Have you been trying to manage your feelings and experiences on our own? Do you feel your life lacks pleasure due to feeling numb? Do you constantly battle negative thoughts? Disconnecting from your loved ones while experiencing physical and mental distress that you can’t seem to move forward from? You may be struggling to recover from Trauma.
Trauma is damage to the mind that occurs as a result of a distressing event. Trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope, or integrate the emotions involved with that experience. Trauma may result from a single distressing experience or recurring events of being overwhelmed that can be precipitated in weeks, years, or even decades as the person struggles to cope with the immediate circumstances, eventually leading to serious, long-term negative consequences.
What are Symptoms of Trauma?
- Intense fear
- Change in sleep
- Change in appetite
- Change in behavior
- Emotional numbing
- Withdrawing from loved ones
- Sexually Assault
- Pandemics such as Covid-19
- Grief, loss of someone or something
- Job Loss
- Abuse (sexually, physically, mentally and/or emotionally)
- Witnessing an accident
- Chronic Stress
- Natural disasters (such as earthquake, flood, tornado)
- Man made disasters (such as bombings)
- Violent person attacks (such as mugging, kidnap or being held captive)
- Shock Trauma
Because trauma differs between individuals, according to their subjective experiences, people will react to similar traumatic events differently. In other words, not all people who experience a potentially traumatic event will actually become psychologically traumatized. However, it is possible for some people to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being exposed to a major traumatic event. This discrepancy in risk rate can be attributed to protective factors some individuals may have that enable them to cope with trauma; they are related to temperamental and environmental factors from among others.
Signs of Emotional Abuse
If you’re wondering whether it’s happening to you, here are some of the signs:
- Yelling at you
- Spewing insults or otherwise ridiculing you
- Attempting to make you question your own sanity (gaslighting)
- Invading your privacy
- Punishing you for not going along with what they want
- Trying to control your life
- Isolating you from family and friends
- Making subtle or overt threats
- Expectations of you are never met (unrealistic)
- They create chaos
- Humiliate you in public
- Treats you like a possession or property
One in six women and one in 33 men in the U.S. has been raped or been the victim of attempted rape. After being sexually assaulted, it can be difficult to know where to turn for help. It is just as important to get help for the emotional impact of sexual assault as it is to receive care for physical wounds. Even if they think they are coping well, survivors of sexual assault often experience self-blame, lowered self-esteem, panic attacks, eating disorders, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, and problems with work and social interactions. The National Women’s Study found that 30% of rape survivors suffer from depression. Rape survivors are also at an increased risk for suicide and drug abuse. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and fear are common among rape survivors. Interestingly, therapies that were designed to help soldiers with PTSD are now being used to help victims of sexual assault. Symptoms Include:
- Intrusive re-experiencing (through memories or reminders) of the assault
- Avoidance of trauma-related stimuli or reminders
- Alterations in thoughts and mood (negative thinking and depressed, anxious, or angry mood)
- Increased arousal and reactivity (anxiety, hypervigilance, irritability, easily star
You might be in denial at first. It can be shocking to find yourself in such a situation. It’s natural to hope you’re wrong. It is common to feel confused, fearful, hopeless and shame.This emotional toll can also result in behavioral and physical side effects. You may experience:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Racing heartbeat
- Various aches and pains
Types of Trauma Disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A disorder in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. The condition may last months or years, with triggers that can bring back memories of the trauma accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions. Symptoms may include nightmares or unwanted memories of the trauma, avoidance of situations that bring back memories of the trauma, heightened reactions, anxiety, or depressed mood. Treatment includes different types of trauma-focused psychotherapy as well as medications to manage symptoms.
Acute stress disorder (ASD): is an intense, unpleasant, and dysfunctional reaction beginning shortly after an overwhelming traumatic event and lasting less than a month. If symptoms persist longer than a month, people are diagnosed as having post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Adjustment disorders: is a group of symptoms, such as stress, feeling sad or hopeless, and physical symptoms that can occur after you go through a stressful life event. The symptoms occur because you are having a hard time coping. Your reaction is stronger than expected for the type of event that occurred.
