Feeling bad about something awful you just did is okay. Feeling horrible over the fact that you might have hurt somebody is a good thing. However, feeling bad about yourself, especially if you’re not finding any reasons why, might mean you have to deal with something else—the elusive and deceitful thing called toxic shame.
What is toxic shame?
Let’s first define shame:
a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety
Toxic shame has been widely talked about, at least among researchers, especially when considering the following points:
- If you’re feeling shame, then you should be feeling guilt, too.
- But why feel guilt?
- Isn’t shame and guilt the same thing?
- Shame shouldn’t be all bad.
Remember that person you respect? That person you look up to because at some point in her life she had to go through a ton of obstacles, for so many years, having to experience even pain you could only imagine happening to yourself, but she still managed to do the right thing, even though everybody thought it was hopeless? Perhaps that’s the epitome of something that deserves the hat tip while you utter, “Respect.”
On the other hand, I bet you can also name someone who had everything at their disposal, in their power, to destroy someone—however “destroy” meant—but they had the choice of not doing it because, hey, that’s just morally wrong now, isn’t it? But then, they still went on with the stupid and pointless attack? Well, how did you feel about that? Did that person earn your respect?
Passively living your life is dangerous. Maybe you already know too well how that is, maybe not. Perhaps you have to fulfill some conditions so you can move towards your goals of living independently…and free. That’s a good direction.
On the other hand, it might seem you already have it all. This may be worse. If you have everything—especially if you didn’t earn it—you may be deprived of the very basic human capability to thrive.
In any case, there’s only one thing you can control: yourself. Regardless of your circumstances. Maybe you just had no idea.
We drove to where the wake was held. We were laughing upon getting there. But as we got out of the car, we felt the gloom that was in the air. “We’re here,” I sighed.
Someone’s passed away again. There have been two deaths within this year, I thought.
While we were staying on the final night, listening to the eulogy and talking to friends, it hit me just how huge the impact of the idea of death on one’s life can be. Thoughts on death ensued in my head.
I’d contend that our self-esteem becomes strongest when we’re alone working towards our grand goals. It always seems to ask us what we’re actually made of in finishing even just a single task.
It sucks sometimes. Do we work best when we’re alone?
Anyway, understanding how to overcome low self-esteem entails understanding how it starts in the first place. There are things we tend to forget whenever we feel down, worthless … the downward spiral and all that.