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Shame and self-sabotage

Do you feel that you’re just not good enough? Feelings of shame and low-self worth can be enormously self-destructive, leading to a host of problematic behaviours and self-sabotage. In therapy, you can get help understanding why just don’t feel good enough, and get help moving forward.


What is a feeling of pervasive shame?

If you were rude or thoughtless, feeling a sense of shame is normal and healthy. You can recover from a “normal” feeling of shame by making amends or behaving differently the next time.

an uncomfortable feeling of guilt or of being ashamed because of your own or someone else’s bad behaviour

— The Cambridge Dictionary

Pervasive shame is different. It is a feeling that your entire being is flawed. Pervasive shame may not be linked to a single action or incident. In this type of shame, there is no clear-cut path to “get back” to feeling good about yourself. On some level, you become convinced that you are the problem. You may feel like you’re a bad person, deserving of scorn, or insufficient as a person.

If you experience persistent deep-seated shame and low self-esteem, you may be unaware that shame is driving personal problems and harmful behaviors.

Self-check: 4 signs that you suffer from persistent feelings of shame and self-doubt

If you answer yes to one or more of the questions, it is probably time to seek out professional help that can help you get relief from persistent, pervasive feelings of shame and low self-esteem.

  1. Do you have difficulty accepting compliments?

  2. When you achieve success, do you find it difficult to enjoy your success?

  3. Do you constantly doubt yourself or just don’t feel “good enough”?

  4. Are you successful externally but feel on the inside that you are a fraud or an imposter?

Some people are able to juggle profound feelings of shame for quite a long time, even if they realize that their feelings are disproportionate to some external objective measure. Then, a crisis hits. When there is more external pressure, you can get stuck, feel overwhelmed, and realize that your professional career or personal relationships are being impacted.

Past relationships, abuse, accidents, or experiencing physical trauma can create shame. In many cases, however, deep shame stems from relational and emotional trauma – especially childhood trauma, sexual abuse, and trauma from repeated experiences of loss. CBT, EMDR, and hypnotherapy can be very effective in treating trauma and eliminating the emotional fuel that powers feelings of shame.

Where do feelings of shame, self-doubt, and self-sabotage come from?

What can you hope to gain in therapy?

  1. Gain more clarity on what is happening.

  2. Gain tools to cope better so that when you are overwhelmed you can get your feelings down into a more manageable range.

  3. Do some healing from past experiences so that you aren’t so reactive or triggered by things that are happening.

  4. Life after therapy should feel easier, less catastrophic.

  5. You should feel stronger and better and more confident.

Our goals in therapy are very grounded and include starting to feel improvement around the third or fourth session. Get in touch for a free consultation, where we can talk more about your needs and goals for therapy.

Based in Vancouver, Katelynn A Bandmann, RCC, provides online therapy to residents of British Columbia

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