Reactive attachment disorder (RAD): is described in clinical literature as a severe and relatively uncommon disorder that can affect children. RAD is characterized by markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate ways of relating socially in most contexts.
Specific treatment for PTSD will be determined by your individual circumstances:
- Your age, overall health and medical history
- The severity and extent of your disease
- Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- Your expectations for the course of the disease
- Your opinion or preference
PTSD TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR YOU
Treatment for trauma includes cognitive-behavioral therapy which helps process and evaluate thoughts and feelings about a trauma. A number of psychotherapy approaches have been designed with the treatment of trauma , such as EMDR therapy, mindfulness techniques, as well as Cognitive- behavioral Treatment (CPT).
- Help you calm and soothe yourself
- Increase your awareness of, and access to, inner strengths and outside resources
- Process specific memories, through carefully guided talk and/or writing
- Challenge yourself to reconnect and do non-dangerous things you have been avoiding since the traumatic event(s)
- Challenge trauma-based thinking, so that you can restore a healthy mental framework for living
- Make meaning of what happened and how it has affected your deepest self and your family
- Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Increase a personal sense of confidence and competence
- Regain your quality of life, including enhanced relationships with others, greater activity level, and more positive and stable mood
- Reduce, if not eliminate, trauma-reaction symptoms/symptoms of PTSD
Begin Trauma and PTSD therapy near Houston, Clear Lake, Katy and The Woodlands Texas.
Our compassionate therapists, support and assist clients to connect with their authentic self and learn to love, not hate, themselves. Also, behaviors will be evaluated that are not currently working for them. We utilize multiple therapy modalities based on the client’s personality and problem. The therapy modalities are all research-based and are showing success based on the particular problems and the client.
Our greatest desire at Therapy for Families is to help each individual feel comfortable and hopeful about their therapy process. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. We also offer a free consultation to help assess how therapy can benefit you and help you to feel peace and happiness again.
Services available online state wide in Texas, Utah, Arizona, Florida, California and New Jersey!
This new year has been a “new temporary norm” to adjust to. Thankfully, it will be temporary. With this blog, we wanted to share attainable tools to practice daily to give you more balance in our current circumstance. The effects of the coronavirus have been devastating to not just our country, but the entire world. The most common effect it has had on our communities is the damage to individuals mental health. Here are potential symptoms to watch out for: anxiety (ex: worrying), obsessions (ex: ocd), loneliness (ex: depressive episode), and traumatic stress (NAMI, March 2020). In the U.S. alone, nearly 7 million people are affected by generalized anxiety disorders and about 6 million with panic disorders. These numbers are expected to increase in the next few months (ABCNEWS, March 2020).
Tools to increase structure, balance, healthy coping and decrease stress:
Follow a regular routine:
A regular routine will help you keep a healthy balance, better health, decreases stress, improves focus and even an increase in self-discipline. It allows you to have better time management, which helps to organize your precious time. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, which maintains the timing of the body’s internal clock and can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily. http://www.skilledatlife.com/18-reasons-why-a-daily-routine-is-so-important/
Benefits of moving your body regularly helps with enhancing your brain’s health, circulation, mood, regulates digestion, bones and lymph become healthier. It is both good for the body and mental health. https://mindbody.io/blog/wellness/movement-beneficial-your-mental-health
Reduce social media and screen time:
Reducing social media may increase one’s personal time and productivity, increase ability to focus, improve self-esteem and may even help reclaim a sense of self. Too much screen time can increase anxiety, insomnia and stress. It can also be hard on the eyes and even cause Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Reducing screen time can help prevent headaches, improve sleep and focus. It is important to stay connected with our loved ones. Balance with technology is the key for appropriate care with mental health.
