I always knew my journaling helped me to work things out in my mind and made me feel better once I finished it. It helps me overcome embarrassment!
According to the article I read on Psychology Today, which I share below, compassionately writing to yourself helps reduce shame and embarrassment felt over any situation you are experiencing. It works for me!!
I went through terrible shame after the house fire, as I was a single parent at the time and I couldn’t look after myself, let alone my kids. I got over that so I knew I could get over being Bullied by Adults!
Writing posts for this website for the past couple of years has helped me overcome the embarrassment of having websites created in my name by Toxic Tenants, who were looking for revenge against me for my part in their eviction in 2017. Sharing my Story has freed me of the shame and embarrassment they tried to place on me with their words of degradation, unsolicited opinions, and personal speculations in the contents of their sites.
Writing out a situation, and expressing your thoughts and feelings over it does help release it.
Sometimes, writing out your fears can also show you just how unreasonable they are!
I found journalling when I was around 12 Yrs old. I was given one of those little pink books with a lock on it, and I took it everywhere with me, writing out my thoughts every single day. Once that was full, I started using regular exercise books I would get for schoolwork.
I wrote out everything…My thoughts back then for writing were that I never wanted to forget anything, or get anything misconstrued, and knew writing it out would ensure it would be remembered as it was, not how I or others wanted it to be. Writing out my thoughts also helped me make sense of them better…
By the time I left home at 18, I had a box full of those exercise books in my closet that I took with me. I come from a big family, with 4 siblings, and I was the second oldest of them. Maybe one day I will write about my childhood that I remember.
I do miss my earlier writings! I kept everything and by the time I had the house fire in 1991, it was moved to a light blue hard-covered suitcase. I lost all of my journals that covered those 12 years. I had so much in that suitcase, it was my keepsake place.
I still feel grief at times over everything I lost in that fire, the least of which was my mobility. So many memories are gone that I will never get back.
My brother came to visit me in the hospital not long after, telling me he went to the site of the house and noticed the suitcase had broken open and papers were flying around. He managed to save one photo album where most of the pictures were still intact. I still have those photos, some with burnt edges, but the book had to go. They were scanned to my computer years ago.
I had nightmares for months, thinking random strangers were picking up the pages of my journals that were blowing around, and reading them… I got over that in time, with the other nightmares I had from being in a house fire.
When I woke up in ICU after the fire, I was hooked up to a ventilator for another couple of weeks and couldn’t speak and my Mom got me a hard-covered little red book to write in. I couldn’t speak for months and once I did, my voice had changed. Smoke would do that to you!
I still have that book. I used it to write in while I was in the hospital and once I got out, I went back to using exercise books.
I still have all that writing, even kept all the cards I got from people during that time and have been adding to them since. I have a tote now filled with my keepsakes and exercise books.
It was a devastating experience for me and I have many journal entries filled with my feelings and struggles over the 5 years that followed. Regaining my physical and mental independence after such a catastrophic experience took time and my journals, with the weekly counselling sessions, helped me get thru that.
My writing almost daily continues to this day. I am supporting my own mental health with this act and the time it takes is worth it to me. It takes me longer these days to type, my left hand is terrible with cramps at times, but I get it out.
I will continue writing for as long as I can, as I know how beneficial it is to my mental health and also for my own memories.
My writings are here as a representation of my life as I refuse to allow anyone else to try and speak for me. It holds my thoughts and feelings over my life experiences, even the Bullying I have endured since 2016 from past Tenants who I found were showing toxic traits.
I will always write myself to a better ending, as I control the narratives of my own personal life! I will endeavour to show myself self-compassion in all things, as making mistakes is to be human. It is up to me to learn from my mistakes and move on from them and while I might get stuck from time to time, I will always find a way forward.
The antidote to shame, some research suggests, is self-compassion.
An Evidence-Based Way of Overcoming Shame
New research shows writing self-compassionate letters may reduce shame.
