Brown defined shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.

Trauma in itself can create intense feelings of unworthiness and can leave us withdrawing from those who care for us and those we have shared intimate and personal relationships with. Many times because of our vulnerability after experiencing a traumatic event, our insecurities 'rear it's ugly head'. This manifests itself in a shame response and can often generate feelings of helplessness, changing our narrative of ourself. Shame affects our perceptions, not only of ourselves but also how we perceive others perceiving us giving us a strong, potentially unrealistic 'feeling of being judged by others'.

What shame response looks like
What shame response looks like

The shame response can be described in the physiological reactions of experiencing worthlessness and powerlessness in any given situation. Shame is an intense emotion that affects multiple systems in the body. It activates the crisis response in the nervous system and interprets a fight or flight behaviour.

Feelings of shame can very easily influence the way in which you view yourself. Some of the most shame filled phrases we tell ourselves is "I'm not good enough", "I don't belong", "I'm not loveable" and "I should not exist in this world". This negative self talk creates a chronic bias against yourself and can lead to a pessimistic view of life and the situations you are working through.

What can cause the Shame Response
What can cause the Shame Response

Shame follows the experiences of feelings of betrayal. Whether this stems from a social or personal experiences such as family abuse and neglect or assault and rape.

Unfortunately Shame creates isolating experiences and can lead to anxiety and depression. In some cases, it can lead to withdrawal from society impacting family dynamics and personal relationships. In some cases, it is the festering emotion that leads to family violence and 'feelings of revenge'.

We all deal with our trauma recovery differently, sometimes bringing our traumatic experiences out in the light away from the shadows, empowers us to work through these negative feelings.

Having worked as a Psychologist in the Caribbean and the UK, I've learnt that the most clients experience a level of shame after their experience of trauma. Most time it is as a result of social perceptions and the feelings of judgement. Depending where you are in. your healing journey, Trauma Therapy and Trauma Recovery Coaching can help.

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