Create hobbies to work on:
What’s in that dusty closet of yours that hasn’t had much attention due to busy life? Crafts? Jewelry making? Art? Paint brushes? Drawing? Photography? Or even Volunteering or an act of Service? Take a minute to ponder what makes your heart sing that you’ve put on the back burner. https://www.positivelypresent.com/2013/06/benefits-of-having-a-hobby.html
Clean and/or organize one small area a day:
Doing this can help to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed, stressed and it can help to gain a sense of productivity. It also helps one’s head feel more clear of clutter, it can increase your energy and calm the specific living space. And last of all, it sets a good example to your children.
Research easy home activities to do with your children and as a family:
Like, breakfast in bed, hide & seek, plant a garden if you have a yard, make decorations to decorate windows, have a dance party, make friendship bracelets, play board games, have more story time, have a pillow fight, have a tea party, write letters to family friends and explore your creative side.
Journaling can be a powerful cleansing tool for the soul. It reduces stress and allows our mind and heart to sort through the day, by hand, and self reflect. It can bring more clarity, peace and gratitude to your life. It also boosts memory, creativity and improves goal setting outcomes.
Read that book that’s been sitting on that shelf waiting for you:
Reading is very important for your brain. It strengthens it! It increases empathy, builds vocabulary, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, aids in good sleep, lengthens lifespan, alleviates depression and prevents cognitive decline. And most of all, time goes by faster when reading something that’s of interest. https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-reading-books
We encourage you to practice these tools daily and hope they give you a more balanced life during this hard time WE are all going through together. We are here to support you through it. Please reach out if you are struggling at www.healingwholeness.com. We offer therapy services state wide in Texas, Utah, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
Blog by Danell Ranquist
EMDR Stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a therapeutic approach which helps to heal those who have suffered from substantially traumatic experiences in their life.
WHO CAN EMDR HELP?
This treatment can help with a variety of symptoms or diagnosis. There has been substantial research that proves it is very effective for Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD). It can also be effective in alleviating:
- High anxiety
- Memories and flashbacks of a traumatic experience
- Unrealistic feelings of guilt and shame
- Difficulty in trusting others
- Relationship issues
- Pain Management
- Eating Disorders
HOW DOES EMDR HELP WITH THE HEALING PROCESS?
EMDR therapy heals trauma, while teaching you skills on how to handle emotional distress in real life. It helps to release the grasp trauma has on your body and mind, while simultaneously relieving your symptoms. All together, this helps to regain your life and further you in your healing process.
Our role as helpers is very important while we provide support to others who are going through grief and trauma as a result of Hurricane Harvey. It is crucial to recognize that during this vulnerable time, self-care is more important than ever. It is a good thing we are all having different experiences which help us to be better able to support each other.
I have been experiencing survivor’s guilt, which is a thought process or condition regarding feelings of guilt or shame about surviving a traumatic event. I am not experiencing a tenth of what others are experiencing, my family and I got lucky!
As I went to volunteer at the shelter with my kiddos, I caught myself feeling shame. After a couple of hours, I got hungry (which everyone human being feels) and my feet started to hurt. I caught myself having shaming thoughts about my healthy human condition of wanting to meet my hunger needs and take a break from walking. I recognized that those thoughts were not healthy.
The truth is, that “self-care” can help us become better helpers and caregivers. Are you aware that you can experience something called “secondary trauma?” this is indirectly experiencing trauma from just hearing someone’s story! Secondary trauma is also known as “compassion fatigue,” so this is important to pay attention to. It would be very hard for you to support others if you are suffering from secondary trauma. The more your central nervous system is stable, the better you can be ready to help stabilize others and they can be in a better position to fully heal.
Here are five things you can do: Self-care for helpers.
