Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH.
This past Wednesday, I went to my weekly therapy session feeling a bit under the weather mentally. As I shared two weeks ago, I’ve been recognizing my own personal signs of when things are getting mentally bad again. Going to therapy isn’t ever an issue for me; in most cases, it actually makes me feel some clarity about the abstract emotions in my head and it gives me a little boost to try and get through the day as best as possible. This week, in particular, I wasn’t feeling it. I just didn’t feel like sharing the things that were getting me in the mood that I’ve been in, but I still dragged myself out of the house to go to my appointment.
Without realizing it, I put on this façade and declared my mood as, “I’m doing good!”
Good thing my therapist isn’t a bullshitter and saw right through it, so this session became a much more serious one than I expected.
Without even realizing it, I started to admit that I can’t shake this mechanism of me not showing my feelings or emotions (negative ones, in particular) to the people around me for a numerous of reasons. I tend to feel like the source of my emotions and feelings are stupid and not worthy of being upset over. I tend to feel like a burden to those who are around me if I’m sad and everyone else is content. I tend to feel embarrassed with myself after I try to share that I’m not okay. I tend to judge myself and what it means to be me in this body; in other words, I tend to judge myself for not being the “happy and bubbly” person that people know me as.
That is when it was suggested that I carry a lot of shame on myself. This isn’t the first time my therapist has told me this.
So, it had me thinking. I went home to see if there was such thing as “carrying shame onto yourself” and boy, was I shocked to see it be an actual thing. Ladies and gentlemen, we need to talk about the issue of toxic shame.
Toxic shame, in a nutshell, is when you subconsciously hold yourself back from expressing yourself to others, being yourself with others, and feeling the need to fulfill this persona that others (and yourself) portray you as. When you don’t allow yourself to be human, you begin to feel ashamed of yourself for being the way that you are that isn’t the ideal person you want to be in public. In other words, you bully yourself into your own shame.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t leave you being unapologetic about yourself. Instead of embracing who you may be (and that includes the negative, toxic traits you may have as well), you are ashamed of being your authentic self, and most-likely carry a lot of self-judgment and pressure on yourself. This type of shame is usually connected with people who don’t have the greatest self-esteem or great outlook on themselves. Sometimes, you get so used to being this way and living your life the way you do, that sometimes you really don’t know when you’re punishing yourself for being you. That’s a huge deal.
It’s hard these days to see where you belong in this world and what your role is while being on it. Will you be extraordinary and legendary? Will you be great in your field of work? Would you just be another face in the world with the same old routine? Will you lose it? Die young? Become a criminal? It’s so weird to think about, but we honestly don’t know where our lives are heading and that part scares me the most. I believe I was put into this world to tell stories of survival, imagination, and to be a voice for young people who may be too scared to express themselves. In this persona, I forced myself to “always appear fine out in public even when all I wanna do is crawl back into bed and cry my eyes out on bad, depressed days”. I also forced myself to care about other feelings more than I should, even though I allow the struggles and business of other people’s feelings to impact my mood and day because “I’m an empathetic person”, and most importantly, I punish myself for being sad, depressed, anxious; pretty much anything negative that may reflect this image I have for myself.
Without realizing I was doing this to myself, I’ve been my own worst enemy. I’ve been the one judging myself the hardest, bullying myself for the longest, and keeping myself from growing. I’ve been the one holding me back from my own process. I couldn’t see past the toxic traits and bad habits and unhealthy things I was doing and because of that, I never fully allowed myself to carve away at myself to truly reveal who I really am.
I know there are so many of you guys out there who read this and kept nodding your head, making realizations yourselves. And with this realization, I hope you keep this in mind when you’re feeling yourself masking parts of you that you shouldn’t, or blocking yourself from feeling things that you should be feeling. And understand that a lot of our own personal problems begin with just us: period.
I feel like we need to be talking about toxic shame because we live in such an already artificial world that it’s so hard to see where you belong and how you should be acting. We constantly compare ourselves, we think we aren’t good enough for other people, we believe we have to be a certain way in order to be accepted into society, and we’re constantly struggling to find out who we really are as people in a world that are moving entirely too fast for us to keep up with. We are training our youth they have to be this, that, and the third to be accepted, liked, and praised without ever fully knowing if that’s who they truly are or not. It’s such an important thing to be aware of because toxic shame can lead to dangerous things when unrecognized, and when it gets too severe.
So, a note to you guys and to myself: take it easy, take care of yourself and the body you are living in, and embrace it: you’ve been uniquely designed and you are allowed to show it!