Shame is a feeling that almost everyone knows. In this article, we'll explain what shame is and how shame can play into your addiction.
Shame is a social emotion. The desire to belong to a group, while failing to do so, can trigger shame. Humans are group animals. The moment you deviate from the values and norms of your group you feel shame. That feeling of shame is a signal that warns you that you can be thrown out of your group.
Behind shame there is often a desire. For example, to become better at something, or to mean more to someone else. In the end, everyone wants to belong to a group.
The consequences of shame are serious. For example, it makes you feel more stressed, more tired and you sleep badly. Shame can also cause you to avoid other people, which can make you feel lonely. Many people then feel ashamed of their loneliness (read more about loneliness in this blog post) and end up in a vicious circle of shame.
Shame is a trigger when you are addicted. The shame you feel can trigger a relapse. Gambling can in fact be a way of avoiding the negative feelings caused by shame. Often, that gambling behavior in turn creates a vicious cycle of shame as you feel ashamed of the gambling addiction.
Other consequences of shame are:
- Shame causes you to feel like you don't have the right to a good life, This can cause you to see your recovery as less rosy as well.
- With shame, you experience a higher threshold to seek help and therefore reach out for help less often.
- When you feel ashamed a relapse is more frequent and more intense.
- The important characteristics of addiction, such as denial, minimization and rationalization, are reinforced by shame.
- Shame can keep you from connecting with others and being honest. This causes you to receive and experience less support, while that support from a strong social network is the very thing that is so important in your rehab period.
- Shame can lower your self-confidence. Perhaps this is why you trust less that you can say no to gambling.
- Shame also makes your life without gambling more difficult. If people are not allowed to know that you have gambled or how much debt you have, the chances of relapse become greater.
- You may enjoy the successes you have had less because of shame.