1) Nurture your social connections/attachments:
I am sure you have heard the huge buzz about “attachment” and you are aware of the abundance of research on what secure attachment can provide for us. Keeping some of the research in mind, you recall the focus on how it can help with our healing, both emotionally and physically. We are wired as human beings to be have secure relationships/attachments. This alone will teach our nervous systems to self-regulate, or go into a healing mode. This means that our bodies won’t reach a point outside our tolerance of pain. If, however, it does, we can bring it back to that healing mode because we have a reference point.
We are then able to cope within our tolerance of pain. However, when we go too far beyond our tolerance, then healing and working through painful situations cannot happen. Healthy relationships are crucial to our healing and stress.
There are a few things we can do to be consistent with nurturing our secure attachments. First, remind yourself you are worthy of love and belonging (you are lovable.) Second, figure out your love language and your loved ones’ love language(s.) Be vulnerable to ask “to get your love language needs met” and be wise enough to meet your spouse’s love language needs in the way they prefer. Third, make your relationship safe for you and the other person to be open about vulnerable feelings while not being judgmental, and while offering forgiveness, compassion and ownership of your part in the pain as well. Fourth, be sure to validate your spouse’s emotions. You don’t need to fix it. Just be supportive.
2) Be aware of your own needs:
When it comes to self-care, it is extremely important to be aware of and listen to your body and take ownership of it. God gave us our beautiful bodies with many different functions. It is our job to show respect to our bodies, because no one else can do it for us. Have a drink of water when you’re thirsty, rest if you are tired, eat when you’re hungry, play, laugh, cry, do some physical activity, and express yourself. Also, give yourself permission to take a break from the news and social media. Too much of anything isn’t healthy. In addition, part of finding your balance consists of reducing stress by paying attention to your body.
Mindfulness and relaxation have never failed me. There are many grounding and mindfulness practices that can help with reducing stress such as deep breathing, yoga, positive self-talk, creating a safe place, and progressive relaxation. You can practice any of these techniques, anywhere. For example, if you are on your way home from volunteering at the shelter or helping with a cleanup, you can focus on your breathing , or the scenery or even just count (I know it sounds weird, but it is calming!) .
I know with Hurricane Harvey, there were countless situations where crisis workers (police, doctors, nurses, therapists, and rescues) were working hours on end and they didn’t have the luxury of opting out of helping, because of the pressure of life or death was in their hands, and every second of the day was so valuable. It was important for people in that situation to listen to their body, seek support, and debrief after every situation.
3. Be realistic about how you can help:
There are many ways you can offer your service and help. For example, you may be a stay-home parent, taking care of your young children while your spouse is working or helping others with the cleanup. You can do laundry for others, make baked goods, write notes to the victims of the Hurricane, and be a listening ear for a friend who experienced trauma that left a lot of victims. It’s really import to understand your limitations and you are not selfish for doing so. Another example would be someone who suffers from the chronic back pain, it wouldn’t be wise to help with cleanup and tearing down dry wall.
4. Be aware of your shame thoughts and combat them with a healthy story:
Every human has over 50,000 thoughts a day and some of those thoughts and stories we tell ourselves are distorted. For example, ”I am not worthy, I am selfish, I am dumb,” and the list goes on. Such thoughts can provoke the defeated feelings of being a failure or unworthiness. For example, if I am telling myself that I am selfish because I need to rest or go to the gym then my feelings are going to result in me feeling bad about myself. It’s important to pay attention to our stories and reframe the story to a healthier story. Healthier Story: “I can better help others if go to the gym and eat. And, I will have some energy to give to my spouse and children to meet their needs.”
5) Finding balance:
My balance is going to look very different from yours because our situations are not identical. I have a husband who needs me to be supportive of him, and I have three kids ranging from 1-11 years old to nurture. In addition, I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and own a full practice in Houston and in The Woodlands. More so, I feel it is an honor and also my duty to support my clients during this catastrophic event known as Hurricane Harvey.
