I Didn’t Mean to…..Healing from Shame.
(created July 6, 2015)
Finding our way in the world does, in fact, require a healthy dose of self-reflection and focus. It requires us to look objectively at our own strengths and weaknesses…and we all have both! But working on the self should be a self-loving task, and cannot be accomplished in an atmosphere of self-depreciation, self-blame or shame. It doesn’t matter how well we perform on the job, at home, or on a skill-based task or competition. When we feel a sense of shame it tends to color the way we perceive everything. It robs us of our energy and vitality. Shame often leads us to automatically discount our skills and successes. Even if we receive praise, compliments, positive interactions, and recognition from others, when we experience feelings of shame, it can re-emerge and deplete our energy, make us to feel inadequate, and have low self-worth.
Healing from shame involves being aware of when we experience those feelings, working and successfully moving through it, and recovering with more forgiveness, courage, and compassion.
It is important to note that your road to recovery and healing is an ongoing, takes time but, can be positive and rewarding. Change is a process.
Five possible strategies that may prove helpful in your process of healing:
Begin to act in ways that demonstrate that you are a person of worth and value. Sometimes even if we feel like we are not good enough, we can still operate in the world as if we have worth. This essentially sends a message back to ourselves that counteracts the shame. If we treat ourselves and others with respect, we develop more pride and self-esteem. It is important to be a good advocate for yourself in your journey toward wellness, or healing from shame.
Learn to develop compassion for yourself. Make a conscious effort and find ways to be loving toward yourself including accepting that you are human and that you have limitations. When you act in ways that you don’t like, be curious about it rather than critical.
It is important to be present, in the here-and-now-- aware of your mind and body. Sometimes we may experience difficulty living in the moment. We often spend our energy ruminating about the past, our mistakes, traumas, and anticipating the future. Shame is a primary emotional energy which poses the greatest challenge to living mindfully. We need to become a detective on our own behalf and be aware our emotional triggers. Having an awareness of our self-depreciative, automatic and negative emotional reactions can increase our chances of pausing, reflecting, and most importantly, learning to respond in a more positive and intentional way.
Get reconnected with someone that you, trust, nonjudgmental, and is meaningful in your life. Be open, take a risk, and share your story. Sharing your experience lessens the negative feelings we attribute to ourselves and our sense of shame. Being connected with “something larger” places our life and our self in perspective. We feel humbled and brought back into our life as it is, ultimately becoming better equipped to experience a greater sense of appreciation, openness, compassion, and patience for ourselves. Then we can begin appreciating our life for how it is, rather than how we want it to be…and ultimately healing.
And lastly, remember a moment in your life when you were free of shame, a moment of delight or inner peace or serenity, when shame was nowhere to be found. Feel that feeling in your body, holding it in awareness and acceptance. This self-loving task provides us positive energy, wellness, fosters compassion and heal from feelings of shame.