Unraveling Shame – Deeper Exploration

Published On: May 15th, 2024
Earlier this month we began to explore that shame keeps us stuck in “survivor mode” feeling unworthy.

This blog shares some steps to examine and begin to dismantle the thoughts that keep us stuck. We will explore the feeling of shame, the importance of self-compassion, and the value of speaking our truth.

Remember everyone feels shame.  You are not alone, and healing is possible.

Exploring the Feeling of Shame

Shame is a self-conscious emotion that arises from the sense that something is fundamentally wrong with you. When we have shame, we often feel inadequate and full of self-doubt but these experiences may be outside of our conscious awareness. That makes shame hard to identify and deal with.

Identify your shame through feelings and emotions.

Given shame can be largely unconscious, identifying and labeling shame appears to be a key component in resolving it.

Labeling emotions helps us better understand ourselves, our experiences, and our behaviors.

So, to start, name your shame.

  • You don’t have to share this with anyone else.
  • Just write down, “I felt shame when…”
  • Describe a few times when you felt shame.
  • It might hurt to acknowledge it, but once you do, you can start to resolve these emotions.

Recognize shame physically.

By recognizing physically when we are in shame’s grip, we can name it and find our way through it.

Often obscured by other painful and difficult emotions, such as blame and fear, triggers can go unnoticed, causing us to react in inauthentic ways that only serve to exacerbate our shame.

Take some time to reflect on each of the following questions to better understand your physical reaction to shame.

  • Where do you physically feel shame (for example, stomach, head, shoulders, etc.)?
  • How does it feel (for example, butterflies in your stomach, tense shoulders, etc.)?
  • How do you know when you are ashamed?
  • What would shame taste like?
  • What would shame smell like?
  • What would shame sound like?

Scan your body to see if this exercise has created any tension.  Take three deep breaths and envision the tension flowing out of your body.

Learning to recognize shame will help you gain power over it.

Embracing Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is a useful tool to improve our self-views and combat our inner self-critic.

  • Write a self-compassionate letter to yourself, but imagine writing it from the point of view of someone who is more powerful than you (a boss, a parent, a teacher, someone who shamed you in the past, etc.).
  • In the letter, make sure their message is kind, supportive, and compassionate. Share words of validation like, “You are a good person worthy of love and success.”
  • Name the specific positive characteristics and traits people have said about you.

Try loving-kindness meditation.

Repeat this practice for a week and see how your well-being improves.

Begin by sitting comfortably and place one hand over your heart and the other over your abdomen.  State out loud the following:

  • May I be full of loving-kindness
  • May I be happy
  • May I be protected from inner and outer harm
  • May my pain and sorrow be eased
  • May I accept myself, just as I am
  • May I know the joy of being alive

Practice self-compassion over self-judgment.

  • Developing self-compassion includes becoming more understanding and forgiving of ourselves when we perceive our failures and inadequacies.
  • Instead of being hard on ourselves, self-compassion involves recognizing we are imperfect and that the obstacles we face in life are inevitable.
Speaking Our Truth

Failing to speak our truth, keeping it secret, and experiencing judgment fans the flame of shame.

When we can’t find the right words or don’t have the right opportunity and audience, we are left alone with our fears; we shut down and accept our lot.

We must truly connect with and own our story. This connection enables us to feel valued, affirmed, and accepted.

Begin by understanding what your limiting beliefs are trying to teach you.

Even the harshest critic has insight embedded in the noise.

It’s up to you to find the time to create a pause in your life to better hear and understand the engrained script in your head.

In the pause, nonjudgmentally observe the themes and reflect on what you can control.

You have the ability to rewrite your narrative if you are kind and patient with yourself.

If the idea of examining your limiting beliefs and rewriting your narrative appeals to you, I invite you to explore the healing guide, Awakening the Light: A Survivor to Thriver Going-Forward Story.

At Survivors to Thrivers, we believe that we all have a right to transcend mere existence.
  • With bravery, hard work, patience, and love, we reclaim our story from victim to thriver.
  • You can gain profound inner strength and know what it means to truly means to live.
  • As you emerge from the hard work of survivorship, you know you are far more than your abuse; you are resilient and an inspiration to all those you meet.

We look forward to hearing all the ways you are shining your light to help cast out the shame surrounding abuse in your community; share your stories, thoughts, and tips via email, blog comments, or on our social media channels.

Thank you for being a part of this loving, uplifting and empowering community.

Establishing Support

We connect with others by sharing experiences and establishing mutual support.

  • This is crucial to combating shame because it facilitates the empathy element of connection, which helps you put courage and compassion into action.
  • Further, once you learn how to express your own shame and ask for support, you’re better equipped to listen to others and provide them with support.

Talk To Tambry

I am glad you have taken the time to engage with this blog.  Sometimes it is helpful to process new insights that emerge.  If you would appreciate brief time with a someone who understands, our Talk to Tambry offering is for you.  For 30 minutes, you can receive support from Tambry who is a certified life coach, spiritual director and a survivor who has been on the journey as well.  This is offered at a reduced rate of $50.

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