When we shame and blame ourselves, we create feelings of dissatisfaction, disappointment, and levels of self-loathing. After a hefty dose of shame, our survival mechanism kicks in and we desperately, nearly unconsciously, develop ways for us to escape these negative feelings. We emotionally flee by either numbing the bad feelings or overcompensating to create good feelings.
The sad thing is our body usually pays a heavy toll as we travel our escape route. It has to deal with our drinking alcohol, taking drugs, engaging in risky sex, overeating, oversleeping or binge-watching whatever, for days.
And when all is said and done, the truth is, we feel pretty badly for our “escape-route” behavior too. Which indeed leads to bargaining with ourselves (“I promise I won’t ever do that again”) or even feeling more ashamed of how we acted, leaving us with that shame hangover, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.
Not only do we end up feeling less worthy, but we are actually putting our health at significant risk.
So what’s the answer?
Notice and be honest.
Notice when you are heading towards an “escape route.” And be honest about this path you are choosing.
And then …
Be kind to yourself.
Self-compassion. Love yourself even when you are reaching for that second bag of chips.
If you can, take a breath, a pause, and recognize what triggered you into this shame spiral. Noticing may not immediately change your behavior, but it is the first step to being honest with yourself.
And shame has a hard time living next to honesty.
*photo credit sean-kowal