Shame is believing there is something innately wrong with us.
The stories we tell ourselves about being unlovable are rooted in shame, but they can be rewritten.
Brené Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. ‘I am bad.’ ‘I am a mess.’ The focus is on self, not behavior.” We think to ourselves, “If people really knew me, they would think I am (fill in the blank with whatever word(s) come to your mind).”
Shame leads to secret-keeping, hiding, and living a life where no one really ever knows who we are.
Sometimes shame runs so deep, WE don’t even know who we are. We protect ourselves from ever being vulnerable because the cost of exposing our real self is much, much too steep. The status quo must be maintained. Said another way, shame keeps our eyes looking at the ground; binds our hearts with feelings of being unlovable; and keeps us small. Have you ever wondered, “What would my friends think of me if they knew my deepest, darkest secret?”
Here I share some tips that help transform shame-based living into one of authenticity, honesty, and courage.
Here are 10 Tips to Help You Stop Shaming Yourself:
Ask yourself, “What stories am I telling myself about who I am?” “How do you know they are true?” What evidence is there that supports your story? Whose voice do you hear, yours or someone else’s?
Name Your Shame.
What about yourself are you afraid to show the world?
Listen to how you speak to yourself. Are you kind and compassionate or are you judgmental and call yourself names?
Write About Your Shame.
Start with answering the question “who am I?” Notice the words you choose when you write about yourself.
Practice Having Mercy and Loving-Kindness for Yourself.
Think of yourself as a child and practice saying kind and loving things to her or him. What messages does s/he need to receive? How does s/he need to receive them?
Quiet Your Inner-Critic.
Do something creative like draw, paint, color, or make something and while you are doing this notice and practice not judging how well (or not) your work came out.
Tell A Trusted Friend A Secret.
Pay attention to how you feel when you do this. The key here is to pick someone who is trustworthy. You don’t want to do this with someone who will criticize or judge. Shame cannot withstand being exposed.
As a therapist who focuses on the mind-body connection, you’ll find that I always invite people to return to their bodies. It’s kind of my thing. Focus on your breath and notice how you feel in your body. With mindful awareness, quiet the inner critic and the judging that shows up. Have mercy on your beautiful self.
Get Help if You Need It.
Sometimes we need to have a support system in place in order to work through all that comes up as we cleanse ourselves from long-held beliefs that cause feelings of shame.
Practice Self-Love and Self-Kindness.
Remind yourself you are precious, worthy, and give yourself permission to cry. Watch how shame begins to fade, and you begin to blossom into who you really are.