Let’s talk about something that’s often lurking in the shadows, silently sabotaging our happiness: chronic guilt and shame. These heavy emotions can weigh us down, holding us back from living our best lives. But the good news? You don’t have to stay stuck in this cycle forever. Let’s dive into what chronic guilt and shame look like, what causes these emotions, and how we can heal using the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model.

Signs of Chronic Guilt and Shame

First, how do you know if you’re dealing with chronic guilt and shame? Here are some common signs:

  • Constant Self-Criticism: You’re your own worst critic, always finding fault in your actions.
  • Perfectionism: Nothing ever feels good enough, and you feel guilty when things aren’t perfect.
  • Avoidance: You avoid situations or people that trigger feelings of guilt and shame.
  • Low Self-Esteem: You struggle to see your worth and perhaps unconsciously feel undeserving of love or success.
  • Over-Apologizing: You find yourself saying “sorry” all the time, even when it’s not necessary.

Causes of Chronic Guilt and Shame

These feelings don’t just appear out of nowhere. They often have deep roots, such as:

  • Childhood Experiences: Growing up in a critical or neglectful environment can plant seeds of guilt and shame.
  • Trauma: Past traumas can leave lasting imprints on our self-worth.
  • Cultural and Societal Pressure: Societal expectations and cultural norms can make us feel like we’re constantly falling short.
  • Mistakes and Failures: We all make mistakes, but sometimes, we hold onto them, letting them define us.

Examples of Chronic Guilt and Shame

To paint a clearer picture, let’s look at a few examples:

  • The Superhero: feels guilty for taking any time for themselves, believing they must always be productive. Ultimately causing burnt out and resentful.
  • The Apologiser apologises excessively, even for things beyond their control. This stems from a deep-seated belief that they’re inherently flawed.
  • The Perfectionist strives for perfection in everything they do. Any mistake leads to intense shame, making them anxious and unhappy.

Healing with the Internal Family Systems (IFS) Model

Now, here’s the exciting part – healing is possible, and IFS is a powerful tool to help us on this journey. The IFS model sees our mind as made up of different “parts,” each with its own perspective and feelings. Here’s how it can help:

  1. Identify Your Parts: The first step is to recognise the different parts of yourself. For example, you might have a “critic” part that’s always pointing out your flaws, and a “vulnerable” part that feels deep shame.
  2. Build Relationships: Once you’ve identified these parts, start building a relationship with them. Understand that each part has a role and a reason for existing.
  3. Self-Compassion: Welcome each of our parts with compassion and curiosity, not judgment. This can be transformative – instead of fighting your feelings, you’re learning from them, and they often lots to share with you.
  4. Healing Wounds: Many of these parts are carrying old wounds. By acknowledging and addressing these wounds, you can begin to heal. This might involve revisiting past experiences and offering your younger self the support they needed at the time.
  5. Integration: Over time, as you heal, your parts will start to work together more harmoniously. You’ll feel more integrated and whole, with less internal conflict.

If this resonates with you and you’re ready to break free from the chains of chronic guilt and shame, I’m here to help. Working together, we can navigate your inner world, heal old wounds, so you can unlock your true potential. Don’t let these feelings hold you back any longer.

Ready to start your journey to healing? Contact me today and let’s take the first step together. Your brighter, freer future awaits!

With love and compassion,

Leah