A Guide to Shame Spirals, and What You Can Do

Women drinking wine looking sad

Shame. Imagine you’re on the internet. You’re engaging with a community, sharing your opinions, and participating in discussions, but then you see it:

“You’re dumb.” “Wow, that is such an asinine statement.” “You clearly haven’t thought about this as much as I have.”

Even though these comments are from complete strangers, they can still cut you to the bone, constantly circling in your mind. When words become your worst enemy when you hate yourself and nothing feels like it can change that. That’s a shame spiral.

What is a shame spiral?

A shame spiral is characterized by negative thoughts and feelings of worthlessness spiraling out of control. They’re often triggered by one event or experience, but sometimes they can be the result of years of abuse or neglect. Some common triggers include:

  • illness or injury
  • a breakup or divorce
  • comments on social media
  • job loss
  • poor academic performance
  • offhand criticism from a friend or family member

When people are in a shame spiral, they may feel like they can’t do anything right. They may feel like they’re worthless, and that no one wants them around. This can lead to depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.

Some people may try to isolate themselves from friends and family, while others may turn to drugs or alcohol for comfort. Some people may lash out at others, either verbally or physically. Ultimately, these coping mechanisms only serve to make the spiral worse.

What can you do?

If you are experiencing a shame spiral, there are things you can do to break the cycle and reclaim your self-worth.

First, identify the source

Try to identify the thoughts and feelings that contribute to your shame spiral. Once you have identified them, challenge those thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.

Secondly, practice self-compassion

Be kind and forgiving to yourself, even when you make mistakes.  Remind yourself that everyone has insecurities, and it is how we choose to address them that defines our character.

Finally, reach out

If you are unable to stop your shame spiral on your own, seek professional help. 

There are many kinds of help available, from traditional talk therapy to support groups. It is important to find a facility or program that works for you and your needs.

The Bottom Line

Shame spirals are not easy to understand or manage, but with time and effort, you can find relief from them. You deserve nothing less than happiness and peace of mind.

Shame spirals are common, especially for people who have experienced abuse or neglect. They can be triggered by a single event or experience, or they can be the result of years of negative self-talk.

If you are unable to stop your shame spiral on your own, seek professional help from experts like those at Solace Emotional Health. Our team of professionals can help you break the cycle and reclaim your self-worth. We offer a variety of services, including traditional talk therapy and support groups, and we will work with you to find a program that meets your needs.

Contact us today to learn more.