Shame is a bit like guilt, but it is more personal. A person may feel guilty for stealing something, but they feel shame for being a thief. When you feel guilty, you feel bad about a specific event. Shame is more pervasive and personal. You might feel shame for being a poor partner or even being the victim of abuse.
Think of guilt as “I did something bad” and shame as, “I am bad.”
The only people that never feel shame are psychopaths. At least now you know you do not have to deal with that issue!!
Here are some ideas to let go of feelings of shame:
1. Explore why you feel shame.
What happened? What does that event or series of events say about you? Is that a reasonable interpretation on your part? Are you being too hard on yourself? Is it possible that you did not do anything wrong at all?
- Be honest with yourself and someone else you trust. The truth might be that you do not love your partner anymore, or you prefer it when your kids are out of the house, or you are unhappy.
- A simple confession can give air to your shame. The more you hide it, the more intensity it has. Bring it into the light and much of its energy will dissipate.
2. Understand that you are not permanently defined by your behavior.
No one is perfect 100% of the time. Everyone does things that are considered “wrong” or “bad” at times. Everyone has thoughts that make them feel ashamed. Even the most moral people make mistakes or think thoughts that violate their value system. It is part of life.
- The things that you have done, or have happened to you, or that you are feeling do not have to affect you forever.
3. Forgive yourself.
Even if you understand the cause of your shame it does not taint your character forever, you might resist the idea of forgiving yourself. Why? Does your suffering accomplish anything? Does it help the people around you?
- People fall out of love. Parents have second thoughts about being a parent. Affairs happen. Mistakes are made. Life is still going on, with or without you.
4. Consider what led to feeling shame.
Can you prevent this from happening again in the future? What can you do about it? How can you avoid the situation or behavior that led to this feeling? Can you make changes in your life that will alleviate the feelings of shame?
5. Avoid those that are intent on making you feel shame.
There is always someone that feels obligated to make you feel as bad as possible about yourself. This is precisely the type of person no one needs in their life. Surround yourself with people that want the best for you.
6. Avoid situations that trigger your shame.
Maybe you feel shame about not being able to financially provide your family with the lifestyle you wanted for them. You might avoid driving through the wealthy part of your city where the sight of the million-dollar homes triggers your shame.
7. Connect more with others.
Studies show that the more isolated you are, the more likely you are to feel shame. When you are regularly interacting with others in a meaningful way, you are less likely to feel shame. Even if you do feel shame, you will be kinder and more compassionate with yourself if you have a sense of connection.
Shame is one of those unenjoyable parts of being human. Remember that you were born without shame. You are still the same person you were before you felt shame. If you are unable to deal with your feelings of shame successfully, seek out professional help. Letting go of your shame will set you free!!
Are you ready to make personal and spiritual changes in your life? Consider a one on one private session with Moira or a reading to free yourself from limitations and open yourself up to greater possibilities? Click here to open the door.
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