Getting Past the Shame
Ernest S. Schmidt, LCSW
Despite the efforts of healthcare professionals worldwide, there’s an undying stigma attached to seeking counseling. People tend to associate therapy with poor mental health. They think that if they have to resort to seeing a professional therapist, they must be crazy. Or, perhaps worse, others will think that they’re crazy.
Other people, especially men, think that needing therapy is a sign of weakness. So they suffer in silence for years upon years, all to save face or appear strong before others, when they could have experienced relief within months with the help of an experienced counselor.
Even the toughest person on the planet feels fear, shame, anxiety, joy, and every range of emotion in between from time to time.
Unfortunately, what these people fail to realize is that their prideful attitude is what can get them into trouble in the first place. These people have been conditioned to believe that sharing their innermost feelings and – heaven forbid – showing any kind of emotion exposes them as the wimp they must be for feeling concern in the first place. They don’t realize that even the toughest person on the planet feels fear, shame, anxiety, joy, and every range of emotion in between from time to time.
It’s what makes us human.
People also don’t understand that the shame that stems from their “negative” feelings can actually make them feel worse than the emotion itself. If people try to suppress their depression or anxiety because they think they shouldn’t be feeling those emotions, they’re only compounding the situation. In fact, the shame we attach to feelings of sadness or anxiety makes working through them 100 times worse than if we just dealt with the root of the problem headfirst. Believe it or not, sometimes the majority of the pain we feel is actually because of the shame, not the underlying emotion itself.
Opening up to someone you trust about a situation that worries or upsets you can be a great way to simply air your concerns. The very act of getting your thoughts out in the open can help you see things in a new light, and possibly gain reassurances that others have been in your shoes, which can make a world of difference when you feel defeated and alone. Just talking to someone else can make you feel as if a weight has been lifted from your shoulders because you’re no longer carrying the entire burden of your feelings.
Talking to a trusted loved one can be the first step in working through tough times in your life. If that doesn’t seem to help, an experienced counselor can help you work through the painful feelings that we all experience at one time or another. Once you push past your shame, relinquish the worries about what others will think, and take that all-important first step toward seeking help, you’ll put yourself on the road to a happier, more fulfilled life.
Contact us to schedule an appointment by calling 650-461-9026