How to Reframe Symptom Shame and Self-Blame

Imagine a fire alarm going off in your apartment or work place. It's a drill and such a nuisance because you're trying to do your work and have a headache that is getting worse. You're super frustrated about this whole situation and just want the screeching to stop!

Let's say a similar alarm went off in your home in the middle of the night or when your teen is attempting to cook something . You would probably treat it very differently than a practice drill.

I bet that you would even feel very grateful that it alerted you of the danger so that you can take care of it ASAP. Only after checking repeatedly that there's absolutely no fire or smoke anywhere would you decide that your fire alarm is broken and a nuisance. And if so, you'd probably get a new one at your earliest convenience, right?

Now imagine your carbon monoxide alarm going off in your home. You can't detect a problem, but knowing that the threat is invisible, colorless, and odorless, you're probably less likely to decide by yourself that the detector is broken. Most likely, you would leave, and contact an expert to assess what's going on.

Now what if this expert assesses the situation and says, "All good. It was false alarm." Would you readily trust her or him with your kids, family, pets?

Especially if that alarm keeps going off? Would you get a second opinion? A second device? Do some of your own googling and investigating into the issue?

Because what if the so-called expert's assessment device was missing a key component? Maybe your alarm was more sensitive and detecting something else that was toxic.

Would you ask your neighbors if they had similar problems? And what if some with more sensitive devices did? In that case, you would probably put your heads together & pull your resources to get to the root of this mystery.

Guess what? As a holistic psychologist and Depth Hypnosis and shamanic practitioner, I see a lot of highly sensitive clients who are dealing with scenario 2 but treat it as scenario 1. Meaning, a highly sensitive inner alarm is going off to help keep them and their house – their body – safe, but because they don't see, smell or detect the threat, they prematurely decide that their inner alarm is defective, an embarrassing nuisance, and disturbing the peace and everyone around them . . .

. . . while they should be treating it as a carbon monoxide alarm that keeps going off because it may be detecting something else that's toxic (when I put it like this, it's probably not rocket science that we're manifesting many of the symptoms of our imbalanced cultures and the alarming state of our struggling planet, and play a super important role in correcting this).

They unfortunately are certain that there's something wrong with them and feel too ashamed about their high sensitivity and "brokenness" to speak about it and compare notes with others.

Instead of feeling alarmed, concerned, eager and invested in exploring and resolving the problem – and do all that they can to help remedy our current sinking ship for future generations – , they've decided (often thanks to similar messages they received from parents, teachers, peers, media, and so on) that they and the world are better off without their annoying symptoms. They sometimes completely muffle them with their own will or with medications, which would be like throwing your fire and carbon monoxide alarms in the trash so you can be more comfortable.

What if we've been deliberately conditioned to adopt this mindset, mistrust ourselves, and trust agendas that prey on our self-neglect, low self-worth, self-doubt, high impressionability and easy manipulability for profit, power, crowd control, and political reasons driven by people who have learned themselves to despise their true nature and inner alarms?

It takes courage to reframe a lifetime of assumptions and core beliefs about ourselves and the world. It takes courage to entertain what I see as the truth: we are not some kind of mechanical device that easily gets broken. We are mysterious, divine, powerful systems that not only are attuned to and gauging our own optimal health, but the optimal well-being of all around us, including our planet.

It's impossible to "break" us or these connections. And feeling pained and uncomfortable – to get our attention –when there is a legit problem that can harm us and needs addressing is a good thing.

I have never met someone who's inner alarm system was defective. It often takes just a little bit of scratching underneath the surface to detect what triggered the alarm, see the deeper problem, and figure out how to resolve it and reset the alarm.

I have, sadly, met far too many people who not only detest their own highly sensitive inner alarms, but have decided that they are unlovable and must become someone they are not to be loved, respected, impactful, and so on.

It's high time for us to start reframing this symptom shame and self-blame. Our inner alarms are a gift and a blessing, our best-friends in disguise that never give up on us. If you are still trying to outsmart and outwit yours while it's pumping its mysterious wisdom through your body, mind, heart, and soul, STOP. You will lose this battle. Surrender to the guidance and wisdom, and you will win your life.

