By LaTangellia Walker | Community Health and Human Services Intern
Shame is a painful, self-critical emotion; A feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. When we feel shame, it is common to think of ourselves in a negative light. We begin to think that we are ugly, incompetent, or stupid (The psychology of shame, 2023). The moment we begin having these thoughts, we separate our true selves with an ideal image of who we aspire to be. Our ideal image is usually represented by a strong figure, not someone who drowns themselves in self-pity.
Shame is associated with many mental health disorders. The most common mental health disorder that shame is correlated with is suicide, which is often seen as a motive for suicidal behavior. In 2021, 47,646 people died by suicide (CDC, 2022). Suicide rates have been skyrocketing for years and there is evidence that social factors such as loniless, financial ruin and shame are more direct causes of this dramatic increase.
The most common questions we are asked in the United States are “What do you do?” or “Are you seeing anyone?” or “When are you going to have kids?” Oftentimes, when we are being asked these questions, we judge ourselves before anyone else gets a chance to. But what would happen if we let others judge us without judging ourselves? When we leave this world, we aren’t going to care what people say about us.
So how can we learn let go of our shamefulness?
- Admit when you feel shame and explore why.
- Talk to someone you trust about what you are feeling.
- Find compassion for yourself.
- Remember that your opinion of yourself matters the most!
We do not feel ashamed because of our actions, but because of who we are (The psychology of shame, 2023).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 30). Suicide increases in 2021 after two years of decline. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2022/20220930.htm
Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). The psychology of shame. Psychology Today. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sonnet-freud/202009/the-psychology-shame