Overcome Shame Using These 3 Simple Techniques
Unhealthy shame can become paralyzing. Taking steps to free yourself from your shame is essential to living your most contented life.
Shame, a toxic belief in one’s defectiveness, is an incredible enemy to all levels of health.
Most people (excluding psychopaths and narcissists) feel shame from time to time. Aside from the fact that it’s perfectly normal, it’s actually great if we want to continue living in a functional society.
However, when experiencing debilitating shame as a fundamental part of your being, rather than situational shame, then it becomes a dangerous pattern that needs to be addressed and healed.
Here are a few signs that indicate you suffer from toxic shame:
Do you often –
- Regret for your past choices?
- Afraid to be seen and visible?
- See yourself as flawed and damaged?
- Think that you need to change yourself to be liked by others.
- Struggling with setting healthy boundaries in your relationships.
- Push aside your needs, wants, and opinions, thinking that they don’t matter (a clear sign of an under-developed sense of self).
- Isolating yourself from others.
- Find it difficult to form deep connections and become vulnerable with loved ones.
- Feel blocked in your professional development.
Unhealthy and ineffective shame is intense and long-lasting. It usually has a deep-rooted cause, oftentimes it stems from childhood trauma.
You absorbed the false messages that you are not good enough just as you are. You often are embarrassed about who you are, like your entire being is wrong. It’s this frustrating feeling that makes you carry yourself in an apologetic way and hiding parts of yourself from the world.
It also makes it super hard to act on opportunities because you feel undeserving of anything good. You subconsciously believe that others are so much better than you, and you’re not worthy of well-being, happiness, and wealth.
See, sometimes, you actually acknowledge the truth that you are just fine as you are, but these moments are scarce. The feelings of unworthiness are ever-present in your mind and overwrite the sudden realizations that you’re not so bad.
So what happened, back then, that made you believe you don’t matter and so flawed?
You don’t develop shame all of a sudden when you’re in your 20s and 30s.
Usually, it originates from past painful memories that have been consolidated into junk programming that controls every part of your life.
You might believe that you grew up in a normal, loving family and that may be true. But that doesn’t mean that there were unintentional mistreats that affected you to this day.
The thing is, as a little child, you could not see it. Your brain wasn’t developed enough, at a young age, to associate your parents’ toxic behaviors toward you as their own.
Instead, your brain perceived it as — “It is my fault that my dad yells at me. I must be bad”.
This is how shame was created.
And as you continued to experience these unfortunate, painful events, the belief “I should be ashamed of myself because I am no good. Otherwise, my mom would have to pay attention to me, and my father would have smiled at me”.
When children are baffled by mixed messages or when their needs are unmet, they often conclude that they’re stupid or meaningless.
Also, you might have seen that your parents didn’t react well to your REAL self, so as an unconscious survival strategy, you CHANGED yourself so you could “fix” your parents’ problems (or reactions to you)-
The way you justified this protective mechanism with this thought:
“Who I am right now is no good. Maybe if I change who I am, they will treat me differently and give me the love I need”.
But when that tactic proved itself to be unsuccessful, the shame has rooted even deeper “Nothing is good about me. I can’t do anything right. I’m useless”.
In essence, parents who cause shame to their children (even if they have good intentions) brainwash with a one-two-three-four punch:
1. Creating an environment hostile to growth.
2. Blaming their children for creating this environment.
3. Criticizing their children when the children suffer the consequences of the environment the parents created.
4. Denying doing any of this.
Luckily, we don’t have to live with shame forever, we can heal it and break free of this devastating belief.
Check out here my special meditation that is designed to help you move past shame.
You might not agree with me as you read this, but I can tell you from my personal experience that is it absolutely possible.
Our brain in nature is plastic and we have the ability to shape it as we want. It doesn’t happen overnight, and whoever is telling you that is probably trying to sell you something.
Changing your belief system takes time, practice, and dedication. But it doesn’t have to take years. Maybe a few months if you know what you’re doing.
I, myself, battled with shame my entire life. I won’t go into my personal history now, you can read about it in some of my blog posts here.
But I will share with you that today, not only I am don’t feel shame whatsoever, I am, in fact, very proud of myself. Not in an arrogant, dismissive of others kinda way. But in a whole, complete sense. Today, I recognize my value and I appreciate my strengths and feel ok about my weaknesses.
I am in a place in my life that I don’t feel that I need to apologize for my presence or shrink down parts of myself to make others approve of me. I am past that, thankfully.
So how did I do it?
How Did I Break Free of Shame?
The first step I took was admitting that it was not my fault. It was not my fault I was treated badly in childhood (I was also treated with much love — hence, the mixed messages that generated the confusion).
Second, I refused to become a victim. Even though I knew it was not my fault, it was my 100% responsibility to heal myself.
No one was coming to save me and I knew that it was on me to create the life and personality I wanted for myself.
Suffering from shame ruined many good things in my life and also prevented me from having many good things in my life. So I made a clear decision to overcome it once and for all.
In other words — you need to take ownership of your well-being and make a strong decision that you’re sick of living in shame. That you are ready to move on, no matter how scared you are. You need to let go of your defense against being devalued by others.
Then, start entertaining affirmative statements when shame arises. If you’re on a date, at a party, at work meeting fearful of speaking up, or wherever you are…
Whenever you feel the horrific energy of shame rearing its ugly head — tell yourself statements that are easy for you to believe.
Here are a few empowering affirmations you can use –
- “It’s my natural born right to meet my needs.”
- “I have the right to express my opinions. There is nothing wrong with that.”
- “I have a right to take up space.”
- “Just like a tree or a rock, I have a right to be here.”
If you find yourself cringe as you say these then you might want to stop. Adding resistance will not help you curb shame.
In this case, find other general statements that relax you. The goal is to break that paralyzing pattern from replaying over and over again.
In addition, here is a much faster way to get rid of toxic shame. It’s a special program I created that I designed to help you remove shame and feelings of unworthiness, and finally experience joy, ease, and peace.
Read more about it here.
Believe that healing is possible. Make one good decision in the right direction and see how shame will gradually disappear. Believe that you can choose to make good choices over and over again until your life is completely changed.