Break Free: How to Shed the Shame and Guilt of Your Traumatic Past

Have been through one or even multiple traumatic events in your life? It can be hard to shed the shame and guilt of trauma. Thoughts such as, “Why didn’t I stop it?” or “Why didn’t I protect myself?” can last for years. However, it is possible to break free and put your trauma in the past by using proven therapeutic techniques for trauma therapy.

Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Treat the Shame and Guilt

The first technique that we can use to address the shame and guilt associated with trauma is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This kind of psychotherapy involves working with a therapist or counselor in order to discuss what you are feeling. During this process, we can discover ingrained thinking patterns and work to find new perspectives. This, in turn, can help us use practical techniques so that you can better manage your feelings.

Practicing Mindfulness Mediation to Treat Trauma

Many of these skills fall into the category of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation can help by:

  • Allowing you to practice breathing exercises that allow you to feel calm when your negative feelings are triggered.
  • Creating a space to recognize feelings such as shame and guilt as they occur.
  • Helping you to let go of the emotions that are dragging you down and not dwell on them.

The most common way to experience this is through a meditation practice. This can be practiced with your therapist in session to get the ball rolling. You can then continue in your own home. Any feelings that come up can be discussed using cognitive behavioral therapy in our sessions together.

Finding Better Coping Methods to Treat Trauma

Guilt and shame are powerful emotions. When they take root in the consciousness, the solution for many people is to numb those feelings. Tragically, they often find themselves in the clutches of drug and alcohol abuse. However, the feelings never go away, returning once the drugs or alcohol wears off. By attending therapy we can work together to find more effective coping methods.  They include:

  • Using creativity like making art, playing music, or journaling.
  • Eating the right foods and exercising.
  • Getting out of the house and spending time with others: friends, clubs, and social organizations.
  • Finding connection with others who have also been through trauma.

Utilizing Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing to Treat Trauma

Another way we can address the shame and guilt of trauma is through the process of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This technique has been proven to be very effective for treating trauma. During these sessions:

  • We focus on troubling memories related to your trauma, such as an event from your childhood.
  • Discuss any imagery connected to that memory.
  • Talk about any negative thinking you may have about yourself.
  • Connect the feelings you’re having with your body.
  • Talk about positive feelings that you have about yourself.

During these sessions, we use stimulation such as tapping or eye movements to help create focus. The goal of EMDR is to continue this process with all of your troubling memories until those memories are no longer distressing.

Whether it’s a lingering traumatic memory or a recent event, the shame and guilt associated with your trauma can seem to take over your life. Instead of being able to stay present, focused, and enjoying your life, you are instead mentally trapped in the past. People who experience unresolved trauma continually experience it often, sometimes even daily. The shame and guilt can be isolating and make you feel that you are alone. Instead, trauma therapy can empower you to take control of your personal story, and your life, once again.