Time management is going to be important in this process to get our priorities together, and one way you can do this is use Sunday (the beginning of the week) to do good family planning. This may include family time (ask for feedback from your children and your spouse and find out if you are meeting their emotional needs.) It may also include work, food preparation, kids’ sports, service to others, self-care, and other obligations. For example, if you have a full week, and you would like to offer your help, figure out on your schedule where you can do that: “On Tuesday I have a gap in my schedule for a few hours to do someone else’s laundry, or babysit or help with Harvey clean-up.”
Once you have worked your way through these five steps, you will feel more balanced, less stressed, and feeling less shame. You will become far more effective as a helper and accomplish so much more than you would have otherwise done.
We won’t let you break us down.. #Texasstrong
Perfectionism is rooted in shame. This negative defense mechanism is externally driven, with a huge emphasis on “what people think of you”, versus “staying true to yourself”, ignoring the opinions of others. Shame (I am a mistake and).
According to Brene Brown shame grows through silence, isolation and judgement. Because it involves these three “separating factors,” shame prevents us from healing. Guilt, on the other hand, is motivating because it only focuses a mistake we made. It is an adaptive emotion in which we compare something we did, or we failed to do, against an ideal that we would like to achieve. Healthy experiences of guilt act as a spiritual check and balance system. When our behavior is incompatible with how we want to act, we experience guilt as an opportunity for spiritual growth and change. (Brene Brown)
Guilt comes down to this: “I made a mistake and I am still worthy of love and belonging!” It is not so with shame and perfectionism. Perfectionism is never self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, a game of competing to win approval. Most perfectionists grew up being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, and outward appearance.” (Brene Brown)
In the process of becoming shame resilient, the individuals who successfully work through their shame share common traits. They identify their shame triggers, they do a reality inventory, and they speak to a trusted person. Effective ways to talk about shame are to talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love, minus harsh words or derogatory thinking. Also, it is essential to talk to someone you trust by opening yourself up to their empathy. You can then tell your story to others which helps them and you as well.
Self-compassion is essential in the healing process of working through shame. It is important to find people who are great models of compassion, yet who are not enablers (who only want to control us with an appearance of sympathy.) Such people would be able to acknowledge that you are suffering without “pitying” you. They are kind and understanding, yet do not try to take over your life. They do not shame or act judgmental of you, making you feel like an inferior being. They recognize that suffering is part of the human experience. (Dr. Kristen Neff)The full circle is being that safe person means that you are trustworthy and that you can offer empathy, without trying to run people’s lives. You use perspective take when expressing empathy. You withhold judgement on the one speaking. You recognize what their emotions are and help them to do so. You communicate those emotions to them. You also are a sounding board for their solutions to their problems. By doing this, you have come full circle in your role as the model of compassion and genuine assistance to the one who is opening up to you.
Working through Perfectionism In Houston, The Woodlands and Spring- Cypress Texas
Studies show that 80% of individuals with a mental health diagnosis also have underlying sleep disturbance.1 Adequate sleep is essential to mental and emotional regulation. During sleep, the brain creates new pathways, processes information, and regenerates the brain and body. Research has linked inadequate sleep to a myriad of issues, including: depression, anxiety, PTSD symptoms, post-partum depression, ADHD, learning disabilities, obesity, emotional dysregulation, health complications and more.
Surveys conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that at least 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more. According to the APA, “In clinical settings, cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) has a 70-80 percent success rate for helping those who suffer from chronic insomnia. Almost one third of people with insomnia achieve normal sleep and most reduce their symptoms by 50 percent and sleep an extra 45-60 minutes a night.”2
As you can see, emphasizing sleep goes hand in hand with the aims of therapy. By adding a separate sleep consultation, clients will maximize the benefit of therapy and, if compliant, will see great strides in emotional regulation, overall health and well-being. Having a session with a separate sleep consultant adds emphasis to the importance of sleep and increases the likelihood of compliance, since it’s not just one of many interventions suggested by the primary therapist. Additionally, the primary therapist can maintain focus on the emotional issues for which the client originally sought therapy without being sidetracked or juggling multiple goals.
