Shame is an emotion that is often present in depressive disorders. Shame is frequently considered a “secondary” emotion, or one that forms as a reaction to another emotion. Shame can be one of the most harmful and debilitating feelings people experience because it combines with other negative emotions to make a toxic brew. Individuals frequently feel ashamed of their negative feelings, and shame often serves to reinforce those emotions.
Shame may be confused with guilt. There’s a substantial difference, though. Guilt generally results from assessing your own behavior negatively. Shame, on the other hand, results from evaluating yourself negatively. Guilt is a feeling that comes from doing wrong, while shame comes from a feeling of being wrong. Guilt is often a potent motivator to change your behaviors. However, shame can make you feel that change is hopeless, as the problem is with a defect in yourself. Indeed, shame is a toxic emotion, but with the help of a clinical psychologist, you can learn to unpack the toxicity.
3 Ways to Deal with Toxic Shame
Depression can lead to toxic shame and destroy self-esteem. Here are three ways to deal with toxic shame:
- Realize it’s not you that is the problem, it is the depression.
Try to stop believing that depression is your fault and that you should be ashamed for not “shaking it off” or “pulling yourself out of it.” Depression is a clinical diagnosis, not your own internal defect. Do your best to stand back and view your condition as a neutral observer, and think objectively and logically that the symptoms you are experiencing are not caused by YOU, but by the medical condition you have. Therefore, it is not a sign of weakness and nothing to be ashamed of. Depression can cloud your vision of who you are, so you be aware of your negative thoughts.
- Take it one step at a time.
Depression can make many tasks seem overwhelming. To avoid being overwhelmed, break large tasks into small steps. Make a list for yourself and give yourself permission to complete each task by itself. Thus, you reduce your expectations and put less pressure on yourself. It doesn’t take as much energy to complete tasks on your list one thing at a time. Plus, you’ll receive a self-esteem building reward every time you cross something off your list.
- Ask for help.
Given the nature and reality of depression, it can be very challenging to motivate yourself to escape the belief that you’re not worthwhile, particularly if you cannot complete the goals you’ve set for yourself. Indeed, with this complex medical condition, it can be a challenge to get off the couch for the day. Asking for the encouragement from family and friends can help you achieve specific goals. Plus, they can cheer you on and celebrate with you when each goal is realized.
The help of a clinical psychologist can be essential to your recovery. An unbiased ear from an encouraging professional can help you see your way through the depression and shame. Do not hesitate to schedule a visit for depression treatment, like depression treatment in Palatine, IL, if you need help.
Thanks to Lotus Wellness Center for their insight into getting past the shame of depression with therapy.