WHAT IS SHAME?
In a previous post, I wrote about shame. Simply put, shame is feeling bad about oneself, while guilt is feeling bad about a situation.
Brene Brown says shame is an “intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
Because of this, many of us get into relationships with the preexisting belief that we’re not worthy of love, so the relationship is going to fail anyway. And so we exert very little effort into the relationship, which crumbles, and we get the “proof” we’ve been telling ourselves.
However, this doesn’t have to be the case. We can all gain our “happily ever afters.” We just have to make a few changes to our thought process.
5 WAYS TO OVERCOME SHAME?
- Recognize your triggers
According to PyschCentral, “triggers are sensory reminders that cause painful memories or certain symptoms to resurface.” A trigger can be caused by anything as simple as something we’re seeing, smelling, touching, and so forth. And we may react accordingly, such as getting angry or sad.
It’s important to recognize such triggers so that we can take a step back from the trigger and be in the present. The trigger is just a reminder of our past, which does not define our present day.
- Practice acceptance
It may be hard to accept the past. It’s been with us all these years. It feels like a part of us. It feels legit. However, if we let it go and accept it, a weight can be lifted off our shoulders, and we can see our present day for what it is and start moving forward.
For instance, you may have had emotionally unavailable parents, but you want to believe that they were perfect and present. By accepting that they were not there for you in childhood, you can let go of hope and begin focusing on your own mental health and well-being.
- Be self-compassionate
Self-compassionate is being kind and understanding toward oneself. We may have been highly critical and negative toward ourself because of our upbringing. Now we can change that viewpoint.
Example: when we look in the mirror, instead of critiquing how we look, we can say one nice thing to ourself. We can choose to be kind to our self the way we are kind towards others.
- Focus on the present
Be mindful and in the here and now. Notice what is happening around you, as well as within you. This is what it means to focus on the present.
Disassociate from your past by focusing on today. And don’t think about tomorrow. Just today. Just now.
- Share in a safe space
Should you find yourself in a dark, internal room of shame, talk to someone. Talk to someone whom you deem to be safe, such as a close friend or relative, or even a therapist.
Authorist Ann Voskamp says, “Shame dies when stories are told in safe places.” This means by telling your story, you’re releasing the heavy burden you’ve been holding onto. Now that the shame has come out into the open, it no longer has hold of you.
Shame may have been a part of us for many years. But it does not have to remain with us. Like a bad relationship we can break-up from our shame and be free.