Shame and Addiction – Can Somatic Therapy Help?

Image with text: Shame and Addiction.

Shame + Addiction

I spend a loooooot of time talking about addiction and healing… now. But, that definitely wasn’t always the case. For so long I lived with my pain in total silence and isolation. 

It’s weird, right? Like this secret that you simultaneously feel everyone knows, but also no one will ever talk about– especially you. You keep the secret. You learn to live and keep this one (pretty all-consuming) part of your life completely to yourself.

You wrap yourself in secrecy. And that leads to shame.

Or maybe the shame we feel is what leads us to keep it a secret?

It’s a real chicken and egg situation; I’m not sure which one comes first, but I am 100000% certain that the secrecy and shame that surround addiction go hand in hand.

Impact on Your Nervous System

Of course, none of this occurs in isolation. Those feelings of shame and the impulse to live in secrecy have far reaching effects on your nervous system.

Living with constant shame and secrecy has scientifically proven impacts:

  • The nervous system is in a constant state of fight-or-flight
  • Elevated levels of cortisol flow through your system
    • Over prolonged time this can even lead to neurological changes that make it difficult to regulate emotions or make decisions
  • The chronic stress can lead to depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal issues, and a litany of other physical ailments 
  • You feel isolated and further cut off from support systems

And that’s not an exhaustive list.

Reading through these impacts can be overwhelming.

Seeing yourself in these words isn’t necessarily a comfortable thing, but the beauty is that you are seeing yourself in these words because others (Hello! 👋) have been through this and can name the feelings. 

You are not alone. You can (and frankly, already are– just by reading this and exploring the topic) take steps towards healing.

Living like this, doesn’t have to be your reality. It doesn’t have to be your future. There are steps you can take to shed the shame clouding living around addiction.

Small Steps to Start Shedding the Shame

One of the biggest keys to releasing shame of living around addiction is to normalize conversations around addiction. Treating addiction like this taboo topic or dirty secret only forces us deeper into our own dark isolation.

Start sharing your story in a safe environment

For each of us, a safe space looks different.

Some options could be:

  • Al-Anon
  • Solo therapy
  • Group support sessions
  • Walking in the park and opening up to a trusted and loving friend

This is a gradual process. Let go of any pressure or expectations you may put on these conversations to fix everything. Healing takes time and that’s okay.

Somatic Coping Strategy for Shame

Another practice that you can implement today– like seriously right now– is adding in a somatic coping strategy. 

What can I say? Your girl loves to move AND it helps in healing your nervous system… Well, that’s an absolute win-win! Before you try this, remember when you begin to connect your emotions with sensations in your body, it can be activating. Go slow. Move compassionately with your body and nervous system. If it feels like too much at any time and you get flooded with emotions, please stop and find resources to help you process the more grooved traumas and activations. 

With all that being said, ready to hold space for your shame energy? Get ready….deep breath through your nose into the belly, fill it up completely. Exhale slowly out your mouth. Continuing with a slow inhale and exhale…..

  • Take your right hand and place it on your left shoulder.
  • Move your right palm slowly down your left arm.
  • Over your bicep, elbow, forearm, wrist, top of the hand and fingers. 
  • Then switch, take your left hand and repeat the same motion on the opposite side. 
  • Slowly, watching your hands move one at a time down the opposite arm. 
  • You are acknowledging the shame right now. Maybe say hello if that feels comfortable. 
  • You are not trying to get rid of the shame, just starting to build a relationship with it, to understand why it is here, and what it wants to help you move through. 
  • Imagine you are shifting, acknowledging the heaviness of  the ‘shame energy’ with each downward movement. 
  • Noticing its presence, I invite you to say internally, or out loud, “I am capable of healing.”

*Interested in the full run-down of somatic therapy? Check out this blog.

So many aspects of living around addiction can feel out of our control. But, you are in control of sharing your own story. Choose how and with whom, so you feel safe and supported.

You are in control of the healing practices you participate in. Try out different movements and somatic practices and trust what feels right for you.

Whichever small step you choose to take: know that by sharing your story you are aiding in your own healing AND normalizing these conversations which makes it easier for others to start their healing. You’re not alone.

Next Steps

If this is resonating with you and you’re ready to start stepping out of shame and secrecy, here are a few tools that can be helpful:

→ Join my Free Somatic Recovery Sessions where we explore movement, breathwork, meditation, and connection… the perfect first steps for exploring healing through somatic practices!

→ Check out A 40 Day Yoga Journey for Consistency!  If you are unsure of how to create your own supportive daily practice, this is a great place to start. This complete free offering takes you along for my daily practice for 40 days. Each video is about 15 to 20 minutes long and you can simply follow along and see how a practice like this feels for you! 

→ Reach out and we can chat about working together 1:1 through somatic coaching.

Sending love and light,

Heidi

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