How can I deal with my acute feelings of shame?
July 22, 2009 2:45 PM   Subscribe

I feel intense, acute, brief episodes of shame every day, several times a day. What can I do about them?

The frequency varies, but the few times I attempted to count, I got an average of about 5-10 such episodes per day. These are unbidden, intrusive thoughts, and very, very intense: say, 8/10. I've been diagnosed with GAD and social anxiety disorder, and these episodes almost always center around real or imagined social and/or moral transgressions. Some of them are staggeringly minor, when compared to the amount of distress they cause me. They are minor social gaffes that I committed years ago, things that I'm positive no one but me remembers: For example, introducing two people who happened to already know each other. Thinking about my more severe regrets and mistakes also triggers this shame reaction, though. It only occurred to me in the past few years that this might be unusual - it's been happening to me for as long as I can remember.

I am in therapy, and I have brought this up to my doctor, who suggested briefly that such repetitive, intrusive thoughts may be symptomatic of OCD. We have not talked about it at length, mostly because I find the idea of recounting these episodes that cause my feelings of shame to be ... shameful. I have no behavioral compulsions (hand-washing, turning off the stove, etc), except for a habit of repeatedly checking to make sure I haven't lost anything, even when I just already checked, when I'm outside my house. It doesn't really interfere with my life, though: I still go out, and it doesn't cause me much distress.

What can I do about this? I've flirted with vipassana meditation, but I generally found it made my anxiety worse. My usual reaction to these episodes is to try to push them out of my mind, but I've seen some recent research on thought suppression that suggests that's actually quite counter-productive. I don't know how to overcome that strong "stop thinking about this now" reaction when confronted with such intense, negative feelings. Is there something else I can try? Have you experienced this?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
are you on medication?

We have not talked about it at length, mostly because I find the idea of recounting these episodes that cause my feelings of shame to be ... shameful.

would it be easier to write them down?
posted by desjardins at 2:48 PM on July 22, 2009

Sounds like you either need to fully hash out these thoughts with your therapist and give him/her a chance to dive further into the underlying reason(s) behind your shame, or you need to find a new therapist. This could be a result of how you were raised (Catholic, for example), it could be the result of a traumatic event that happened to you, or it could be something else entirely. I've heard behavior modication therapy works well for some people. Sounds like ultimately you just need to hash it out with your therapist (I mean, that's why you're there, right?) or find a new therapist who will get it out of you. Good luck.
posted by billysumday at 2:50 PM on July 22, 2009

Not every day, but I still get these waves of shame and regret for stuff that happened decades ago. I have just learned to sit back and watch these feelings and let them subside. They always do.

I do not think you are alone, and, perhaps, being worried about it makes it worse.
posted by Danf at 2:52 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I experience something similar to this as well. What has helped me tremendously is seeing a therapist trained in EMDR techniques. You can google this for more information. We use hand buzzers or tapping, but many other people use lights and/or sounds in conjunction or instead. I don't know much about the science behind this technique, (though I have seen that it is a recommended treatment for PTSD) but what i do know is that this method has allowed me to concentrate intensively and specifically on the moments that I have found troubling. It has also allowed me to make connections between these specific moments and larger patterns/issues. It may be worth looking into.
posted by theantikitty at 3:02 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's good you can name them and recognize them. All nonpsychopaths have a shame module that I think cycles on and off randomly with various frequencies and intensities. I would recommend attempting to chemically modulate your brain in order to tune your shame module. It is quite possible, for example, your brain cannot produce enough inhibitory neurotransmitters to attenuate the activity of your 'shame module' due to lack of precursors in your diet. Exercise and ensuring proper diet are a good start (for example google 'depression/anxiety and diet' and you will find various foods/vitamins/minerals implicated in unbalanced neurochemistry). Your brain is a big physico-chemical device and if it isn't doing what you want, jam it with chemicals until it does. They key of course is utilizing the proper chemicals and not just lobotomizing the whole thing.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 3:03 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

I get this to a degree sometimes too, though never for imagined situations. It's always something dumb I said or did at some point in the past. In any case, they are always social-related, and I have them less when I'm socially more confident - interacting with others more, my interactions become more natural and I feel happier about socialization in general. Those sorts of thoughts feed on feelings of inadequacy, I think.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 3:05 PM on July 22, 2009

Wow, just wow. This is me. Exactly. Even the possible diagnosis of OCD (but with no ritual behaviors etc...). This is my every day as well.