Posted May 23, 2023 | Reviewed by Vanessa Lancaster
- Shame is the painful experience of perceiving the self as inferior or flawed.
- Self-compassion entails being more understanding, kind, and supportive toward oneself.
- Writing self-compassionate letters reduces self-criticism and shame in individuals with high shame.
Shame is a very painful experience and may co-occur with other negative emotions (e.g., anger, self-disgust). It is associated with perceiving the core self as inferior or flawed and vulnerable to criticism and rejection. Not surprisingly, when feeling ashamed, people often have a strong urge to hide or run away.
Shame is associated with mental health problems. These include social anxiety, depression, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, somatic health complaints, addictions, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal ideation.
The antidote to shame, some research suggests, is self-compassion.
Self-compassion refers to the capacity to empathically comprehend the nature [and causes] of another’s pain. And the desire to ease and soothe that suffering.
Indeed, a recent study by M. B. Swee of Harvard Medical School and collaborators suggested that the regular practice of writing self-compassionate letters significantly reduces anxiety, self-criticism, and shame. This research, published in Mindfulness, is the subject of the present article.
Investigating shame and self-compassion
Sample: Sixty-eight college students (55 females) with high shame; the average age of 20; 59 percent Caucasian.
Methods: Participants were assigned to either a waitlist condition or a “self-compassionate letter-writing” condition.
Individuals in the treatment group first watched a short video about self-compassion. Subsequently, they listened to guidance on written and imaginal exercises for cultivating compassion for others.
Researchers asked participants to set aside half an hour daily for the letter-writing exercise. Self-compassionate letter-writing began in the second session and continued for the rest of the study.
Measures: The measures (plus sample items) are listed below. The participants were instructed to complete baseline and post-assessment measures (16 days and one month later).
- Experience of Shame Scale (ESS): “Have you felt ashamed of your body or any part of it?”
- The Other as Shamer Scale-2 (OAS-2): “I feel insecure about others’ opinions of me.”
- Forms of Self-Criticizing/Attacking and Self-Reassuring Scale (FSCRS): “I am easily disappointed with myself.”
- Self-Compassion Scale-Short Form (SCS-SF): “When I’m going through a very hard time, I give myself the caring and tenderness I need.”
- Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9): “Thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself.”
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item Scale (GAD-7): “Not being able to stop or control worrying.”
The current study examined the effects of a self-compassionate letter-writing task in reducing shame in students with high shame.
Results showed “practicing self-compassionate letter writing was associated with significant decreases in both global and external shame [medium to large effect sizes].”
It was, furthermore, “associated with significantly greater reductions in self-criticism [medium effect sizes].” Remarkably, these “gains were maintained during the one-month follow-up period, suggesting improvements in shame and self-criticism were sustained.”
Writing a self-compassionate letter
Guidance on how to do the above exercise begins with bringing to mind a shaming episode and taking a few minutes to write about it (e.g., what happened, how you felt, what you did at the time, and afterward).
Then use these three writing prompts to reflect on and reframe the shaming experience.
- Common humanity. Describe the various ways that other people may also experience similar shame-inducing episodes. This can include situations where they may feel, for example, bad, incompetent, defective, unlovable, or immoral.
- Self-kindness. What would you say to (or do for) a best friend or loved one who had experienced similar shame-inducing events? Now extend the same understanding, care, kindness, acceptance, and unconditional love to yourself.
- Mindfulness. Recall the shame-inducing event from a more detached and objective perspective. Do not exaggerate the feelings or over-identify with them. Observe them as if they were leaves on a stream. Describe the situation, thoughts, and emotions experienced from this point of view.
Practice this exercise regularly. Think of self-compassion as a healing response to shame. The more shame you felt then (or now feel), the more self-compassion you may need.
Self-compassionate letter writing may be one way of developing a supportive than critical and shaming self-dialogue.https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/finding-a-new-home/202305/an-evidence-based-way-of-overcoming-shame