Shame is an extremely complex human emotion that we all either have experienced or will experience at one time or another. You might feel shame because of something you dislike about your appearance, challenging events related to your past, your family life, or even a lack of education. You might feel that you’re not worthy of the good things you want to see manifest in your life. Shame shows itself in many forms.
Even if you struggle greatly with managing your shame, trust in the knowledge that you can heal it.
Consider the following methods to strengthen your emotional health, soothe your spirit, and relieve the burden of carrying shame:
1. Identify shame’s presence. Because we tend to try to cover up or avoid that which embarrasses or demeans us, you’ll probably need to confront your own emotions and work through them.
* Are there particular people in whose presence you feel embarrassed? If so, analyze why these people encourage those feelings – is it something they say? Something they do?
* Perhaps when you’re in a specific type of situation, you notice that you tend to close down emotionally or feel numb. Try to lessen the tendency to “shut down” by removing yourself from the situation, or noticing the trigger and counting to 5 or more before reacting.
* Begin to take note of when your emotions are either stirred up or flat (which means you feel nothing at all). Once you’ve tracked several instances, analyze them to see what commonalities there may be and what triggers are present.
2. Recognize you’re “only as sick as your secrets.” In the counseling profession, there is a saying: “We are only as sick as our secrets.” This adage means that the things about ourselves that we keep to ourselves are the exact issues that we need to acknowledge and do something about.
3. Consider discussing your shame with someone you trust. Because shame can be a tough emotion to handle, it’s helpful to have someone you can talk to about it. Whether it’s a close friend, your partner, or a professional, it will free you to put words on those feelings.
* The more you talk about it, the better you’ll be able to gain some understanding about what triggers your feelings of shame. Not only that, but also talking about your shame de-mystifies it and makes it something real that you can resolve and move past.
* A mental health or counseling professional is trained to facilitate people in identifying their troubling issues and learning to understand and manage challenging feelings. If you believe you could benefit from this type of assistance, by all means, avail yourself of it. Some employers provide mental health or counseling services as part of their benefit package to employees.
4. Be brave. It requires courage to share your insecurities with another person. Your bravery reveals your passion, strength, and optimism.
5. Learn to love yourself. No matter what your past challenges or shortcomings, you deserve to experience the uplifting feelings you can get from self-love. Even if you think you have a lot of spiritual “blemishes,” you must allow – and even encourage – yourself to see your real beauty within.
6. Connect with your spiritual power. Whether it’s your religion, an interest in Eastern philosophy, or a strong belief in Mother Earth, establish a connection with whatever spiritual power you believe in, and leverage that connection to build your personal sense of power.
* When you have a spiritual power you can lean on, you’ll likely find solace and the strength to face and resolve your personal shame.
7. Have confidence that you’ll overcome. At some point in life, we all have our difficulties to deal with, our challenges to manage. Reach deep within yourself and you’ll find the confidence to persevere. No matter what you’ve been through, you are still HERE. That means that you’re already ahead of the game, and you can keep moving forward from here.
* Remember that you’ve resolved challenges before and know that you can conquer this one, too.
Shame is a normal human emotion that we’ve all felt. If you’re willing to do the work, you can resolve the hurt and shame you feel inside. Use the methods outlined above to start moving forward toward a happier, more rewarding life. You do have the power to heal your shame.