In fact I wrote an askme on this subject a while back. No useful replies there either, unfortunatly. And, alas, while I know exactly what you are talking about (because I live it too) I can't offer any help.

I stopped going to the therapist after a while because it was not helping at all and certainly wasn't cheap. The things he suggested didn't work anyway.
posted by Riemann at 3:10 PM on July 22, 2009

I have these too. I have generalized anxiety and in my opinion the disorder is on the spectrum with OCD-like behaviors. I just kind of let my shame spirals (heh) ride but pay attention to the frequency -- if I get them more often, then I need to make sure my mental state is okay. I'm the same way with my other compulsive-ish behaviors.
posted by sugarfish at 3:12 PM on July 22, 2009

Oh man. I have done this FOREVER. And I do have some behaviors in the Obsessive-Compulsive spectrum (not hand-washing, but occasional actions that can sometimes cross into minorly intrusive "rituals," double-and-triple-checking for things I need w/me (like tickets), dermatillomania), which leads me to believe your pysch might not be off-base.

You are right that shoving the thoughts off doesn't work very well. The older I get, the better I become at approaching it from an attitude of acceptance, rather than avoidance. Rather than simply trying to fight these feelings of shame & anxiety, or ignore them, I briefly review the memory and remind myself that EVERYONE has these gaffes, minor and major, and that I am no different or worse than every other human being on Earth. In fact, as the things that seem to trip me up most are almost always very minor missteps in the larger scheme of things, chances are that the only person who was troubled by my error or remembers the incident at all is me. I remind myself of conversations I've had with other people in which they've apologized for things that didn't even register with me, emphasizing that our perception of our own mistakes is often severely out of proportion to the actual "offense." I also try to get a grip on the idea that these things were often YEARS ago, and there is nothing I can do about it now, even if I did make a terrible mistake (which generally is not the case -- weirdly, it's the relatively minor transgressions that seem to make an appearance in these shame spirals. possibly because I've learned how to integrate the larger fuckups -- and my subsequent attempt to improve -- into my concept of my own evolving self).

It reminds me a lot of the spinning my brain does when I can't sleep -- lying in bed planning out conversations and emails and plans for the next day/week/month in my head. It doesn't actually help me to try to write an entire email in my brain before I sleep -- I won't remember it tomorrow, and I'm not exactly saving myself time and effort with this "pre-planning". It's just my brain tricking me into thinking that I'm accomplishing something, trying to assuage my anxiety by "taking care of it." All that's happening is that I am stealing the sleep I need right now in favor of a false promise of peace later.

Basically, I run through the process of:
1. it's done and over
2. it's not the big deal you think it is
3. (most importantly) you're not accomplishing anything by replaying this tape in your head. it's just a TV show you're watching over and over again, without any ability to act on it or change anything.

I just gently keep pushing on these concepts until I start to feel my brain letting go and moving on. Don't berate yourself for doing this; don't be angry at your brain for being so "stupid" as to go through this pointless ritual. Just try to be kind and accepting, while ultimately holding firm to the line that this isn't a path you endorse. I think that's the aspect of meditation people might be recommending to you: it's okay to have the distracting thoughts and bad feelings. It really is. Just acknowledge them, realize what's happening, and don't get lost in it.

I hope any of this helps -- good luck & feel free to MeMail if you like.
posted by tigerbelly at 3:19 PM on July 22, 2009 [25 favorites]

I get these pretty awful. Years ago I found sudden tic like motion or jerks distract myself enough that the thought gets lost. But that was a far from perfect solution, as it made me look unstable, and I prefer my madness more of a private affair. So since then, I've taken some quiet nights with a glass of wine to get to know all the little painful spurs. I open up a word document, and begin listing as many of the memories as I can. They are almost always ridiculous, but nonetheless, I shudder and grimace as they come to mind, and at times the reaction of bringing them up to the surface feels quite violent. But, they go into the list. Under each entry, I try to reason out why they bother me, and, then, as if by magic, as they stop seeming so ridiculous to be bothered by, they become less painful. After awhile of this, I run out of steam, and stop feeling so tortured soul, and end up surfing the internet aimlessly. But that last sentence isn't the important part! After a year or so of this, I've found that when I get brand new painful memories, they are neither as long lasting, or as painful. The practice has allowed me to quickly perceive(generate?) the reason why I'm so pained by the thought, and the painful memory loses much of its ferocity.

