The healing of toxic shame is a process consisting of many small steps. Because shame can develop in many different areas the healing process is equally complex and multi layered.
Some of these steps we can only take when accompanied by a supportive person like an experienced therapist. The reason for this is that shame is deeply linked to feelings of overwhelm, disempowerment and abandonment. To face these feelings alone can be very difficult if not impossible.
A safe, protected space is therefore the ultimate prerequisite to allow for someone to even feel shame reemerge. This can, but not needs to happen in therapy. It may also be possible within the safe context of stable, loving and constructive partnership.
On the other hand, there are steps we can take alone. In each case it is helpful to at least know theoretically what to expect from this process. This way it becomes easier to search for professional support if needed.
Crucial steps for healing toxic shame are
- (re)creating and maintaining safety and security
- (re)developing a sense of trust
- understanding the processes of toxic shame
- identifying and acknowledging feelings of shame (both within oneself and to others)
- name shaming for what it is and disclose violations of boundaries
- spotting toxic relationships and situations and possibly end them
- developing a healthy shame tolerance
- setting healthy boundaries
- (re)establishing connections (possibly with different/new people or groups)