Self-Stigmatization and Why it is Holding You Back
Dealing with mental illness or mental health concerns in generally can come with a lot of feelings of shame. That mark of shame or discredit is stigma which can be put on us by the outside world or even ourselves. The outside world places stereotypes on labels including mental health. Self-stigmatization is when those outside beliefs become internalized and we begin applying those ideas to our own self. It can feel like a voice inside your head telling you that you aren’t good enough, like you are broken, or something is wrong with you because you struggle with anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns.
When someone experiences discrimination, it can feel impossible not to take it on. Those messages that the world is sending become internalized and it becomes an adopted core belief. A person can only hear the same message over and over so many times, whether from family, society, or another source, before they start to really believe it as a truth about themselves.
While you can see that self-stigma is happening for you, how is it impacting your life? You may notice that you set unrealistic expectations for yourself, you feel a lot of shame and guilt, you employ avoidance tactics, you lose confidence and motivation, you may start to withdraw from others, you may isolate yourself, you feel a deep sense of loneliness. All of those things can happen along with many other ways that self-stigmatization can impact your life.
How do we start to address self-stigmatization? There are no proven ways to rid yourself of these thoughts and feelings, but building your awareness of self-stigmatization and how it is impacting your life allows you to be aware. The awareness gives you more power to work to challenge your thoughts and assumptions and work to reframe those thoughts. Support groups can be helpful and reaching out for therapy can be incredibly helpful to explore these beliefs, where they came from, how they are impacting your life, and also build skills and tools to dismantle them.
Certain types of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can provide tools and techniques in challenging, reframing, and dismantling the thoughts that are leading to self-stigmatization. To find a therapist best suited for you, using a directory such as mental health match, psychology today, or therapyden. To connect with me, you can book your free 30 minute consultation on our website or feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Although I am a therapist by profession, I am not YOUR therapist. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not replace therapy and does not establish any kind of therapist-client relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information. To see more information about our disclamer(s): https://www.mindfulsolutionscorp.com/disclaimers