This is an inevitable part of grieving. In contrast to guilt, which makes us feel bad for doing some-thing wrong, we feel shame for being something wrong or bad. Thus, guilt seems to be correctable or forgivable, whereas there seems to be no way out of shame.
Shame is universal to being human. If we do not work through it and then let go of it, shame tends to accumulate and burden us more and more, until we even become its victim. I had to write about shame in my book, The Natural Soul, because of my own experiences and because our patients share their bundle of shame and grief with us so often. What I’ve learned along the way is that there is a way out.
Talking about our shame or low self-esteem to safe others is a way to alleviate it. Support groups are also a safe place to express this type of pain. Be aware that, as long as we are in the grieving process, we will have an underlying sense of low self-esteem. It’s a part of grieving that seems to stick around until the end of the process.
My experience and the experience of others I have helped most often shows an increase in self-esteem when we have completed our grief work. We don’t return to the same life because we are not the same person as when we started. Life is different because we are different. There are sometimes hidden gifts we receive in our life from the losses of our past, and in the event of the loss of a loved one.
Charlie and I both hope that, as you work through your shame and feelings of low self-esteem, that you will be compassionate toward yourself, and understand that you are doing important and healthy work that can both increase your self-esteem and help you to leave suffering behind.
Have you had experience working with shame and low self-esteem?
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