Lots of us know what it’s like to feel guilty for feeling depressed or struggling with trauma reactions.
Many of us have gotten feedback from others that we “shouldn’t” be feeling or experiencing what we’re feeling or experiencing.
Weirdly, such feedback never seems to support us in NOT feeling or experiencing those things.
Rather, such feedback only makes us feel worse.
It adds a layer of shame in top of feelings or memories that were ALREADY a struggle.
Painful feelings ABOUT our painful feelings are a bitch.
Feeling depressed about how depressed we are. Anxious about how anxious we are. Angry about ALL of the emotional struggles we’ve had to endure. And guilty about…well, all of it.
It’s easy to tell ourselves that we don’t have a “good enough” reason to feel what we’re feeling.
We may tell ourselves that our past wasn’t SO bad as to create trauma reactions now.
We may tell ourselves that our life isn’t SO bad as to feel depressed about.
Thing is: whatever we experienced produced whatever we ARE experiencing— whether we think it “should” or not.
We have to deal with the reality of what we’re feeling and experiencing.
Sometimes we can let other peoples’ judgments pull our attention away from our emotional and behavioral struggles.
We convince ourselves we’re just being “dramatic,” and we don’t NEED to do any of that “recovery” stuff because we “shouldn’t” be feeling that stuff to begin with.
We might tell ourselves we need to “toughen up.”
I assure you: if you’re struggling with depression, trauma, addiction, or other emotional and behavioral struggles, it’s NOT a strategy to just ignore them because you don’t think you have a “good enough” reason to be experiencing them in the first place.
Ignoring our emotional and behavioral struggles is an excellent way to guarantee they’ll wind up running or ruining our lives.
You don’t need to feel guilty for being depressed.
You don’t need to feel guilty for experiencing trauma reactions.
You don’t need to feel guilty for struggling with addictive impulses.
We didn’t ask for any of these. We don’t want any of these. We didn’t “choose” any of these.
A big part of recovery is learning and relearning, again and again, that no matter what anybody thinks about what we’re going through, we still need to get through it.
Whether anyone thinks our depression or trauma is “legitimate” or not— we still have to cope with what’s happening in our nervous system and our body.
Whether anyone thinks we’re “choosing” our addiction— we still have to manage those impulses, cravings, and habits.
Whether anyone thinks we “should” have an easier time changing how we think, feel, and behave, we STILL have to handle the reality that it’s EXACTLY as hard to be us as it is.
I wish it wasn’t so easy to feel shame about what we’re feeling and experiencing.
I wish other people wouldn’t contribute to that layer of shame.
We CAN get into the habit of meeting our feelings and experiences with compassion and acceptance— but for most of us, it’ll take some practice.
Many of us don’t have a lot of experience with NOT judging ourselves harshly.
Many of us wouldn’t know what it would feel like to just feel what we feel without the layer of shame or judgment that has always been there.
For many of us, it starts with asking: what MIGHT that feel like?
If I REFUSED to have shame about what I’m feeling right now, what MIGHT that feel like?
If I REFUSED to judge myself harshly for WHATEVER I’m feeling, how would that change things?
You don’t have to have the answers now.
I just want to put those questions in your mind, for it to chew on.