For myself, I have a habit of trying to completely control other's interpretations of myself and I am pained whenever I fail at the impossibility. Through my introspection, I've discovered the most common logic of my own painful memories is that they tend to all be particularly striking (to me) examples of the difference between the message sent, or the message I wish to send, and what was received, or to be more annoyingly specific, the message intended to be sent, and the messaged perceived/imagined to be received.
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:28 PM on July 22, 2009 [10 favorites]

I had something similar for a long time and still get twinges of it. Definitely talk to your doctor. In my case it was a combination of OCD-like obsessing plus shameful things that happened when I was a kid and forming opinions about myself and the world.

Cognitive behavioral therapy helped me a lot more than unstructured talk therapy, because it helped me identify and challenge the underlying beliefs that were causing the painful thoughts. My local county health services place had good CBT on a sliding fee scale and it was definitely worth the moderate cost.

Before CBT, I tried several talk therapists, but they wanted to dwell too much on what happened in the past rather than fixing my present. I also tried formal and informal group therapy for my particular brand of childhood misadventure, but it was extremely unhealthy for me, again because the participants seemed to dwell on past pain and ignore what they might do now to get better. (While it might seem like it would be helpful to hear other people describe their own illogical but intense feelings of shame, the groups I tried made me feel like I was a member of a permanent class of people doomed to feel shame for eternity.)

A brief period on Xanax helped me, especially because it let me feel what it was like to be free of obsessive, hurtful thoughts. That was extremely helpful. It also made clear that brain chemistry might be part of the problem, because the effect was like flipping a switch. To me, it was less shameful to think of myself as having slightly skewed brain chemicals than it was to think of myself as an illogical, oversensitive person who can't control her own thoughts.

Xanax left me feeling drugged in other ways so I went off it, and now if I need to turn off a stuck thought vigorous exercise does the trick. If it's too late for exercise, I drink cornsilk tea.

Finally, I was a vegetarian for more than 20 years. When I started eating meat again for various reasons, one surprising side effect was that my mood improved. I became more outgoing and less sensitive, and I had more emotional as well as physical stamina. My veg diet had been pretty healthy, and the only change I made was to introduce moderate amounts of chicken.

So: I highly recommend talking openly to your doctor. Don't be embarrassed--they've heard a lot about shame before. If they don't respond with a clearly defined action plan, you might look into CBT. You might also try medication, if only to experience "normal" for awhile and motivate yourself to make it your default state somehow. I also highly recommend regular, vigorous exercise, preferably to energetic music that helps you emotionally (for me, that's Bollywood music). Finally, you might look at the amount of protein you're eating or keep a food diary to see if you see a relation between food and mood.
posted by PatoPata at 3:35 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just to try to control my message's interpretation by adding yet more words: I do not disregard the pain as silly or wrong or frivolous. Instead, I just observe that I am trying to square the circle, and that it does suck that I cannot control my social image, that such limitation is a human condition, and a quality of reality. And as for the reason why I get more worked up over it than others seem to is because I am just more aware of that aspect of reality, and that is no worse or better than those who are especially aware of human frailty, ecological fragility, limitations of government, or epistemology.
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:45 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

I don't get this nearly as often as you seem to, but I do sometimes. What I have found can sometimes help is to distance myself from it a bit. I have "younger heatherann" in my head, as a slightly different person than Who I Am Now. I look back on things she did and thought and ... well, I feel rather fond of her. And I feel bad for her sometimes. And I cringe for her, but it's much less excruciating to cringe for her than for me.

I've been reading this book, The Zen Path Through Depression, and I know you said you tried meditation and it didn't help, but maybe this approach would be helpful:
Students of meditation sometimes have trouble with pain when they sit in the same position for long periods. The advice many teachers give them is to make the pain the object of their meditation.

In depression we may be overcome with pain. It screams for our attention. We grow so tired of feeling pain that we will find nearly any way we can to avoid it. Sometimes we become so tangled up in our pain that all of our energy goes to fighting it.

