You don’t have to suffer shame because ultimately shame is self-defeating and unhelpful. We’ve all said and done things we’re less than proud of but that doesn’t mean we have to live a life of self-recrimination.
Guilt and shame may appear related but their roots are different. Guilt is what we feel when we’ve done something that causes hurt or upset to others. Shame occurs when we feel we are wrong or we don’t live up to normal expectations. Both are natural reactions to circumstances but they are also negative and potentially dangerous emotions. Why? Well, they can easily trap you in a spiral of continual self-pity and sadness that you can’t break out of.
Ironically, shame isn’t so hard to get past when it comes down to it, but often, by the time we decide to heal ourselves, it has grown so much it’s almost hard to recognize how it developed into such a monster. Looking at the massive growth of shame inside of us, we doubt that we can ever be healed.
You Don’t Have to Suffer Shame
It’s true, you don’t have to suffer shame because shame makes you feel bad about who you are as a person, even if you have done nothing at all to deserve it in the first place. You feel like you are unworthy of love or self-respect, and it can cause a lot of negative upset in your life. From endlessly blaming yourself, to criticizing every little thing, to neglecting your own needs, you are trapped in a cycle.
The roots of shame are often embedded in childhood and come about from what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Cultural and religious practices may stigmatize certain behaviors, so even thinking about them can cause shame. Trauma and abuse survivors typically feel shame, yet they are the victims.
So how do we go down the steps of healing shame and becoming better people? How do we free ourselves from the cycle of shaming and self-blaming? Here’s how to get started.
Shame can come from many different sources and environmental factors, and one source of shame might not be the same as another source. So how do you focus on defeating the shame that you carry? The answer for almost all types of shame is self-forgiveness. You need to forgive yourself for whatever happened or didn’t happen, and also recognize that you are not at fault.
Sometimes people hold onto shame because they have been abused as children or neglected, and often they blame themselves or think they are at fault for the neglect or are unlovable. Self-forgiveness helps here because it is not your fault and you need to know that.
Rather than endlessly spin in these memories or keep blaming yourself for something that you cannot change, instead focus on understanding and forgiving your sources of shame. That will help you start to heal.
Be Stronger Than Your Shame
We often feel powerless over shame and the other feelings that it brings to the table because we just don’t feel strong. Shame keeps beating you down, and it keeps reminding you that it exists every time you try to get away from it. However, we are not powerless and we don’t need to let shame hold us back from achieving our goals.
You can use your shame as motivation, talking to it and saying “Yes, I was hurt, but you know what, I’m still here.” You can focus on crushing your shame under your drive, by saying that you were stronger than whatever it was that tried to hurt you in the past. Shame crumbles pretty easily under the weight of your determination, and you can use your shame as a weapon to fuel what you do next in your life.
Focusing On Healing Others
Sometimes, shame is so embedded it makes it so we harm ourselves, or others, or allow relationships to get strained. If this has happened to you, you need to make sure that a top priority is to allow yourself to heal those relationships that might have fallen apart. By overcoming shame and then connecting with the people who love us, we often find that the shame isn’t strong enough to defeat us anymore. You don’t have to suffer shame and neither do you need to make those around you suffer.
And if we start to believe the lies that shame tells us again, we’ll be around people who know how to help us deal with it. Finally, you can also start to use your healing with shame to help other people who might be dealing with those same feelings themselves and prevent them from falling as far down as you did.