Advice for intrusive shame & embarrassment

Discussion in 'Strategies for Success' started by lillium, Sep 2, 2016.

  1. lillium

    lillium Active Member

    So I've noticed lately that one of the first things that happens when my mood is starting to spiral downwards are feeling of shame interrupting my good or neutral mood. It's like an internal cringing. Sometimes it's at memories of things i've said or done that were actually embarrassing- which is something everyone gets- But then there's the more toxic shame-- aimed at things I've said passionately, or in total seriousness, or with conviction, or just for fun, totally harmless things. It's like theres this evil little critic in my head who won't leave me alone, who wants to hurl insults at me and make fun of everything I put out into the world, instead of just allowing me to exist in peace.

    can anyone relate, or share some advice?
  2. IamTetsuo

    IamTetsuo Well-Known Member

    Yes I can totally relate. It's a sympton of low slef esteem, an expression of our basic orientation towards ourselves that we don't like ourselves. I get that cringe (not as much as I used to though) when I think about times I acted awkwardly for example but also, weirdly, times when I was having a good time with others. So I feel uncomfortable even about the thought of myself having fun or other people enjoying my company which I know is possible!

    As for dealing with this, it is important to not be too identified with our thoughts. You can realise that you can step back from them and say, "there's that thought or feeling again, the one the makes be feel like shit". When you break your identification with the thought it loses it's power. Being more in the present moment is kind of the same thing so any techniques that help with that are worth looking into. There's a line in The Power of Now which is something like, 'peace of mind is found when we stop looking to the past for our identity and to the fufture for our fulfillment'. Also, visualisation is a really powerful technique for creating the future that you want, say, feeling more stable in social situations.

    I get the cringe when I post on forums but I'm telling it to take a hike! (in a friendly way).
    lillium likes this.
  3. Frances M

    Frances M Mountain Woman

    The mind is very powerful. When my mood spirals, I self-doubt a lot and I actually get a physical reaction that I just HATE. I have to force myself to stop it, I actually have debates in my head. If I get a negative thought or doubt something I've said or done, I have to just say "no. you said/did the right thing, why doubt yourself?" I have to remind myself that it's just my natural tendency to make matters worse. It doesn't always work, even if I try to convince myself I've done nothing to make myself feel so bad, I still have to ride out that "cringe" as you described. If negative thoughts can have such an effect on a person, so can positive thoughts. I tend to choose the positive ones now, but it took a lot of practice. When I do get that "cringe" now though, I get up and walk the dogs, get some nature therapy in the woods.
    IamTetsuo and lillium like this.
  4. RainbowCoyote

    RainbowCoyote Active Member

    I have had problems with shame and embarrassment for what feels like forever...I don't know what you have or haven't tried yet, but one thing i found to work for me is grounding. I usually carry a very textured object around with me in case i do start to spiral like that or in case i find myself disassociating.
    I don't know if you know what grounding is (when my previous therapist brought it up to me i had no idea!) so i'll explain-- and for anyone else who needs it. It is very useful for me:

    You basically pick something (i like to do it by feeling, but you can do it by looking or hearing or anything) and you engage your senses in it. Like i said, i like to do texture so i usually have rocks or rough pieces of plastic or soft fabric with me. For me, grounding means feeling the object and describing it to myself. I use texture because i can focus on other things, too, while doing it, like if i am in class or walking i don't need to look at the object. But i feel it, describe it to myself, and try to find anything defining about it, anything special like a little ridge that looks like two mountains and a valley or something. I find it calming.
    It can easily be done with other senses, too, for example sight: You could look at a painting or a picture or a plant or something in the room and continue on with that, or with sound: you could listen for noises in the room and describe that like someone's keyboard clicking or the cars driving by.

    What this technique does it it keeps you in the moment, it keeps you present. When you start to go deep into the past it can be hard to realize at first and even harder to get yourself back out to the present again but with grounding it gives you a way to basically latch onto the present and engage your senses in it. It helps distract you from the thoughts that were bringing you down and it is a nice relaxing activity.

    I use it when i, like i had mentioned, get into the shameful and embarrassment feelings, but also when i am anxious (i get anxious if i have to talk to new people or in crowds...stuff like walking along the road alone), when i feel like my focus is just flown out the window, or when i am just generally depressed. It distracts my mind and it distracts my senses so that i can stay present and whatever was bothering me can come, be processed (threat assessment, how i feel towards it, whatever), i can react, and then it can leave and i don't linger on it.

    I hope it helps you, and whoever else needs it.
    Aussiefan, lillium and Frances M like this.