When we asked Beurkens which emotion is the hardest control, she had a quick response: “Shame. Shame is a big one.”
As she tells mindbodygreen, she’s seen countless people in her work who are stuck for long periods of time in what she calls “shame spirals.” Without even realizing it, she notes, people caught in shame spirals have identified with their shame, internalizing it and coloring their perception with it.
“I think shame is the hardest emotion for people to deal with because it’s so deeply rooted. It’s an insidious emotion because it involves so many things—it’s not like fear or joy or embarrassment. Shame is rooted in so many aspects of how someone sees and feels about themselves, and other people, and how they perceive the things that have happened to them,” Beurkens explains.
And not only that, but shame is as difficult to understand as it is to unpack. “To even realize that’s what they’re contending with, to name that, is tough for people,” she says, adding, “It’s really something that most people—in some way, shape or form—are struggling are grappling with, whether they realize it or not.”