“Shame is a soul-eating emotion”- C. G Jung
There may be certain things that we’d rather deny than talk about it. We may feel anger or rage or just irritation thinking about it. We may call it many names but essentially it is shame that is deeply rooted somewhere within us.
Whether we accept it or not, we all suffer shame at times, whether we are wealthy or poor, overweight or skinny, successful or struggling. Shame has the ability to shut us down or manifest in ways that are harmful to ourselves and others. It’s been connected to addiction, violence, aggressiveness, depression, eating disorders, and bullying, so learning how to cope with it and creating healthy boundaries against it is critical.
All of us, like the majority of human beings, have felt shame at some time in our life. For some, even the tiniest infraction of personal beliefs is enough to cause shame, whereas for others, shame is not felt until the transgression is substantial.
Yet, shame is an unpleasant emotion that we all want to be free of as soon as possible. However, there are universal and particularly personal aspects to dealing with the aftermath of shame.
Understanding and acknowledging shame
To properly cope with shame, we must first understand where it originates from. Shame is significantly more profound than ordinary embarrassment, according to an American Psychological Association article, and is most frequently the result of a moral infraction. While isolated humiliation is conceivable, the majority of shame is felt while others are present.
According to academics, shame serves to either deter us from harming our social ties or to push us to restore them if we do. Researchers concluded that shame is part of a universal, developed human character.
Healing through shame requires addressing it and discussing our stories with the people we trust, those who know we aren’t flawless but still appreciate us. Their compassion will allow us to put our feelings of shame in perspective while also assisting us in developing coping skills.
We refuse to let shame linger or shape us by admitting it. “When we bury the tale, we remain the subject of the tale for the rest of our lives,” explains Dr. Brown. “We get to narrate the finale if we control the story.”
Sometimes it’s not evident when we’re experiencing shame. Anger, irritation, dismissiveness, procrastination, and sadness are some of the symptoms. This could take some reflection upon ourselves to discover that shame lies at the root of certain persistently difficult feelings. By asking why, we may go further into these feelings.
That is why recognizing our feelings of shame are the first step in coping with them.
Identify and Monitor Shame Without Judgment
Once we’ve figured out how to recognize shame, we should try watching it without passing judgment. This may be really difficult since no one like how they feel and we are overly critical to ourselves. It’s normal for us to push it aside or distract ourselves with something else. However, because we continue to be afraid of it, this merely makes the emotion worse. We need to permit ourselves to feel it instead. We should pay close attention to what kind of thoughts are occurring when we face shame.
Analyzing Shame: Write to Reflect
What part of your body do you feel it in? Is it a fearful feeling? Are you disgusted? What ideas come to mind when you think about it? Make sure you’re not fueling your guilt with self-criticism; simply be with it.
Acknowledge the thought. “That’s one way of seeing things.”
Explore where it comes from. “My parents always looked at me like I was a failure when I didn’t meet their expectations.”
Consider evidence for or against it. “What about the things I’ve done right?”
Consider other perspectives. “I made a mistake, but I can fix it — and now I know what not to do next time.”
Develop Compassion over Shame
Begin with creating compassion for oneself in order to go past shame. We are frequently more harsher on ourselves than on others. Indeed, if we treated others the way we treat ourselves, we would most likely be shunned or imprisoned.
Self-love, like other types of love, does not come quickly. It must be nurtured before it may thrive. Exploring positive aspects of yourself or personal values that are important to you might help you increase your self-worth.
Take a step back once you’ve discovered a cause of shame and attempt to think of yourself as you would a friend. Imagine a buddy telling you they were embarrassed by something you did or something that occurred to you. Imagine behaving with compassion, understanding that, despite their flaws, your buddy deserves to be happy. Try to feel the same way about yourself.
Cope Shame by Seeking Help
People who suffer from toxic shame are more likely to be in toxic or difficult relationships. Patterns that mimic childhood events might be appealing because they appear to give the chance to repeat those early connections and cure the hurt they caused. Or perhaps you think you are unworthy of better.
Allowing yourself to explore rewarding connections with others who care about your well-being, on the other hand, is more likely to help you break free from poisonous guilt.
To rewrite deep-seated guilt, it may take a lot of love and compassion from loved ones, but patience and self-compassion may help.
Shame may be so prevalent that overcoming it on your own might feel impossible, but don’t give up. As you begin to investigate its roots, recognize its influence on your life, and practice facing it when it sneaks into self-talk, a professional, sympathetic therapist can give help and support.
Affirmations to Fight Shame
Many of us who struggle with self-compassion also battle the shame or self-doubt monster, which may rear its head at the most inopportune times.
Cultivating self-compassion, like exercising a muscle or learning a new skill, necessitates practicing “talking back” to the shame monster. The goal is for your internal voice to become stronger and louder than the voice of self-doubt over time.
Some affirmations to repeat after:
I am working my recovery.
I am an imperfect yet worthwhile person.
I have value and worth.
I can love myself and accept my past.
I am recovering with the help of others.
I have done bad things, but I am not a bad person.
It is OK for me to talk to others about what I am thinking and feeling.
I am letting go of my shame.
I am fearlessly and rigorously honest in all aspects of life.
Outward failures are learning opportunities. They no longer dishearten me.
Negative feelings are just feelings. They don’t last.
Today my mind is open and heart is full.