A loss is considered when we look back at an experience or a person and it brings up negative emotions; we avoid talking about it, or we have a lopsided view of the relationship (all good or all bad). There are different losses that are not just physical death. For example, there are losses as a child because one didn’t have a emotionally safe environment or an engaged parent; another example, is the loss with a miscarriage. Other examples would be the end of a marriage/ friendship, a job loss, loss of a dream, and a financial loss.
More so, there is right way to grieve and a wrong way to grieve, and unfortunately culture hurts the way we grieve. For example, culture tells us not to feel bad, to just replace our loss (get a new dog), to grieve alone, just give it time and although these statements may not be explicitly said, they are definitely implicit.
Despite what we know about the universal model about loss, which is experienced through stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. According to the founders of The Grief Recovery Institute ( John James and Russell Friedman) they were explicit about how the loss model of stages actually was not quite correct. In fact, believing in these stages as a griever hurts the grief process- the process of moving on from the pain. The founders/researchers have insinuated that when we are grieving and we label our natural emotions in such stages, that we will never work through it because we are always in a stage of grief. They believe that we can fully work through grief, but of course it is a process like anything in life, we can still enjoy life and the pain doesn’t always have to be there.
As a therapist, one thing that I am really sure about with grief work is this: if we don’t work through our emotional pain including grief, this will affect us and others around us quite negatively. For example, we won’t be able to give ourselves fully to another person because maybe we fear that they will leave us and we can’t deal with another loss. And if we don’t give ourselves fully to those who are significant in our lives, (and this includes God), then we won’t have the meaningful and profound emotional relationships that we deserve. In fact it is for learning to build and cultivate these precious relationships that is really one of the main reasons that Heavenly Father has provided a body here on earth for us!
Therefore, it is clear that it is important to grieve correctly. There are many things that can and do hurt our grieving process. The first great error is we when we use quick fixes to deal with the pain such as drugs, food, work, keeping busy and etc. The second, is when we believe that we can’t get over the pain and can never feel joy again. Such a belief is false, because if we believe in the atonement then we can be emotionally set free. Now, this doesn’t mean that our life won’t be different after such a loss. The reality is that it will.
If you are at all like me, you will want to make people feel good and support them. People in general don’t know how to respond to someone who has lost someone close to them, perhaps because their feelings scare us. The reality is this: there is nothing that we can say to truly ease their pain because the pain is real, but there is a lot that we can say or do to hurt them. Some examples of hurtful things would be as follows: 1. We must definitely avoid telling them we know how they feel (every relationship is unique) 2. We need to avoid saying the comments noted above, such as not to feel bad, just give it some time. 3. We try to change the subject. 4. We intellectualize their pain by saying something like he’s in a better place. 5. We don’t want to talk about death (imagine how hurtful and confusing it is to talk like that to children who already can’t process the pain). 5. We inconsiderately tell them they should keep their faith.
- Here are some examples of harmful quotes:
- Get a hold of yourself.
- You can’t fall apart.
- Keep a stiff upper life.
- Pull yourself up by your boot straps.
- We know how you feel.
- Be thankful you have other children.
- Life must go on.
- He is in better place.
- All things must pass.
- She led a full life.
- God will never give you something you can’t handle.
- Be strong for the others.
- Keep busy.
One thing that I know from personal experience is that Grief is painful. Grief consists an entire spectrum of different emotions. None of those emotions are “wrong”. Grief is a process and this process consists of that individual’s unique feelings as they work through their personal pain experience.
Grief is a gift from Heavenly Father so we can walk through it and come out of it as whole as we possibly can be on earth. Grief is one way to use the atonement and build or sustain an intimate relationship with the Lord. As you know there is much pain in this world, and because we do have the atonement we can heal and obtain emotional freedom. There are many types of losses.
