-Mayah Taylor, MA
The feeling of shame is a common emotion experienced among members of the LGBTQ community. It’s the most common emotion struggled with next to guilt. Shame is feeling bad about who you are. The toxic emotion of shame prevents those who experience the emotion from feeling pride about who they are. For some, it can be a long journey and process to reach a place of pride in one’s own sexuality and gender identity. At our practice, we see many individuals from the LGBTQ community share their countless stories of being made to feel ashamed of the ways they are different to the majority of society. Shame can make individuals feel invisible or like they need to hide who they are because society has deemed them unacceptable. Hiding who you are coupled with the shame you feel reduces the ability to connect with yourself and with others. If you’re hiding large parts of your heart and who you are, it’s impossible to let people in and make deep, meaningful connections with others. If you carry shame about who you are, you become unable to allow anyone to properly love you or for you to be able to receive love from others. This may be because you don’t feel worthy or that you feel that you don’t deserve to receive love or for someone to love you because of who you are. I have found that many spend precious energy hiding themselves away when that energy could be spent living a meaningful life. We all have inner scripts about ourselves like, “Sometimes I feel I will not fit in,” or, “This person (insert name here) will not accept me, so why even bother.” These thoughts are unhelpful. In this blog we’d like to help you reassess your negative thoughts and share ways that you can turn shame into pride.
To begin dealing with the toxicity of shame and everything it brings with it, you first have to acknowledge that you feel shame. Begin by identifying and looking back at all the injustices you have experienced as well as those who rejected you. Remember those experiences that led you to feel shame. From remembering the painful emotions that produced shame, you can then turn them into love and empathy which in turn can change into pride and honor of who you are. It is important to know yourself as well as your struggles and work through your shameful parts. Only then will you be able to celebrate LGBTQ.
There are many LGBTQ organizations around the world. No matter where you live there is a community near you, you just need to find it. Once you find it, embrace your community. Work to surround yourself with people that love you unconditionally. Find safe spaces where you can express yourself and be you. When you find your community work to further build the relationships within it. You may find that you ultimately will build a sense of family within that community. Whatever you do, do not isolate yourself.
Being LGBTQ comes with a variety of emotions including shame. Shame can be very toxic and can prevent you from living your best life, connecting with others, and finding your freedom and pride. It is important that you deal with those feelings of shame and where they originated from and show yourself love, compassion, and empathy. Further it is very helpful to find others that have similar struggles as you and that are also part of the LGBTQ community. Don’t go it alone because you are not alone. If you need more support and help addressing the shame and finding your pride, there are many LGBTQ affirmative therapists that can help to support you and help you in your journey. And of course please reach out to Life Cycles Counseling for more support and resources.
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