Tuesday, 8 March 2022

How to overcome feelings of shame

Shame can be an extremely toxic and damaging emotion and more often than not, it’s caused by how you’ve been treated by other people in the past. The perceptions and behaviours of others towards yourself can create a negative voice in your head that leads you to believe you’re not good enough, you’re unlovable or you don’t belong in a certain group. In an interview with Brené Brown, author and researcher in shame and vulnerability, she states that shame is an "intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging".

Although feelings of shame usually emerge during childhood, it’s not uncommon for adults to also feel the same emotions. Unless these thoughts and feelings are confronted, the long-term effects can seriously damage our mental health and affect the way in which we live our lives. Shame has been linked to bullying, depression, eating disorders and addiction so it’s important to find ways to deal with it.

Ways to control feelings of shame

  • Acknowledge our feelings and talk about them. Many people who suffer from feelings of shame don’t like to talk about them with anyone else as they can be something that they’ve kept as their personal secret. But by opening up and discussing our feelings with someone we trust we take away its power. Not only can close friends and family offer us a non-judgemental ear, but they can also reassure us of our positive traits. Accept that not everyone’s opinion is right, or important for that matter. The negative opinions of others can play a big part in causing feelings of shame, especially as many of us want to feel accepted or admired. But in many cases, the people who do cause us to feel shame are really not the ones we should be desperately trying to please. 
  • Take risks and learn from experiences. It can be difficult to take risks especially when we always fear the worst or think that we’re not good enough but one of the best ways to overcome feelings of doubt and shame is to accept disappointments and build up an immunity to insecurity. The more we experience disappointment, learn from it and look for the positives, we will grow our self-confidence and the voice in our head will become kinder. 
  • Embrace who you are. Instead of trying to people please and be something you’re not, recognise your positive qualities and speak kindly to yourself. The more you practise positive self-talk, the more your insecurities, vulnerabilities and feelings of shame will diminish.
  • Create new connections. By connecting with people similar to yourself who have matching interests, ideas or thoughts, you’ll start to feel more at home in the world and it will increase your self-worth.

Further information

You can watch our free webinar recording and check out all of the resources provided using this link: Overcoming Shame and Learning To Love Yourself

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