One of the hardest things for grievers to understand is that they are responsible for their own emotions, which means that if they want to heal then they have to do their own work. No one can feel their feelings for them. They must feel their feelings…all of them.
What is the best process for someone who is doing the grieving?
- Be aware of the incomplete emotional relationship at the beginning of grief.
- Accept responsibility of one’s own pain.
- Identify recovery communications that you have not, but need to deliver.
- Take actions to communicate them.
- Move beyond loss and say good-bye as you deliver those final communications to the pain.
Last what is the correct way to be there for someone:
- Ask what happened and LISTEN without interrupting, sympathizing, or giving advice, etc. as they are in the process of answering.
- After you are sure they are done, you can say “I can’t imagine how heartbreaking that must have been for you.”
- Be empathetic and listen with your heart and feelings, not with your intellect.
- Stay in their moment, without thinking your own thoughts or ideas about what to say. Focus on their feelings, not yours.
Chance Scott, Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor
Victoria Scott, Marriage and Family Therapist
Shame vs. Guilt
Shame is highly correlated with depression, low self-worth, addictions ( substance abuse and sexual addiction), and eating disorders The difference between guilt and toxic shame can be described this way: Guilt is a healthy emotion that lets us know that our behavior did not match our values, so our BEHAVIOR needs to improve. Shame is when the mistake we make is because of WHO WE ARE; there is something wrong with OURSELVES. So, guilt is “I MADE a mistake” and shame is “I AM the mistake”. When we feel a lot of toxic shame about our “self”, we put on a false self. We become “symptomatic” because we are not okay with our authentic self. We may pick up symptoms such as protectionism, isolation from others, eating disorders, sex and drug addictions or even codependency (we overly serve) as well as depression. With these symptoms we are able to hide our “true” self with it’s shame. We truly believe that if someone knew who we truly are they would hate us like we hate ourselves. One unique characteristic about toxic shame is that it is transferred from generation to generation, in church, at school, and in our public life.
Individuals who struggle with a lot of toxic shame share some common characteristics such as having a hard time feeling all of their feelings (sad, bored, scared, and ashamed), having low self worth, not being okay with who they are, having a lack of intimacy in most of their relationships, and being egocentric. What I mean by egocentric is they take personally what other individuals do or say to them. Their hearts become hard and their emotions are not correctly expressed, which has a negative influence on their spirituality.
Family System: Shame affects the family system in many different ways as follows: the children aren’t allowed to express who they really are, there are unhealthy boundaries (rigid or distant), plus there is a “don’t talk” rule (especially about feelings and hard things). As a result the children are taught to deny their feelings and they may pick up “roles” that deny their true self in the family dynamics. They literally disconnect from their authentic self. The children will also be symptomatic: addicted to perfectionism and lacking emotional intimacy in their relationships.
There are many things that will promote healing for these clients. The starting point is for them to discover their true feelings and their true self. I believe if they can give themselves permission to feel and ACCEPT their feelings (the most intimate part about a human being) this alone will help the individual gradually work through the other things as long as healthy coping skills are in place. These skills include physical activity, meditation, spirituality, art work, and that which helps the individuals feel good about themselves. Healing length also depends on how serious the symptoms are, and what type of symptoms have been adopted.
12 Step Meetings (Adult child, Alanon, and AA)
LDS 12 Step Meetings: http://addictionrecovery.lds.org/?lang=eng
LDS Family Services
LDS Community Provider list:
Feelings Buried Alive Never Die by Karol K. Truman
Healing the Shame that Binds You, by John Bradshaw
The Shame-Based Family System, by John Bradshaw
Adult Child of Alcoholics, ACA
Boundaries & Boundaries in a Marriage, by Henry Cloud & John Townsend
He Did Deliver Me from Bondage, by Colleen Harrison
Any books authored by Brene Brown
Shame, Brene Brown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psN1DORYYV0