We're now at a crossroads in time where enough holistic and savvy healers and wisdom keepers have stopped and escaped these cycles of shame, confusion, self-blame, and powerlessness, and are empowering and lifting others and one another up.

Lindsey Fitzgibbons, a dear friend, talented healer, and longtime colleague, is one of them. This is her second round of interviews with other experts and gifted healers, teachers, and transformation trailblazers who are here to shine light on all kinds of pesky symptoms that often are dismissed and squashed as "false alarm," i.e. depression, anxiety, bipolar, fear, shame, low-self worth, addictions, self-sabotage, self-doubt, and a myriad of physical symptoms and medical mysteries.

I invite you to listen to their insightful interviews and stories. Some may resonate with yours and validate your experience. Their goal, like mine, is to alleviate shame and our knee-jerk assumptions that your psychological, emotional, mental and physical imbalances and struggles are indications of your brokenness, weakness, or whatever other BS you were fed, instead of legit calls for help. They'll offer insights and valuable guidance how to interpret and honor your symptoms as sane signals and messages to get your attention and guide you along your path and soul's callings.

Lindsey's masterclass series is also suited for those of you who have done a lot of personal healing work, know your gifts and what you want to create in your life and business, but still feel held back when wanting to share your healing gifts or creative work with the world (probably because some kind of "symptom" or residual pattern is still tripping you up and wants even deeper healing).

If you want to get to the bottom of this debilitating pattern and/or are ready to share your genius with the world, these interviews will help you:

  • to feel connected to your inner wisdom, embrace your inner alarms and guidance, and cultivate a deeper connection with your true self that will flow into all aspects of your your life and business.

  • to believe in yourself and your gifts and transform the self-doubt and insecurities that still come up.

  • to attend to old wounds, symptom shame and self-blame that still need some care and attention.

  • to learn healing modalities that will support you to get unstuck and heal on the deepest levels

  • to clear blocks and limiting beliefs

  • to develop clarity around the next steps to creating the life you want

  • to feel confident as you share your genius with the world

  • to learn meditations and processes that will help you to be more visible in the world and live a meaningful, authentic, and abundant life!

If interested in supporting and being supported by these incredible and powerful expert healers, shamans, therapists, coaches, artists and much more, then join me for this FREE Master Class series to Ignite Your Soul’s Calling: Accelerate healing, live your purpose and share your genius with the world!

Click HERE to reserve your spot.

The first class starts May 4th

(my interview is scheduled for May 9).

PS: The esteemed JiHyang Padma, Ph.D., Director of a Comparative Religion & Philosophy Program, said this about my talk at the 50th Anniversary conference of the Association of Transpersonal Psychology, “A truly masterful presentation that underscores Loraine’s clinical acumen and her capacity to empower all those in her care to achieve wholeness.”

Click this link to listen to talk: Investing in Tomorrow's Future by Empowering Today's 'Hidden Figures'

Giving myself a big pat on my back for reframing my symptom shame about hiding in the rainforest, and about experiencing political censorship, selective mutism, and second language anxiety (which included blanking out, sweating bullets, uncontrollable crying, and panic attacks while giving presentations and on interviews) and viewing these as buried treasure chests that held my power and gifts for the world.



Loraine Van Tuyl, PhD, CHT is a holistic psychologist, shamanic & Depth Hypnosis practitioner, dynamic speaker, WomanSpeak circle leader, and award-winning author of Amazon Wisdom Keeper: a Psychologist’s Memoir of Spiritual Awakening.

She believes that the most effective way to renature our denatured, patriarchal world is by supporting women’s deep wells of wisdom and game-changing missions with an inner sanctuary and personalized dreamteams of spirit guides. Her two-decade devotion to awakening fierce, wise women and highly-sensitive “Hidden Figures” has led to the empowerment of hundreds of transformation trailblazers in psychology, holistic health, academia, the arts, social justice, eco-science, and entrepeneurship through the cultivation of unwavering trust in their power, clarity, and natural genius.

She is a contributing author of Thrive Global and Rebelle Society, has presented to master- and doctorate level therapists and healers at the UC Berkeley Counseling Center, the American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences, and the Native American Health Center, and has spoken as a guest expert for numerous podcasts, radio shows, and women’s groups nationwide.