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Young women with low self-esteem experiencing shameflammation

Unshackle Yourself from Shameflammation: How to Identify and Conquer Your Inner Demons


At some stage, we all feel shame, yet when it becomes a persistent presence in our lives, what then? That’s where shameflammation comes into play. 

The notion of shameflammation is well-supported as emotional manifestations, akin to physical inflammation caused by injury, can result in discomfort, irritation, and even pain. Such emotional responses can make it harder to navigate daily life and leave us feeling exhausted or drained. Furthermore, extensive scientific research has established a connection between negative emotions and the type of internal inflammation that is chronic, systemic, and invisible. This inflammation is linked to serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, and diabetes.

Shameflammation is the act of allowing your negative thoughts and feelings about yourself to build up until they reach an unbearable level.

In this article based on an episode I did from the Passion Struck podcast, I explain shameflammation, signs you might need to look out for if you’re experiencing it, how to tame shameflammation, and the benefits of tackling shameflammation head-on.

What is Shameflammation?

Shameflammation is a term coined by Dr. Will Cole to describe the physical and emotional symptoms of chronic shame, which can manifest in physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, digestive issues, and more. 

Shameflammation has become increasingly common in our society due to the ever-growing pressures of modern life – from work demands to social media comparisons – leading many people to feel overwhelmed and ashamed for not living up to their own expectations or those imposed upon them by others.

The physical and emotional effects of shameflammation can be severe, manifesting as migraines, IBS, acne flare-ups, insomnia, or lethargy even after a restful sleep. To put it another way, shameflammation is a war within oneself over self-worth that manifests itself through a myriad of physical and emotional means. 

Studies have extensively examined the connection between emotions and inflammation, with numerous investigations demonstrating that emotional strain can result in heightened amounts of certain indicators for inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP). Shame, specifically, is known to cause significant increases in CRP levels due to its strong negative impact on mental health.

How shame causes inflammation is not entirely understood yet. Still, research suggests it could be related to how shame affects our gut microbiome and other physiological responses, such as increased heart rate or cortisol levels when feeling ashamed. These physiological changes then trigger an inflammatory response, leading to physical symptoms associated with shameflammation such as headaches, fatigue, digestive issues, joint pain, skin problems, etc.

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Shameflammation can result in deep distress and a sense of worthlessness, draining one’s enthusiasm for life. By understanding the root causes behind shameflammation, we can begin to take steps towards healing and reclaiming our power.

Causes of Shameflammation

Childhood Trauma

Painful childhood experiences are one of the primary causes of shameflammation. Childhood traumas can result from various adverse experiences, such as physical or sexual maltreatment, parental neglect or desertion, school bullying, and other forms of mistreatment during early growth. This type of trauma can leave lasting psychological scars that manifest themselves later in life through feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, leading to shameflammation when triggered by certain events or experiences.

Whatever the cause may be, these childhood events often leave us feeling inadequate and unworthy, leading to a deep-seated sense of shame that stays with us into adulthood.

Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk is another significant contributing factor to shameflammation, as it has the potential to drag us down an emotional rabbit hole and fixate on our perceived shortcomings rather than celebrating our successes. This false narrative of inadequacy can lead us into a state of feeling ashamed for not being perfect, even though perfection is unattainable, as I have spoken about in the past. 

To combat this damaging thought process, we should take time out for ourselves; practice positive affirmations; engage in activities that bring joy; seek out supportive people who build us up instead of tearing us down; and reach out for professional help if needed. All these measures will help reduce negative self-talk’s impact on our mental health, thereby reducing the chances of experiencing shameflammation when triggered by external stimuli.

Societal Pressures

Societal pressures are also responsible for causing many cases of shameflammation due to their tendency to create unrealistic expectations regarding what “perfection” looks like. Expectations of perfectionism, often resulting in the sense of failure for anything less than perfect, pervade our world. This pressure often leads to self-inflicted mental anguish as individuals strive for unrealistic standards of perfection. The result? Shameflammation due to unrealistic expectations placed upon oneself by society’s standards leads to feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem, further triggering more episodes of shaming behavior when exposed to specific triggers outside their realm of control.

Shameflammation is a complex issue that can be caused by various factors, including childhood experiences, societal pressures, and negative self-talk. It’s essential to understand the health consequences of chronic shame to address it adequately.

