Shame and self loathing- the difference ?

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Sheppane

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Shame and self loathing- the difference ?
« on: July 27, 2021, 03:14:10 PM »
I'm having a hard time understanding myself right now. I've fallen into what I believe is a shame spiral yet I don't seem to have the full spectrum of all of it. But what I do seem to be stuck on is self loathing and a toxic inner voice. Maybe its more of a toxic inner voice spiral? It goes like this : I've been feeling extremely tired,  exhausted, sleeping poorly,  a bit detached and brain foggy. Finding it hard to connect with myself or feel grounded in anyway. Not feeling terribly emotional but perhaps a bit distant/ disconnected/ numb. Can't quite tell how much is just tiredness / exhaustion. Anyway today I got triggered by a small remark from someone - nothing very significant other than I felt unseen and a bit small/ minimised. I felt like I wanted to cry like a child. Did some journalling and very quickly saw how I felt " stupid / small / pathetic/ ugly / fat / a useless parent/ don't have many friends/ idiot " and much more of the same nature but in language not appropriate for this site! I was very tearful at the time in a way that felt like a release. Some anger underneath also I think - don't know whether directed at others and turned on myself or just turned on myself for some reason.

I know it was a disproportionate response and must have tapped into something deep in me. I then acted out by compulsively overeating , and as a result worsening the feelings of self loathing . A self sabotage I guess.

I'm wondering does anyone else experience these types of episodes? And is it shame or self loathing or both? The reason is I don't believe fundamentally I feel I am " not enough " - which I think is key to shame. Or is that just denial? Is it so far down that I'm not even aware ?
To me it feels more like intense self loathing,  or anger directed inwards.  I'm confused and exhausted.
I'm trying to practice kindness and recognise that my inner child feels triggered right now,  though I'm not sure why. On one level since the episode which involved a large sobbing cry like a child I wonder is it grief too ?
But what would shame/ self loathing do for me? In what way would this behaviour " help " if even in an unhealthy manner these thought processes/ behaviours  presumably have some positive/ protective effects?

Appreciate any feedback!

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all4peace

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Re: Shame and self loathing- the difference ?
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2021, 05:02:47 PM »
Does it feel like it would be helpful to have an appropriate name for this? Could it also be helpful to acknowledge that there's an icky feeling that may be shame, or it may be self-loathing, or it may be something else?

I feel for you. I have experienced extended episodes of overwhelming bad feelings that felt like they'd never go away. For me, the most helpful thing in the beginning was starting to notice that I was having feelings, but I was not my feelings. Does that make sense? Then I started to notice that they didn't last forever. It made it easier to eventually learn to ride them out instead of turning to a multitude of other unhealthy coping mechanisms. Those mechanisms would create shame for me, turning it into a vicious cycle.

There's a way of understanding all those parts of us called Internal Family Systems. It sounds a little technical, but the basic premise is that we all get wounded in childhood. In order to protect our tiny vulnerable child selves, parts of us develop to protect us. Some of them are managerial and task oriented ("You must do everything perfectly or nobody will love you!") and some of them are firefighting and doing anything to keep us from feeling the pain ("Eating a bag of chocolate chips is the answer to this pain!"), and there are very tender, young, and in-pain parts struggling to stay hidden ("Nobody will love me, I can't do anything right, I'm not safe, I'm flawed.")

You have already demonstrated considerable skill in noticing so many of these parts inside of you, and it sounds like even journaled about your experience. What do you think it might be like to get curious about what wonderful, if now-not-helpful thing each part is attempting to do to keep you protected?

