Healing the Chronic Emotional Pain of Guilt and Shame

woman feeling guilt or shame

Negative emotions like guilt and shame, when carried and felt for 15 days out of thirty for three months or more, become a form of chronic pain.

Emotions are what we feel, not who we are

Emotions are what we feel, not who we are. Yet we allow them to dictate who we are, how we act, our choices, and how we experience life. Anger. Guilt. Annoyance. Shame. Sadness. Fear. Anxiety. Disappointment. Frustration. Discouragement. These are just a few emotions that create a negative space to live our life from. You can release yourself from the false chains these emotions have on you. Allowing feelings to come and go will help you to live your best life.

Understand how we use the words guilt and shame

Guilt and shame are taskmasters who help us build a prison for ourselves. The voice of guilt says, “I did the wrong thing, and I will sit and stay here in remorse.” The voice of shame says, “I will beat myself up because of it.” One is claiming something we did. The other is claiming who we ARE. Let’s be aware of how we are using these words and how we are labeling our behavior and ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong. We need to know right from wrong. We need to realize when we have crossed the line and behaved in an inappropriate way that causes damage to someone else, something else, or even ourselves. We make our amends to those we hurt. To allow ourselves to be swallowed by guilt and, even further, delve into shame is to lock ourselves in such a prison of suffering without the blessing of forgiveness; we create our own living hell.

Being shamed vs. feeling shamed

Let’s look at the difference between being shamed and feeling shamed. Sometimes when people are being held accountable for their behavior, they feel shame. Then, they think they’ve BEEN shamed because of the feeling that arises.

It’s essential to recognize the difference between feeling shame (“I am wrong”) and being shamed (“Someone told me I am wrong for what I am doing”). Discerning that difference is a powerful and essential emotional intelligence skill.

If you’re feeling shame because someone has brought the judgment of unconscious entitlement to your attention, take a moment to breathe and slow down and ask yourself this: Am I being shamed right now, or am I being triggered because I feel like someone is telling me I’m doing something wrong?

When we admit that we feel shame, and get honest about it, at least to ourselves, it loses its power. We reclaim a part of ourselves.

The value of forgiveness

The value of forgiveness – of us to others, of others to us when we have harmed them in some way, of ourselves – is that it releases us from this relentless, overwhelming prison we build in our guilt and the consequent shame that often follows. Forgiveness cancels out the power of guilt and shame as taskmasters. Forgiveness brings us into a sense of compassion where we can recognize the suffering of the person who acted inappropriately, whether it was us, someone in our family, or another loved one, without condoning the action. In forgiveness, we affirm that we choose to live in compassion rather than in the pain of suffering.

Embrace the freedom of forgiveness through compassion and heal

Our mind can be rooted in the past through resentment, but through compassion, the heart can rewrite that story through our willingness to forgive, let go, and end the suffering. Remember, you are who you are in this moment, not who you have been. You are a radiant being of light and love. Will you choose guilt and shame, or can you decide to embrace the freedom of forgiveness through compassion?

Be gentle with yourself

To learn more about healing from chronic pain – physical, emotional, or spiritual – join me for this donation-based 12-part The Way Through Chronic Pain: Tools to Reclaim Your Healing Power Course.

In partnership with Anna Pereira and The Wellness Universe, the course runs the first Tuesday of every month 6 pm -7 pm (CST)/7 pm-8 pm (EST) through May 2, 2023. All registrants have access to the replays of each class. Register here bit.ly/TWTCPElizabethKipp

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