Often we aren't even aware that this is what's happening. And when we respond in this way, we don't even really experience the pain, because we are running so fast to get away from it. Sometimes we become so accustomed to trying to ignore it that we may continue running even when the pain is gone.

Yet we can make pain the object of our attention, rather than a monster to flee from. We can begin by going beyond merely seeing it as "pain". We can examine the qualities of the pain, notice how it really feels. We can notice if the sensation in our body is one of heat, or tension, or pins and needles. We can notice whether we have tightened up around the pain, or if our whole body is on edge as we try to escape from it.

Then we can look more broadly at the ways we respond mentally. We may try to think of something else. Or we may tense up in the area around the pain -- though this serves only to block it, hold it in, and magnify it.

... Though it is at first frightening to examine our pain, once we have done so we can begin to soften to it, and really feel our suffering. We may worry that the feeling is too intense, that we won't be able to stand it. But ultimately we find that the pain we feel in trying to avoid what is happening is at least as bad as the uncomplicated pain underneath it, if not worse. And we may find, to our surprise, that the pain underneath becomes more bearable.

... When we can soften to our pain, and fear it less, we may find that we can begin to let the world back in again.


Once you are sitting comfortably, focusing on your breath, bring your attention to any pain or discomfort you may feel. You may choose either physical or mental pain (the two usually don't exist apart from each other anyway).

As the pain begins to grow, remind yourself of your intention not to run from it but instead to explore it thoroughly. When you first become aware of it, identify it as simply "pain." Then move on to look closely at its qualities. Where in the body is it located? Does it remain constant, or does it increase and then decrease? Is it a sensation of cold or warmth; of tightness, or numbness, or pins and needles? Is it an ache or a burn?

What happens to your pain when you pay attention to it in this way? Does it lessen? Increase? Does it seem less like pain and more like discomfort?

Now look at the thoughts that arise along with the pain. Do you think the pain should not be happening? Are you feeling frightened or angry? Do you try to move a bit in order to lessen the pain? Does this help, or does the pain quickly return? Do you tighten in the area around the pain? Does your breathing become shallower or more rapid?

Try to relax into the pain. If you are tightening around it, or your breathing has changed, allow the muscles to relax and your breathing to slow. If possible, allow your thoughts to ease as well.

If you can remain with the pain, you may be able to see that, without your doing anything, it ebbs and flows, arising and disappearing like thoughts or other sensations. Does this surprise you when it happens? Have you ever noticed this with anything else?
Feeling ashamed, on its own, will not kill you. If you can learn to sit with it, rather than avoiding it or feeding it, perhaps you can learn how to let it flow away.
posted by heatherann at 4:06 PM on July 22, 2009 [9 favorites]

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is another possible diagnosis, speaking from all-too-personal experience.

Ask for a psych test, to see if you fit any of these profiles. It takes about 2-4 hours or so, and knowledge about yourself is the greatest tool you can own.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:18 PM on July 22, 2009

The OP has a GAD diagnosis, IAmBroom.

A lot of people experience this - here's a previous thread on the issue. I just shake it out and wack the side of my head a few times and say "no, no, no point in thinking about it now, it's been and done" and find something pretty to look at and that works for me. I would definitely consider CBT if it's becoming overwhelming.
posted by goo at 5:16 PM on July 22, 2009

Wow, there has been some excellent thoughtful answers and support in this thread.

I second CBT especially the seminal Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns. These feelings of shame while deeply felt, are not logical. We all make gaffes. No one is both truly human and perfect. It is not humanly possible or even desirable to be perfect.

The benefit of the Handbook is that by putting the shame feeling into simple honest words and writing them down, (eg: 'I feel ashamed that I am single and will never be loved again' was one of mine once) we can then use the tools in the book to identify which illogical thoughts (I must be perfect, no one will ever find me attractive etc) are the dynamic behind the shame feelings.

Further handbook tools show how to examine the truth or logic of those thoughts ('how do I know no one will ever find me attractive? I am not clairvoyant!'). Once the illogical foundations of the shame-driving thoughts are brought into the light it becomes empowering and quite easy, with practice, to change the thoughts and feelings we experience, to feel less shame and other debilitating or non-productive emotions.