If you're open to therapy, a therapist could help you work through these understandable and difficult trauma responses. For now, we're here, you're not alone, and it sounds to me like your self has been working really hard to keep you functioning and may be getting really tired out. I hope you find something that helps. <3

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Sheppane

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Re: Shame and self loathing- the difference ?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2021, 07:44:57 PM »
That's very helpful all4peace,  thank you. It helps even just to have the identification. " I am not my feelings " does help , and exactly as you said the episode does pass. Infact sometimes quickly too. I think what happens is I get caught trying to name what's going on..I guess that is perhaps a trauma response in itself? For some reason when you asked "does it feel like it would be helpful to have an appropriate name for this ?" I felt an overwhelming strong sense of - yes , 100% , I feel like I want to "name " it. That is a pattern I have noticed in therapy too, always wanting to name whatever it is and seeking the validation from my therapist that either a) I am " right" to feel how I feel and b) whether trauma is the appropriate term to reflect my experiences,  always feeling that others trauma is worse and I am making a big deal out of nothing. So perhaps some of wanting to "name" my experiences is also around validating my own perceptions to be true. I think it's also to do with trauma and wondering what else lurks around my psyche,  why I get so triggered by atmosphere,  even the layout of a room sometimes,  and how my conscious mind is sometimes not even aware of all these triggers it sometimes "collects " over the course of a few days sometimes until it spills out into this kind of unmanageable episode. I think my triggers are often very subtle so it makes it harder for me to spot.

I'm very grateful for the reminder about internal family systems- I had actually come across this in recent months on YouTube and started listening to Richard schwartz  but I clean forgot about it ! I will listen to it again. What you said about firefighting makes total sense ( chocolate/ chips will make me better) and especially the tender young in pain parts- I think they are the parts that come out in the middle of these episodes .

And thinking about it now maybe that's how the self loathing " serves " me - by keeping these in pain parts in check and saying hateful spiteful things so the young tender part is too afraid to allow the pain to be felt or at least to stay hidden ? Might it be that if the tender parts that are in pain came out and were seen the adult self / or the young part feels it would not be able to cope- so it is easier to shut it down with toxic commentary rather than allow it come out and potentially threaten the whole system ? Or maybe has no trust in adult self to look after it ?

Hmmm. A lot to think on. 🤔

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pianissimo

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Re: Shame and self loathing- the difference ?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2021, 09:16:50 PM »
In my case, shame is usualy triggered by people or events outside me. It comes and goes. It's about how others think of me. It's like there is this outside force that wants me to disappear and it's painful to resist to it. But, self-loathing feels a bit subtle and it's more about how I see myself. I'm so used to it, I don't recognize it. I usually notice my self loating when I unintentionally direct it to others. For example, last year, I lived in an apartment with a sea view, but it never felt right. I felt like an impostor pretending to have figured things out. An apartment with a sea view? That's not me. I'm a loser, that sea view is wasted on me. It's a bit funny to think about it this way but that's genuinely how I feel about anything nice or fancy. There was this time I shared my thoughts about an apartment with a sea view with somebody else and that person was offended. I possibly triggered shame or some other negative feeling in him. That's because, most people in my circle live in apartments with a sea view.

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Poison Ivy

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Re: Shame and self loathing- the difference ?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2021, 10:18:32 PM »
For me, sometimes these feelings overlap but not always. I feel shame about things I've done; I feel self-loathing about who I am.

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Sheppane

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Re: Shame and self loathing- the difference ?
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2021, 02:09:42 PM »
"It's like there is this outside force that wants me to disappear and it's painful to resist to it. But, self-loathing feels a bit subtle and it's more about how I see myself" - yes thanks Pianissimo that helps. I think the self loathing is more subtle and all the posts here have cleared up for me a bit the differebce between shame and self loathing. Shame feels more like it is in relation to others/ that feeling that I don't want to be seen whereas self loathing exists only in relation to me I think- as in, another party does not need to be involved for me to feel self loathing.
I'm working hard to release these very destructive ways of thinking about myself and its interesting to think how the two might be related. Or how trauma binds them together. As you said PoisonIvy often there is some overlap. So I'm wondering in my case anyway perhaps some outside force/ person triggers a feeling of shame in me and because it feels so painful I then layer the self loathing on top of it - in some way to "justify " the shame ?? I cant figure out why I would do that though. Because deep down a lot of these trauma based patterns are protective and its hard to see what the " benefit " to self loathing might be. Maybe it's just a distraction from feeling painful feelings of shame,  or an inability to reject feelings of shame and instead to jump in and agree with the shaming message. I don't know really ! I find once I figure these knots out it makes it much more workable when the pattern comes up next time.

