In recovery, learning to process emotions is a key part of the healing journey. This is done by fostering emotional awareness.

This includes learning that emotions come and go, following a natural arc of peaks and declines. It also involves observing all  your emotions , and courageously examining what they reveal about your true self. Your have emotions, but you are not your emotions. Remembering that is a key to positive mental health.

Guilt

Guilt is the emotion you experience when you feel that you’ve done something wrong. While feeling guilty is a normal part of human life, it’s important to recognize when guilt is unhealthy and out of proportion to the transgressions you believe you’ve committed. This can be a sign that you’ve started to develop a guilt complex.

A common sign that you’re suffering from a guilt complex is when you start to feel a sense of constant regret and remorse over small things. These kinds of feelings are often the result of lingering patterns, or samskaras, that are lodged in your subconscious. They can take away your joy and make it hard to live a full, fulfilling life.

To overcome these toxic feelings, it’s necessary to learn how to forgive yourself. This will help you take away the excessive power of neurotic mental rumination and get back in tune with your heart and body. Forgiving yourself can be difficult, especially if you have experienced trauma or a painful childhood. One way to deal with guilt is to realize that it is a natural response to an imperfect world and that you’re not perfect, but even people who murder are released after 20 years. Another way to forgive yourself is to recognize that we are constantly learning and evolving, and that we make the best decisions we can based on the level of wisdom we have attained at that moment.  Holding onto guilt is like holding onto revenge. “Revenge is like a punctured water vessel…it holds only the promise of emptiness”. Chinese saying.

Shame

Shame is the emotion that we feel when we see ourselves as being flawed beyond redemption. It can be triggered by any number of things, including childhood trauma, relationship disappointments, social rejection, and body image issues. Shame is often tied to mental health issues, like depression. The good news is that you can learn to work with your shame in a way that doesn’t lead to self-destructive behaviors or interpersonal disconnection.

Unlike guilt, which can be elicited by either internal or external factors, shame is most commonly triggered by one’s own actions and perceived transgressions. However, it’s also possible to experience vicarious guilt and shame, feelings experienced as a result of witnessing the misdeeds of others. It’s important to recognize that not all forms of shame are negative. Occasional experiences of shame are completely normal and actually a sign that we’re connected to others. It’s when shame becomes chronic that it starts to interfere with our well-being.

The perception of being shameful is accompanied by feelings of disgust and self-deprecation. These emotions trigger a fight-flight-freeze response in the body, which can lead to a variety of avoidance behaviors, including hiding, staying numb, and blaming others. People who are prone to shame may also engage in safety behaviors, such as raging and attacking, pushing others away. This cyclical pattern can be highly destructive, as it keeps us from delving into relationships and reverts back to avoidance behavior over time.

It’s no surprise that shame is a major barrier to connection and has been linked to violence, addiction, and other forms of self-destructive behavior. Neuro-biologically, we’re wired for connection and when we are disconnected from other people it can be extremely hard to heal.

Fear

Fear is the basic human emotion triggered by any perceived threat or danger. It triggers the body’s innate “fight, flight or freeze” response, which can lead to physiological changes such as an increased heart rate and adrenaline levels. It also affects cognition, including attention, memory and judgment. Fear is a key survival mechanism that can help us detect potential threats in our environment and make decisions accordingly, however, chronic states of fear can be very destructive and often occur with those suffering from PTSD. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

While there are a number of different ways that people express fear, there are some common themes. For example, some people may become numb or disconnected from their emotions while others may feel overwhelmed and anxious. In addition, some people have a hard time telling the difference between fear and excitement, often as a result of earlier trauma.  Regardless of the cause, it’s important to understand how fear works in order to overcome it and live a more authentic life.

To reclaim your authentic true self, you must learn to listen to your body and the world around you. This means dropping the mental commentary that says you need to protect yourself in all circumstances, or  prove yourself to others, or do things a certain way. It also means letting go of the idea that you need to achieve anything in order to be worthy or good enough. Human beings are worthwhile regardless of their achievements, contrary to popular thinking.

Authenticity is about being our true selves in all situations. This means that we must be able to be vulnerable and express our thoughts, feelings, and quirks, in a way that is authentic, without blaming others, without bragging, and without being defensive.  It also means that we must prioritize healthy relationships and activities, and avoid toxic ones.

Using a compassionate tone of voice, we can encourage our inner authentic self to emerge and be heard. Our thoughts and feelings represent our current level of evolvement. Being wrong about something does not make us less than others, nor does being right make us better.

Humiliation

Amidst the journey of understanding emotions as a gateway to our genuine selves, it’s vital to recognize the grievous consequences of humiliation, particularly when rooted in PTSD experiences. Humiliation, often stemming from distressing events, can create a formidable barrier to unveiling our authentic selves, impacting our well-being in profound ways.

Humiliation triggered by traumatic events can embed itself deeply within our emotional landscape. It’s like a heavy weight that pulls us down, distorting our self-perception and obstructing our path to authenticity. Those grappling with the aftermath of trauma might find themselves haunted by vivid memories of being belittled, degraded, or violated. Such experiences can erode self-esteem and amplify feelings of worthlessness, making it arduous to express thoughts and emotions genuinely.

Moreover, PTSD-related humiliation can breed an insidious cycle of avoidance behaviors. When memories or situations reminiscent of the traumatic event arise, an intense fight-or-flight response might be triggered. This can lead to a retreat from social interactions, a heightened state of alertness, or even lashing out as a defensive mechanism. The chronic loop of evading perceived threats hampers our capacity to form meaningful relationships and indulge in authentic self-expression.

The impact of PTSD-induced humiliation is far-reaching, infiltrating diverse facets of life. It has been correlated with heightened aggression, substance abuse, and self-destructive tendencies. Furthermore, this emotional burden casts a shadow on the neural circuits that underpin human connection. Neurologically wired for companionship, individuals ensnared by the clutches of humiliation often find themselves isolated, struggling to bridge the gap to others.

Understanding the intricate web of emotions as a conduit to authenticity unveils the gravity of humiliation, especially within the context of PTSD. The journey towards embracing one’s true self becomes a formidable endeavor when laced with the remnants of humiliation. By delving into these emotions and their lasting effects, we pave a way towards healing and forging genuine loving  connections with both ourselves and others.

Here are some questions for you to consider to continue your healing journey:

  1. How does fostering emotional awareness and learning to process emotions contribute to the journey of addiction recovery? Specifically, how does recognizing the natural arc of emotions and courageously examining fears aid individuals in unveiling their authentic selves.
  2. What does it mean to be our authentic true-self, and how can working to achieve that help in the journey towards an addiction free life?
  3. How does the emotion of shame impact individuals’ ability to connect with others and embrace their authentic selves? How does shame differ from guilt and humiliation?