Health Consequences Of Chronic Shame

Shame is an emotion that can have a lasting effect on our mental and physical health. Chronic exposure to shaming can lead to long-term physical and mental health impacts. 

When chronic shame is experienced, it can lead to a diminished sense of self-worth which may result in us engaging in relationships founded on these negative emotions rather than ones built upon mutual respect and affection. These relationships, driven by humiliation, are usually marked by an uneven power dynamic, mistrust, and dissatisfaction. When someone feels ashamed, the powerful message is that they don’t deserve better; these types of relationships tend to perpetuate the cycle of shame until something changes within either partner or the relationship itself.

Mental stress caused by prolonged shaming episodes can also have serious implications for our overall health if left unaddressed properly. Feelings like guilt, embarrassment, or worthlessness take up valuable energy from our bodies which could otherwise be used towards healing ourselves physically or emotionally in other areas where we may need it most. Furthermore, when we feel overwhelmed due to emotions like shame, we become less likely to make healthy decisions concerning nutrition or exercise – further contributing to poor physical health outcomes if not addressed soon enough.

Finally, gut feelings play an essential role in how we perceive situations involving potential shaming scenarios – whether real-life interactions with others around us or even just thoughts occurring inside our minds. Our gut instinct often tells us whether something is “right” for us personally before any conscious thought does; however, many times, people who suffer from chronic feelings associated with shame ignore their intuition because they fear judgment from others about their choices instead.

Learning how to listen closely and trust your own inner voice again takes time, but it is essential for anyone wanting true healing from past traumas that may have caused shameful episodes in the first place.

The lasting effects of prolonged shame can greatly damage one’s psychological and physical well-being. Thus it is vital to approach the issue with kindness towards oneself. To help do this, we will explore how to confront your inner critic compassionately.

Key Takeaway: Feeling shame can be a tremendous burden, leading to feelings of inadequacy, broken connections with others, heightened stress, and detrimental behaviors. To overcome this “shameflammation,” it’s essential to listen closely to your gut feelings and trust yourself again.

Heal Your Inner Critic With Self Compassion

We all have an inner critic that can be loud and relentless. It’s the voice in our head that tells us we’re not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough. This shame-fueled relationship with ourselves can lead to mental stress, overwhelm, and even physical symptoms like inflammation.

Fortunately, there is a powerful message of self-compassion that Dr. Will Cole has been sharing through his research: regular acts of kindness towards oneself help reduce overall levels of inflammation within the body by reducing stress induced by feeling inadequate or failure due to past experiences where one may feel embarrassed about something they did wrong previously.

It starts with being aware of your gut feelings when you experience negative thoughts – do you really believe them? Question your negative thoughts; separate reality from emotion. Additionally, practice gratitude for yourself and acknowledge small successes as they come throughout the day – this will help shift your focus from fear/doubt into appreciation/gratitude, which can make all the difference in how you view yourself long-term.

Lastly, remember that mistakes are part of life, so don’t beat yourself up too much over them – instead, take time to reflect on what went wrong, then move forward, learning from it while still having compassion for yourself along the journey ahead.

By embracing self-compassion, you can start to replace your inner critic’s harsh words with loving ones. Now let’s explore how we can heal from past traumas that may have caused shameflammation.

Healing From Past Traumas That May Have Caused Shameflammation

For those who have experienced trauma in the past, it can be challenging to heal and move forward without carrying the baggage of shameflammation. 

Past traumas can cause shame in many ways. When someone experiences a traumatic event, it can leave them feeling powerless, helpless, and out of control. They may feel like they were unable to prevent the traumatic event from happening or that they were somehow responsible for it. This can lead to feelings of shame, self-blame, and guilt.

Traumatic events often challenge people’s identities and beliefs about themselves and the world. For example, someone who experiences abuse may struggle with feelings of worthlessness and shame because the abuse makes them feel like they are inherently flawed or damaged. Similarly, someone who survives a natural disaster or a violent crime may feel weak or inadequate for being unable to protect themselves.

Finally, trauma can cause shame because it is often associated with stigma and social rejection. For example, someone who has experienced sexual assault may feel ashamed to talk about it or seek help because they worry about being judged or blamed by others. This social stigma can reinforce the belief that the person is somehow responsible for what happened to them, leading to feelings of shame and isolation.

