We have to differentiate between toxic shame and healthy shame that everyone experiences throughout their lives, healthy shame helps people stay within certain boundaries. It is helpful as opposed to toxic shame, it prevents you from doing shameful things.
Healthy shame is knowing your limits. The feeling that lets you know that you are limited. Without healthy shame one is not in touch with the one’s boundaries. It lets you know that you can make mistakes, that mistakes are the opportunity for learning.
Toxic shame is a permanent thing, it is part of your identity and makes you feel unworthy and inadequate. It can cause one to feel normal feelings as embarrassing feelings. It’s not the shame about what you did, it is shame about who you are as a person.
Toxic shame can cause the avoidance of social situations due to the fear of something happening that will cause embarrassment. It wants you to hide what you believe about yourself as a person, that is that you are flawed, not good enough, you don’t accept yourself as you are.
It can affect every area of your life, it can cause you to become isolated and can rob you of being connected and having friends. It can lead to depression, developing physical problems and addiction.
Toxic shame causes you to create mood alteration, the feeling inside is so painful that you have to alter your mood. Shame is the root cause of all addiction. For healing from the toxic shame, you have to come out from hiding. Anybody in treatment for any addiction has to deal with their shame if they are to recover. The only way to heal the pain is to embrace the pain.
Not everyone who suffers from social anxiety has toxic shame. It can happen that someone has a very embarrassing experience in some social situation and can associate being there with fear of recurrence of the embarrassment, that person may have no trouble in other social situations. Fear of the embarrassment of giving wrong answers in a classroom is an example of that.
There are certain characteristics that demonstrate that someone has toxic shame.
They have a tendency to hide. They want to avoid meeting people and when they meet others do they want to avoid the spotlight. They would be the ones in easy to a gathering and sit in the back seat.They don’t want to reveal their thoughts and feelings, by revealing themselves they fear that they will be rejected.
Memories of shame.
When they are in a situation where they could meet someone, maybe walking down a stress, that recall such memories to drive them to avoid the encounter and the possible of feeling the shame in a real life situation again.
People with toxic shame can become preoccupied with the little physical flaws they see in themselves. They can take steps to address the flaws to cover them up. Such people often would undergo plastic surgery for flaws that others would view as normal characteristics in anyone not blessed with the perfect body.