Some of the most stubborn cases I see in my clinic are with clients suffering from underlying guilt and shame. There are not many more paralysing emotions that these toxic emotions, to halt one’s ability to move forwards.
When a person runs their whole psychology on guilt and shame, the belief is that they do not deserve to be happy. This can then manifest in many ways. Guilt and shame are only some of the ways that people come to believe that they are not good enough. Other ways can include being abused, being neglected, being in competition with another, etcetera. But when guilt is at the root of this belief, it creates a stranglehold on the person’s ability to break that cycle and come to accept that actually, being good enough is a matter of choice. This is because they have a ‘reason’ for believing that they are not good enough, and never will be, because of what they have done.
Shame is very similar, except that if the person feels shame due to another’s treatment of them, it is actually less complicated to move from feeling ashamed to feeling good enough, because it was not themselves who did that terrible thing. When the shame stems from one’s own actions however, it becomes an almost identical problem to guilt. That’s the kind of shame we are talking about here.
How long will you punish yourself with guilt and shame?
Having a conscience is a good thing. Without it, we would all be narcissistic sociopaths or have some other psychological disorder. Responsibility is a good thing, as long as it is reasonable. Accountability is a good thing. it helps us to learn and grow and develop. But when a person cannot forgive themselves for the thing that they have done, they are effectively saying, ‘OK that’s it, my life has stopped and there is no point continuing’, because any personal development ceases while that guilt and shame runs the show.
Guilt and shame tethers you to your past, and disables your ability to move forwards. You may regret your actions for the rest of your life, but these become learning experiences, whereas when you are stuck in guilt and shame, you have stopped learning. Making amends with the mistakes that you have made is what is required. Perhaps you were young and inexperienced, or you acted under extreme pressure or stress, when you made those regrettable mistakes. Perhaps you were simply being selfish or thoughtless, but now you can see where you went wrong. The fact that you feel so guilty in itself means that you can see where you went wrong. This is evidence that you have already begun to change.
Hypnotherapy can help you to overcome guilt and shame while assisting you to forgive yourself and your actions. That doesn’t mean that what you did is OK, it means that you can learn to separate those actions from who you are as a growing, evolving being. This allows you to learn from your past and to move forwards with wisdom.
If you need help overcoming guilt and shame, we can help. Horizons Clinical Hypnotherapy Sunshine Coast.