It’s a vicious cycle. Something triggers a big emotion – we say or do something we regret – we feel bad about what we said or did and ALSO now feel ashamed we lost control of our emotions. This makes us want to avoid big feelings so we don’t get to that point again. We try to hold the lid on the pot but it just boils over again – we say we are sorry and then kick ourselves again. It’s a vicious cycle. Dr. Brené Brown, shame researcher says “Shame is such a powerful emotion that it can literally overcome us.”
Children and adults who struggle with emotion regulation often get caught up in this shame cycle. There are many causes of emotion regulation difficulties – processing issues, trauma, autism, adhd, premature birth, learning disabilities and more. It’s important when working with those caught in a shame cycle – to use empowering and strength based language. Critical language and consequence based attempts to motivate or change behaviors often just feed the shame monster.
Shame can also send someone into survival mode, leading to emotion dysregulation – AKA waking up the tiger. This often explains extreme behaviors that seem out of the blue with no warning. Understanding the role shame plays in dysregulation is important when taming tigers .
Can you share how shame impacts your or someone you love’s emotion regulation?
Heart And Mind Therapy offers many services including play therapy , you can learn more on their website here.