(This blog post is based on the work of Sheila Rubin and Bret Lyon, who offer therapy trainings in Berkeley California.)
There is an emotion that can instantly make us feel stuck and stupid.
Not only that, it can actually make us momenterily stupid!
This emotion can make other feelings hard to feel or resolve. It can hijack your thinking, your grieving, and your anger. It can take you into loops of hopelessness, helplessness, and an inability to move.
It can isolate you. It can prevent clarity. It can keep you in a cycle of blaming yourself and sometimes blaming others.
It can steal your energy and your sense of ability to move forward.
What is it?
It’s toxic shame.
Toxic shame is a sense of being unlovable, fundamentally flawed.
It’s an emotion, but it also acts as a trauma in the body. We need to work with both pieces of that in order to help you move forward.
Shame also is not healed through intellect, through advice-giving, through your friends and loved ones telling you that you’re wonderful, or through you taking on yet another self improvement project.
What can heal it?
A whole combination of things, actually! It isn’t usually done alone, though. One definition of shame is a “break in the interpersonal bridge” — in other words, it’s a feeling of disconnection from other people, from relationships. We can relate to each other in ways that help to rebuild that bridge to yourself and to other people.