Shame and mental health.

Lets look at trauma, addiction, depression, anxiety and mental health in general in relation to shame.

How often are we experiencing one of the symptoms above, but also at the same time riddled with shame about the fact this is our experience. Not only are we addicted, not only are we traumatised or anxious or depressed, but we are also terribly ashamed about it.

There can be so many thoughts swirling around in our head about how this shouldn't be, I shouldn't be an addict, I shouldn't be depressed, I shouldn't be triggered etc.

If we really dig down and look at these stories we will find nothing but cultural belief systems, nothing but conditioned thoughts, words that we believe to be true. We then feel wrong for feeling the way we feel. Even referring to them as "issues" is already a word loaded with shame, even saying we have to be anonymous about our addiction or alcoholism implies there is underlying shame about it.

How can we truly heal by being ashamed of ourselves? Shame causes us to push away these things more and more, but we don't heal by pushing away, by manipulating, by controlling and we definitely don't heal by pretending they are not there. We heal by welcoming, by allowing, by being gentle with ourselves and giving ourselves the love and care we need.

I have come to the conclusion all these symptoms are just that, symptoms of deeper emotional wounding. Which needs to be honoured, which needs compassion and understanding, not condemnation.

These cultural belief systems need to be looked at, they need to be brought to the surface and seen because most of the time they play out unconsciously, sabotaging us. Even the feelings of shame need to be felt, none of them are wrong, they are just raw sensations, raw energy moving through the body looking to be liberated.

All the trauma, all the shame, all the wounds need to be allowed to surface, they need to be honoured, not only as individuals but as a culture we need to be brave enough to stop lying to ourselves. It starts with you and me coming out of the dark, and just maybe over time with enough people being open and honest, we can heal on a collective level.

I still find myself falling for these belief systems on occasion, they are so deeply ingrained. But the more they are seen, the more they fall away, and the more I live authentically as who I am without shame.


Matt Nettleton

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