Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.
To experience shame is to be fully human; to at times feel inadequate, insufficient, inferior, unworthy and even unlovable. While guilt is the feeling of doing wrong, shame is the feeling of being something wrong.
While shame is most noticeably experienced the moment we realize we’ve done something wrong or stupid (kissed that frog, spilled coffee on a stranger) or failed to do something right (be there when your best friend needed you the most), in its most dangerous form shame can become a pervading experience, shaping our every thought and action.
Shame is costly. Too many of us spend our lives devoid of the security and joy we deserve because of it. Thankfully, whatever the origin shame does not have to be our destiny.
Here are some ways we can live in radiance rather than in shame:
Ditch The Past
The shameful parts of your past have no credible place in the glorious part of your present or future. Unless you intentionally choose to invite them in, your mistakes, failures and even breakdowns don’t deserve a role in the beautiful unfolding of what is yet to come.
Sing A New Anthem
Come up with and memorize three mantras, affirmations or verses that speak to the core of your true identity and value such as: I am strong, capable, talented and resilient. Let this be your new anthem.
Sift Through Lies
Don’t get lost in your own head. It can be a dangerous place to wander. Our thoughts have tremendous power to paralyze us with feelings of unworthiness, shame and inadequacy. Until we learn to control our self-deprecating thoughts, they will control us. A three-part recipe for renewing the thousands of thoughts you have each day includes:
Recognize your thoughts: Take each thought captive, identify and chastise the lies and release the truths.
Reject the lies that are not aligning with your true value. Refuse to believe them.
Renew your thoughts: Refine and rephrase them to reflect true and good things.
Shame thrives on feelings of being isolated. When it gets us all to itself, shame loves to mess with our heads. If shame as Dr. Brené Brown said is indeed the feeling we are “unworthy of love and belonging,” one of the best ways to combat such an erroneous belief is to engage in healthy community. Summon the courage to tell someone safe what’s been robbing you of your joy. Chances are you’re not as crazy as you think. If you’re terrified to share the source of your shame with even one of your closest friends, invest in a counselor. Brown says that shame needs “secrecy, silence and judgment” to grow exponentially in our lives. Don’t give these three weeds the water they need to grow.
Be brave, take heart and don’t give shame the upper hand in your life.
What are some weeds you can clear out of your thought life this week?