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notrightinthehead

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Re: Shame and self loathing- the difference ?
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2021, 03:56:07 AM »
I call it self hatred. Reading your post made me aware that it has been a while since that wave washed over me. The last time I experienced it, I told my CoDA group about it. And I used mindfulness techniques to actually fully experience it.  It lasted several days. The feeling is so unpleasant for me that normally I would do anything to run away from it. It could be self soothing by eating, physical exercise, house cleaning, calling a friend, binge watching a mindless TV show...anything to just not feel that fearful, horrible feeling. 
Last time - by then I had decided to not run from unpleasant feelings anymore, to fully feel them but not act on them - I did mindfulness breathing and went into the feeling and truly felt it. Then I did an internet search on how to love myself.  Strange to have to find out how this is done, but amazing how much good information on the topic is out there.  So obviously, I am not the only one who needs instruction on this.  And I have put some excellent articles on my wall,  I read them now and again, now less often than a few month ago. I listen to self love meditations whenever I think I need it. Do a search and you will be amazed how much is out there.
The thing is for me - I could not just stop the self hatred. I had to modify/replace it with something else and what could be better than self love/self acceptance.  Because it is there for a reason,   even if I don't know that reason, trying to be helpful but not very efficient at it.
There is another technique - thought stop.  Whenever I become aware of the critical voice in my head going on and on about my shortcomings, I actually say out loud "give me a break!" Enough now. This is not fair. And I force myself to think something good about myself. And I read my lists on how to love myself AGAIN!
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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pianissimo

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Re: Shame and self loathing- the difference ?
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2021, 05:33:11 PM »
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I actually say out loud "give me a break!" Enough now. This is not fair.

Thanks for saying that. Today I found myself falling into  the spiral of shame over a memory about something silly I did and I ended up telling myself out loud "That moment wasn't my finest but it's not such a big deal, leave me alone!". Then, I realized I was talking to myself, and wondered if others do it too. At that point, the healthy part of me had gained control and it told me "If they don't, lucky them".

Sheppane, in my case, some kind of hate also comes with shame, but, I am able to recognize that the hatred doesn't belong to me.  For me, toxic shame and the hatred that comes with are feelings of the past (emotional flashbacks?) that take over how I feel in the moment. I feel the shame and the hatred when I find myself in situations similar to the ones I was toxic-shamed as a child. Everyday life situations make me feel toxic shame because when I was a child my older brother shamed me for insignificant things (like the way I greet people, the way I present myself, something I say...). So, when I feel toxic shame, I recognize the hatred as something that belonged to my older brother in the past. I must say that I still feel the shame and the hatred. To help with my situation, I watch YouTube videos about toxic shame. I find Patrick Teehan's video about toxic shame very helpful.

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What is the benefit of self-loathing?
This question intrigued me. In my case, my default self-loathing (the one without shame) makes me think perhaps I'm not living my truth. But, I'm not hundred percent if this is the reason because there is something about my father about the way I'm dismissive about things that make life more joyful. Then, I'm also at a point in my life where I wonder if my father had a point in living in (and making us live in) some kind of survival mode. I find myself resentfully agreeing with some of the things he did and some of the values he has. But, then, do I find myself agreeing with him about certain things because I have come to the same conclusions on my own or is it because I am conditioned to come to those conclusions? Anyways, apparently these are the questions I have to find answers to. Thanks for your post.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2021, 05:38:05 PM by pianissimo »