It wasn't until towards the end of 2020 where I began to understand the term 'Shame' and the power it had over my entire life. I'd unknowingly always had it confused with guilt, because that's how I felt. Guilty.
Shame comes hand in hand with Complex-PTSD. A child who's made to feel powerless due to controlling parents, neglect or perhaps extreme abuse will develop feelings of being unwanted, not belonging or utter self disgust at no fault of their own. As time goes on and they enter adulthood, these feelings become beliefs, enforcing the individual that they really are "worthless, disgusting and unlovable" people.
Imagine spending your entire life convinced that everyone around you is far superior to you in every conceivable way, and when bad things happen, they're fully deserved. It's a truly dreadful place to be, and whilst I know that feeling far too well, I'm becoming more aware that I'm not the only one.
We've become prisoners of our own mind, reprogrammed in to believing a twisted reality that's manifested over time, to a point where we no longer remember how things used to be and how happy we felt before things went south.
It gets worse though (bare with me)
Whilst an individual may carry on with their daily lives with this dreadful burden, there's still the added danger of triggers that amplify those feelings of shame up to 11 and they're crippling in every way possible. But what if you have no idea about shame, or triggers or flashbacks? A face on the TV kicks off a subconscious thought process, the nervous system goes on overdrive, the heart is racing, you start to sweat and mentally you're a child in the blink of an eye. Helpless, terrified, alone and at the mercy of your thoughts telling you you're worthless and disgusting and everyone would be better off without you.
I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but that's the reality that so many trauma victims live with daily and for many have no idea what it all means.
There is hope
Firstly understanding what's happening and why you feel like this is really important. I'm in an incredibly fortunate position now as a qualified Mental Health First Aider, where I have the privilege of supporting others going through their own battles, by not only offering support but being able to identify those underlying subtle comments that can highlight how someone may feel about themselves.
In addition, through learning the foundation of Neurolinguistics Programming (NLP), there are simple techniques a person can do to start down the road to introducing more positive thoughts about themselves and enforce a more helpful mindset. Let me give you an example.
When was the last time you congratulated yourself for achieving a task? We're great at criticising ourselves when things go wrong, but pretty terrible at highlighting a success. So if you struggle with low self worth, please give this a go.
Every time you complete a task, vocally congratulate yourself. Do it again and again and again for at least a week and keep a note of you mood on a daily basis. You deserve to be happy, and you are loved, just start learning to love yourself.
Later this month I start my next lot of training to become an NLP Practitioner which completes in June. The aim is to pay forward what I've learnt and help others become better versions of themselves, as I promise you don't have to live a life of mental suffering if you don't want to.
If any of this resonates with you or perhaps someone you know, please feel free to reach out as I'd happily go in to further detail.