I gave myself a brilliant gift last year - I spent two weeks holiday reading and working through the Handbook and discovered that yes it is true, doing the actual thought, feeling and writing exercises in the handbook rewires thought patterns much more efficiently and deeply than mere reading of the words can ever do. I've certainly curbed and maybe cured my dysthemia, it's been months since I felt sharp pangs of shame or attended a self-pity party, and I've gained a much better understanding of my feelings; which ones to trust, which ones to laugh at, which ones to take outside and give a good talkin' to.

One other piece of advice I heard that helped me a lot was this: As you lay your head upon the pillow to go to sleep, think of three positive non-shameful things that you did that day and congratulate yourself for each one. Do it every night and drum up three even if they are hard to find in your day. It's unbelievably nutritious for the self-esteem, improves sleep and helps with waking and daily moods.

I also want to plug David Burns' Intimate Connections as a great boost to those who have difficulty in finding relationships.
posted by Kerasia at 5:23 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

I was also going to link to the thread that goo linked too. Before I had discovered that thread, I would sometimes mention to people that sometimes when I remembered a past embarrassing experience, I'd blurt something out or mumble something or pinch myself in order to distract myself, I guess. Whoever I told this too was often shocked to learn that other people did it too. They thought they were the only one. What you're experiencing might be a normal kind of impulse that's exacerbated by the GAD. Still, it might be comforting to know that, in my experience, lots of people think they're the only ones who have weird recalled memories of anxiety and embarrassment.

(I was really surprised to learn from that thread that so many people would say "I love you", often to the name of an ex from long ago. I would never have guessed there was a regularity there. What's the reason? Looking for comfort?)
posted by painquale at 6:01 PM on July 22, 2009

What worked for me:

When those feelings rise up, usually from remembering some old minor mistake I made (like accidentally walking into a meeting I wasn't part of), I say to myself, "I forgive myself, and I accept the forgiveness of others." I repeat it several times. Amazingly, over time this has really reduced the frequency and intensity of intrusive old memories.

When I do something mildly embarrassing now, I am careful and conscious not to let myself re-play it in my mind. I interrupt the thought, remind myself it's nothing I need to remember, say my little forgiveness mantra, and shift mental gears. I think over the years I have gotten much better at not letting these incidents take hold in the first place.
posted by not that girl at 6:17 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

You may have some sort of compulsion, but if it's mostly about shame, then...

This book helped me a lot.

It's written about women, but there's a chapter about men's experiences with shame too.
Talks about having empathy and understanding your triggers.
posted by lucydriving at 6:21 PM on July 22, 2009

Your description of feeling shame for years ago introducing people who knew each other already hit me like a ton of bricks. I've got things like that. They pop up all the time. I suspect not nearly with the crippling intensity that you experience, but I know of what you are talking. I will pray that you get some help tonight before I go to bed. Peace friend.
posted by scunning at 8:14 PM on July 22, 2009

I do something like heatherann's "younger heatherann" approach except I change it to would I be as harsh if it was someone else or a friend telling me whatever they did that they felt guilty about. It helps me get some emotional distance and be more accepting of the fact that everyone does things they feel stupid or guilty about.

If my brain is just totally stuck in that groove and won't stop, I do something I read an article about that doctors were trying for soldiers with post traumatic stress. The soldier would try to remember the memory as intensely as possible with every little detail while a doctor or aid would move a finger back and forth in front of the soldier's eyes. The soldier would have to focus on both the moving finger and the memory which was suppose to make the connections between the memory details get a bit scrambled.

I just move my own finger back and forth and watch it while feeling slightly stupid but it does seem to be helpful. It's hard to focus on both and it gets my mind out of the guilt groove. Sometimes it takes a couple times when my mind tries to go back to feeling the guilt but it works for me. Hope this helps you.
posted by stray thoughts at 10:54 PM on July 22, 2009

Seconding the forgiving yourself mantra.
I used to get these constantly, to the point of physically doubling over. It made me afraid to go out and do anything where I didn't know the script by heart. What helped was the realization that the more I tried to suppress it the more it came back. Eventually I just broke down and realized that I just needed to forgive myself. After that the feelings faded, still get new ones every now and then, but I just forgive myself (and mean it), and it also fades. It gets easier with time, the first forgiveness hurt a lot, but feels great after.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 12:00 AM on July 23, 2009

Mod note: This is a followup from the asker.
I want to thank everyone for the responses thus far. I have always believed that this is a problem I was more-or-less alone in, and simply knowing that this afflicts other people has made me feel much better about the situation.

