Podcast Episode on Internalized Shame in the LGBTQ+ Community

Robert Sullivan, MHC

I recently had the honor of being featured as a guest on The Sheck Check Podcast, a mental health podcast by Erez Sheck. It was a special pride month episode, so on it I discussed my work with LGBTQ+ clients, my own personal experiences, and specific issues I have found members of the community to be currently facing.

One of the most important issues I discussed was that of internalized shame amongst individuals who identify as LGBTQ+. Internalized shame is a deeply held belief that we are somehow flawed or not good enough. The tricky thing about it is that it can be insidious. It is typically so deeply engrained from our early experiences or messages we were given, that we do not even consciously realize that it is there. The way it tends to play out is as an underlying narrative that there is something wrong with us- which then leads to thought and behavioral patterns that we might not otherwise engage in. You might see this manifest in your daily life in the form of overwhelming stress, relational issues, or symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.

It can be particularly difficult to pinpoint for individuals who have had a positive or affirming experience with coming out, as they can feel generally accepted and therefore confused as to why they would be experiencing negative feelings around it. Although it is amazing to be accepted and affirmed by the people around us, we can still be negatively impacted by societal and systemic messages of discrimination that we are exposed to.

If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community who feels like internalized shame might be acting as a barrier for you living the life you want to, it could be helpful to work with a therapist. You can search on directories like Psychology Today for LGBTQ+ affirming therapists in your area that can help you navigate negative symptoms and work towards healing.

To all members of the LGBTQ+ community, remember you are beautiful the way you are! To listen to my full podcast episode and hear more of Erez's work, clink this link. Happy Pride month!!!