Past traumas can cause shame by challenging a person’s sense of identity and self-worth, reinforcing negative beliefs and self-blame, and exposing them to social stigma and rejection.

How Can You Tame Shameflammation?

To effectively tame this pattern of shameflammation, it’s crucial to identify the source of your shame. Trace the source of your sense of inadequacy or unease to a specific occurrence in your past or present. Once you have determined the origin of your shame, start being kind to yourself and show self-forgiveness. It’s also essential to engage in positive self-talk rather than allowing any internal dialogue filled with criticism or doubt take hold.

If needed, professional help should be sought for further support on dealing with your shameflammation. A therapist may be able to offer advice on how to tackle these trying feelings, so they don’t become too intense or result in hazardous conduct, such as reliance on drugs or depression. Additionally, healthy coping mechanisms like exercise and journaling can help manage stress levels while providing an outlet for dealing with difficult thoughts and feelings associated with shameflammation.

By understanding the sources of shameflammation and using self-awareness, you can take steps to reduce its impact on your life. The next step is to explore the benefits of taming this powerful emotion.

Key Takeaway: Shameflammation is a cycle of shame and inflammation that can be effectively tamed by identifying its source, practicing self-compassion and forgiveness, engaging in positive self-talk, and seeking professional help if needed. 

What Are The Benefits Of Taming Shameflammation?

Taming shameflammation can have a profoundly positive impact on your mental health, energy levels, sleep quality, relationships with others and overall sense of well-being.

Mental Health:

Shameflammation is an insidious form of self-criticism that can erode our confidence and undermine our ability to cope with life’s challenges. By taming this inner critic through mindfulness practices such as meditation or journaling we can gain more control over our thoughts and feelings. By cultivating a greater understanding of our own mental processes, we can better equip ourselves to manage challenging situations and foster emotional stability effectively.

Energy Levels:

When we are constantly being bombarded by negative self-talk it takes its toll on our physical energy levels. Taming shameflammation helps us break free from these draining thought patterns so that we can access more vitality throughout the day. It also allows us to tap into deeper reserves of motivation, making it easier to stay focused on tasks at hand while achieving goals faster than before.

Sleep Quality:

Shameful thoughts often keep us up at night, ruminating about past mistakes or worrying about future events beyond our control. Taking steps to reduce the power of shameflmmation not only helps you fall asleep faster but also improves the quality of restful sleep for longer periods each night leading to greater productivity during waking hours as well as improved moods throughout the day .

Relationships With Others:

Our relationships with other people depend largely upon how comfortable we feel around them – something which is directly impacted by how much-internalized shaming we experience from ourselves or from external sources like family members, friends, or peers. By taking time out for mindful activities such as yoga or walking in nature, you will be able to cultivate a healthier relationship between yourself and those around you based upon mutual respect rather than fear-based judgments.

Last but not least, taming shameflammation gives rise to an enhanced sense of well-being due to reduced stress levels resulting from being less mentally and emotionally hard on oneself. As a result, your outlook towards life becomes brighter allowing you to take advantage of opportunities presented without feeling held back by negative self-talk. 

Key Takeaway: Learning to love oneself unconditionally is key in taming this debilitating emotion once and for all – enabling individuals who have experienced intense feelings of worthlessness due to past experiences to learn how not only accept themselves but also flourish despite them.

Reclaim Your Power

Shameflammation is a debilitating condition that can leave us feeling stuck, ashamed, and overwhelmed. By understanding what causes it and how to tame it, you can reclaim your power and start living with more purpose and passion. With this guide to shameflammation, you’ll be able to identify your triggers for this negative emotion so you can take actionable steps towards self-improvement, personal mastery, and ultimately self-love.

And finally, to manage shameflammation, it is necessary to reestablish a harmonious connection between your gut and emotions. This can be achieved by consuming gut-friendly foods and adopting practices that promote mental well-being, such as self-compassion.

Where to Go From Here

I hope you found this short guide on how to unleash your creativity useful.

This article is based on an episode of Passion Struck with John R. Miles, one of the 50 most inspirational podcasts of 2022.


Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotify, Podcast AddictPocket CastsStitcherCastboxGoogle PodcastsAmazon Music, or your favorite podcast platform.



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