All About Toxic Shame & How To Overcome it with CBT, Therapy & Counselling in Wolverhampton & West Midlands
What is Toxic Shame?
Toxic shame is a sense of shame that is so strong or pervasive that it negatively impacts on day-to-day living.
Everyone experiences shame at one time or another.
It’s an emotion with physical symptoms like any other that come and go, but when it’s severe, it can be extremely painful and when shame becomes toxic, it can ruin lives.
Strong feelings of shame stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, causing a fight/flight/freeze reaction.
We feel exposed and want to hide or react with rage, while feeling profoundly alienated from others and good parts of ourselves.
We may not be able to think or talk clearly and be consumed with self-loathing, which is made worse because we’re unable to be rid of ourselves.
We all have our own specific triggers or tender points that produce feelings of shame. The intensity of our experience varies, too, depending upon our prior life experiences, cultural beliefs, personality, and the activating event.
Unlike ordinary shame, “internalised shame” hangs around and alters our self-image.
For some people, toxic shame can monopolise their personality, while for others, it lies beneath their conscious awareness, but can easily be triggered.
Characteristics of Toxic Shame
Toxic shame differs from ordinary shame, which passes in a day or a few hours, in the following respects:
- It can hide in our unconscious, so that we’re unaware that we have shame.
- When we experience shame, it lasts much longer.
- The feelings and pain associated with shame are of greater intensity.
- An external event isn’t required to trigger it. Our own thoughts can bring on feelings of shame.
- It leads to shame spirals that cause depression and feelings of hopelessness and despair.
- It causes chronic “shame anxiety” — the fear of experiencing shame.
- It’s accompanied by voices, images, or beliefs originating in childhood and is associated with a negative “shame story” about ourselves.
- We needn’t recall the original source of the immediate shame, which usually originated in childhood or a prior trauma.
- It creates deep feelings of inadequacy.
Unhelpful Beliefs Based on Toxic Shame
The fundamental belief underlying shame is that “I’m unlovable — not worthy of knowing.” Most frequently, internalised shame manifests as one of the following beliefs;
- I’m stupid
- I’m unattractive (especially to a romantic partner)
- I’m a failure
- I’m a bad person
- I’m a fraud or a phony
- I’m selfish
- I’m not enough (this belief can be applied to numerous areas)
- I hate myself
- I don’t matter
- I’m defective or inadequate
- I shouldn’t have been born
- I’m unlovable
The Causes of Toxic Shame
In most cases, shame becomes internalised or toxic from chronic or intense experiences of shame in childhood.
Parents can unintentionally transfer their shame to their children through verbal messages or nonverbal behaviour.
For an example, a child might feel unloved in reaction to a parent’s depression, indifference, absence, or irritability or feel inadequate due to a parent’s competitiveness or over-correcting behavior.
Children need to feel uniquely loved by both parents.
When that connection is breached, such as when a child is scolded harshly (for example ‘you should feel ashamed of yourself‘), children feel alone and ashamed, unless the parent-child bond of love is soon repaired.
However, even if shame has been internalized, it can be surmounted by later positive experiences.
CBT for Toxic Shame
If you’re committed to overcoming your shame problems then we highly recommend following our Tranceformental CBT 10 session programme.
The Tranceformental programme is a highly successful & pragmatic course of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) run over 10 sessions, that will teach you everything you need to know to understand the psychological aspects of your problem.
It can also help you to identify any unhelpful thinking styles or limiting beliefs that might be reinforcing the issue.
The programme is also available as an online self-help CBT programme. if you prefer not to consult a therapist directly.
CBT is an empirically supported approach used by mental health practitioners around the World.
Free Initial Consultations for Toxic Shame
We offer all prospective clients an initial consultation to discuss your Toxic Shame prior to commencing any treatment plans.
The consultation is free and lasts around 50 minutes.
During this consultation we will discuss the various options that are available to you and make a considered recommendation based on your individual personal circumstances.
Initial consultations are also available as part of our online therapy service.
At TranceForm Psychology we recognise the importance of the therapeutic relationship in helping people to bring about effective change, so its important to be able to ‘meet’ to discuss our change programmes BEFORE proceeding.
Our policy is to help people make a fully balanced & considered decision about undertaking work with us, including both the financial and personal implications.
Overcome Your Problems with our CBT Course
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is clinically proven to be effective across a range of different mental health problems.
Using our online learning platform, it is available with 2, 5 or 10 sessions of clinical support either face-to-face in the Wombourne offices, or using Zoom video facilities.
It can also be taken as a self help CBT course that will teach you the fundamental tools and techniques used throughout the mental health profession.
Areas We Serve
Tranceform offers CBT, therapy & counselling for people living in:
- West Midlands
- South Staffordshire
For those living further afield, we also offer Online Therapy Services using Zoom.