I should mention to all the people who suggested CBT that the kind of therapy I'm in, is, in fact, CBT, not unstructured talk therapy. But I need to address the problem with my therapist, for sure.

tigerbelly: That was a particularly helpful response, and I may take up your invitation to MeMail you at some later juncture - for now, I am still absorbing everything from this thread. I also double and triple check tickets and such, and and I also tend toward letting my mind plan fruitlessly instead of sleeping.

TwelveTwo: That sounds cathartic, and I will try it. When you wrote "For myself, I have a habit of trying to completely control other's interpretations of myself and I am pained whenever I fail at the impossibility", that resonated very strongly.

heatherann: I suspect I didn't give meditation a fair shot, and when I have time, I will take it up again. Certainly, I find passages like the ones you quoted poignant, true, and relevant.

painquale: "Before I had discovered that thread, I would sometimes mention to people that sometimes when I remembered a past embarrassing experience, I'd blurt something out or mumble something or pinch myself in order to distract myself, I guess." I actually do that too. Once again, I'm surprised that I'm not alone in that.

Again, thanks to everyone for the thoughtful and sensitive responses thus far, and if any other MeFites have anything to add, I will still be watching this thread, please contribute.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:23 AM on July 23, 2009

Just a quick note: some people who have OCD experience only obessions, not compulsions or rituals. One name I've heard for this is "Pure O" OCD. I have no idea if this is what you're experiencing, but it does sound familiar.

One interesting thing a clinical psychologist said in a meeting was that obsessions are not obsessions in the sense of "I really like [x], so I'm going to learn everything I can about [x], pursue it, and master it", but rather that obsessions = unwanted, repetitive, intrusive thoughts.

The rituals/compulsions usually come in as a way to manage the anxiety accompanying the obsessions. For some people, it provides a sense of control. Others - indeed, most people with OCD - recognize the irrational nature of their responses (e.g., arranging the dishes in this highly specific way won't actually stop my grandfather from developing cancer), but have a difficult time avoiding them, anyway.

Sorry if I got a little off-track here, though. Best of luck.
posted by iftheaccidentwill at 7:31 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

All the postings above have a lot of awesome information. I'm thankful for them and have learned some new things myself.

Two points I want to mention (or reiterate):

1. Our thinking impacts our beliefs, anticipations and emotions (among other things)
2. What we put into our minds ultimately affects our thinking

I practice over-riding negative and depressing thoughts with positive thoughts and just as importantly following up with action.

I'm obsessed with the power that each of us have to change ourselves. I feel I have personally only tapped the edges of the ability for me to change, and I spend a lot of time thinking about myself and learning about other people.

I'm very new to mediation, but what I find is that it helps me to clear my head, and then I allow myself to submerge myself into what gives me joy and peace, in my case (not invoking a debate over beliefs here), but that is my God, and how wonderfully He made us.

This also allows myself to explore my inner self; which includes gaining a realistic view of my current state, and also how I want to change that.

Although this post may not be as robust as some above I hope it is useful.

posted by nelak at 12:52 PM on July 23, 2009

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or basically acknowledgement of the irrationality of the thoughts, coupled with some kind of self forgiveness. You might try (this is coming to me now) thinking about what was positive about that experience or behavior generally. For instance, it's a good thing that you try and introduce people. You should continue it. Explain to yourself why. I think this approach could be helpful to you.
posted by xammerboy at 8:43 PM on July 23, 2009

The OP has a GAD diagnosis, IAmBroom.

Thanks, goo. Must remember to RTFA(or post).
posted by IAmBroom at 9:46 AM on August 12, 2009

What can I do about this? I've flirted with vipassana meditation, but I generally found it made my anxiety worse.

That's how it works. You need to feel your anxiety and not fight it. Let it come, experience it and let it pass. You do this by practicing not reacting to it and engaging it and not running away from it.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:49 PM on November 1, 2009

If it's shame specifically, try reading "Healing the shame that binds you" by John Bradshaw. It does not deal specifically with GLBT but may be immensely helpful.
posted by iNfo.Pump at 2:37 PM on January 21, 2010

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