Have you ever felt worthless, damaged, or unacceptable?  If so, you may be struggling with shame.

There are two types of shame;

Guilt and Embarrasment.

They both have their place in society and relationships, but when they are out of balance or undeserved, either can be destructive.

A healthy example of Guilt is how you might feel if you shoplifted a watch.  Every time you see or wear the watch, you would likely feel guilty because the watch was not yours.

A healthy example of Embarrassment is how you might feel if you entered a televised singing contest but sang out of tune the entire time.

In these situations, the feelings are appropriate.  We should feel guilty when we steal, and some of us should be embarrased to subject the public to our singing!

An example of unhealthy Guilt might be how you’d feel when your spouse asks you to call in sick for him/her when they’re hungover -again.  Instead of letting them face their natural consequences, you feel obligated to ‘help’ them – out of guilt.

Unhealthy shame might show up when you look in the mirror and see someone ‘ugly, stupid, or worthless.’  Somehow you’ve internalized and believed the lie over time and replay it each time you look at yourself.

In these situations, the feelings are not deserved.  They are destructive and add to the cycle of shame.

An important distinction about guilt and shame:

Shame is feeling like you are bad.

Guilt is feeling like what you did is bad.

Has shame affected your relationships and/or career?

It doesn’t have to stay that way.

We all have the ability to change ourselves, but change is hard work.

If you’d like to begin (or continue) overcoming the shackles of shame:

5 Steps to Get Started

1. Write down what brought you to this decision
2. Make a commitment to yourself/time, money, energy
3. Start a journal – ideally, write several times per week
4. Read books on self awareness such as “How People Grow” and “Safe People” by Henry Cloud & John Townsend
5. Find a therapist -because we can’t see our own dysfunctions as well as others can

.

What to Expect… The Good, the Bad, and The Beautiful Truth
 
1. It will get harder before it gets easier -just like learning to walk
2. Slow progress is not only okay, it’s to be expected
3. Look forward to learning how to accept responsibility for your own actions, and let others take responsibility for theirs
4. Dependency: Learning to ask God to carry you through the tough times
5. Being able to say what you mean, and mean what you say. 
6. That ugly, stupid, worthless person in the mirror will eventually become someone you used to know
 

What about you?  Has shame affected your life?

Advertisements