Dr. Alexa Altman is back to discuss healthy shame versus toxic shame.
First she explains the difference between guilt and shame. Shame is when we feel bad and wholeheartedly disconnected and alone. Guilt is when we do something bad, and more focused on behaviors. So shame would be more of an internal experience whereas guilt would be more driven by an external behavior.
Toxic shame is associated with abuse and trauma because when something bad or hurtful happens, and we feel alone, we aren’t given the chance to talk about it and process it. Therefore, we walk around in our life acting out of past shame and can even fall into more toxic relationships because we believe that’s all we are worthy of. It is because of the lack of conversation and reconnection that makes this toxic. Shame itself isn’t toxic, but without proper support and conversation around it, it can become toxic.
Healthy shame is one way that we navigate our social world, because it creates healthy boundaries and keeps us safe. Like Alexa’s example of yelling at her child to stop before running into the street, by creating healthy shame in that scenario, she was able to keep her son safe. Once that shame is expressed, we can then talk about it (ie. why I yelled, and what I was worried about) so that there can be a shame repair. Repair happens when a new narrative is created that helps us understand what really happened, and let us know that we are not alone or bad.
All of this is important to know because when we are trying to heal from past trauma, it can help to focus on the story we tell ourselves and work to make it a more loving and accepting one. I hope this video was helpful! We will have another video coming out about shame resilience, so make sure you are subscribed! xox
Alexa’s Instagram: @dr.alexa_altman
Her website: https://lamaida.org/
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I’m Kati Morton, a licensed therapist making Mental Health videos – Depression, Eating Disorders, Anxiety, Self-Harm and more! Mental health shouldn’t have a stigma attached to it.
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