We all have negative thoughts about ourselves and certain thoughts can bring us down and cause doubt or a great amount of fear. It is completely normal when we do something wrong that we feel guilty, embarrassed or some type of remorse. Doubt can be a natural feeling when doing something different and it's a natural part of the process in decision making. But that is not the type or dose of shame I am referring to when I talk about it.
Shame can have many different names and these are just a few:
I'm not loveable.
I'm not good enough.
I'm not worthy of being respected.
I do not deserve to be heard.
I hate who I am.
I have to be perfect all the time to be acceptable.
I am bad.
I am not capable.
I am a failure.
There's a huge distinction between believing that you are inherently a failure versus failing at something. At the core we all desire to be loved, accepted, valued, respected, and capable. These core beliefs and desires impact how we feel about ourselves and the world around us.
Shame's greatest ploy is to deceive us into believing that we are all alone and that if we share our story that we will be horribly rejected or again "shamed." It can also convince us that we are not worth getting better and that we will be stuck in this forever. Shame can be so persuading for us to stay stuck, hopeless, isolated, and defeated. If this sounds like you, please keep reading.
How do we work through our shame?
There is no magic formula or a quick solution for this answer but here are some ways to work through your "shame," (in no particular order).
Find ways to speak to the shame: What does shame mean to you? How can you identify it in your life? How do you address it? Acknowledging that something is what it is is the first step to making it lose it's power.
Start by practicing self compassion: Be kind to yourself. Truth and kindness can come together. One does not have to be in the absence without the other. When we encounter shame in a consistent and pervasive way, we may need to practice more kindness so that we can even look at the truth and be honest with ourselves.
Know that you are not alone: Shame is tricky. It convinces us to hide. Not to be exposed. Yet one of the greatest antidotes to shame is to share your truth. It is equally important to do that with people who are emotionally safe to do so with. Take steps to find your people.
Remind yourself that it takes time: Our beliefs take a while to change. Especially beliefs about ourselves. Be patient with yourself and the process.
If you interested in learning more please contact Sharon Chan LMFT in Orange County. Provides teen, individual, and children therapy.