I remember when I was a young girl, I struggled with feelings of inadequacy. I wanted to be anyone but me. I didn’t like my teeth or my nose. I was embarrassed by my body. The list truly could go on. What I was feeling was a strong sense of shame.
Shame and guilt are often thought to be the same thing. However, they are quite different.
Guilt focuses on behavior. When we experience guilt, we have gone against our own code of ethics. It is an emotion often used as an internal conscience. It help people not to act on harmful impulses.
Shame focuses on the self. It’s not that someone did something bad, that person is bad. The person is damaged good and doesn’t measure up.
A person cannot progress in life when they are existing in shame. The concept would be like saying you are incapable of doing anything right, but do it anyway.
When we’re in shame, we don’t see the bigger picture. We feel lonely, exposed and deeply flawed.
Some people live their lives moving away from shame or moving toward shame. Moving away from shame encapsulates withdrawal and shyness. A person might hide by working all of the time, or staying in an unhealthy relationship. Moving toward it involves pleasing everyone we can at our own expense.
According to author Brene Brown, shame needs three things to survive: silence, secrecy and judgment.
We must find the courage to move past the surface of shame, by talking about it, we find the different ways it drives our fears – fear of rejection, fear of taking risks, fear of other people’s judgments and of course the hatred toward our own bodies.
With shame, a person is more likely to engage in bad habits like smoking, overeating, pulling their hair out, and addiction.
So, what can we do about it?
FIRST: Name it. It cannot hold you hostage when you name it. Look at statements like, “I’m embarrassed” or “I feel like such a nobody.” These statements reveal shame.
SECOND: Develop an awareness for when you’re experiencing shame. When you become aware of it, you can interrupt it.
THIRD: The inner critical voice, as I wrote about in a previous post, needs to be tamed so the Ego can be repaired. One way to do this is treating yourself as you would treat your best friend. Or even a 4 year old. Would you tell a 4 year old that s/he’s worthless? No. So you don’t get to say it to yourself.
Some people were picked on as children because of some physical flaw or lisp. From that, they might develop a belief system that they are worthless and unlovable. Even if they correct the “flaw”, and haven’t worked on the “worthless feeling,” it’s possible to continue to attract situations that compound on the negative beliefs and continue to cycle the shame felt in life.
However, with hypnotherapy, we can identify shame and where it has come from. By doing this, shame can’t haunt a person. We can put it back into the past and let go of it, as well as, the hurt, pain and confusion.
FOURTH: It’s necessary to place yourself amongst supportive and loving people. By surrounding yourself with positive people, you’re not hiding or withdrawing. As we reconnect with ourselves and our self-worth, our ability to connect with others increases. We also become more resilient against shame.