Trauma and Shame: Working Through Guilt and Self-Blame

Benjamin Bonetti Therapy Online Coaching

Trauma can leave an individual feeling helpless, vulnerable, and overwhelmed. It can also lead to feelings of shame and self-blame. Shame is a powerful emotion that can significantly impact an individual's mental and emotional well-being.

When left unchecked, it can prevent individuals from seeking help and hinder the healing process. 

It is essential to recognise the impact of shame on trauma survivors and work to overcome it. In this article, we will explore the relationship between trauma and shame and provide strategies for working through feelings of guilt and self-blame.

Understanding Shame

Shame is an intense emotion that can be defined as a deep sense of inadequacy or self-disgust. It is a feeling of being flawed or defective, leading individuals to believe that they are unworthy of love and respect.

Shame can result from a variety of experiences, including childhood trauma, abusive relationships, and major life changes such as divorce or job loss. When shame is connected to trauma, it can cause an individual to feel responsible for the abuse or neglect they experienced, leading to feelings of guilt and self-blame.

The Impact of Shame on Trauma Recovery

Shame can be a significant barrier to healing from trauma. It can lead to feelings of isolation, fear, and hopelessness, making it difficult for individuals to seek help and engage in the healing process. Shame can also cause individuals to engage in self-destructive behaviours, such as substance abuse or self-harm, to numb the pain.

Overcoming Shame

Overcoming shame is a crucial step in the healing process. It involves recognising and challenging the negative beliefs that lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-blame. Here are some strategies for overcoming shame and promoting healing:

Seek Support

Trauma survivors often feel isolated and alone in their experiences. Seeking support from a therapist or support group can provide a safe and supportive environment for processing emotions and challenging negative beliefs.

Practice Self-Compassion

Self-compassion involves treating oneself with kindness and understanding, even when experiencing difficult emotions. It involves acknowledging the pain and suffering that one has experienced while recognising that these experiences do not define one's worth or value as a person. 

Challenge Negative Beliefs

Shame often stems from negative beliefs about oneself. Challenging these beliefs and replacing them with positive affirmations can help individuals break free from the cycle of self-blame and self-doubt.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and observing one's thoughts and feelings without judgment. It can help individuals recognise when feelings of shame arise and work to change their response to these emotions. 

Engage in Self-Care

Engaging in activities that promote self-care and well-being, such as exercise, meditation, or creative expression, can help individuals feel more positive and empowered. This can also help break the cycle of self-destructive behaviours that often accompany shame. 


Shame can be a significant obstacle to healing from trauma. It is essential to recognise the impact of shame on mental and emotional well-being and work to overcome it. Seeking support, practicing self-compassion, challenging negative beliefs, practicing mindfulness, and engaging in self-care can all be effective strategies for overcoming shame and promoting healing. Remember, healing is possible, and it starts with acknowledging and addressing the shame that may be hindering your progress.

Are you feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or stuck in life? Therapy can be an incredibly helpful tool for processing emotions, gaining clarity, and creating meaningful change. Working with a therapist can provide a safe and supportive space to explore your thoughts and feelings, while also developing coping skills and strategies to manage life's challenges. Don't let fear or stigma prevent you from seeking the support you deserve.

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