How to Identify Shame and Successfully Move Past It

Shame doesn’t always get the “credit” it deserves for being so incredibly damaging.

This feeling can make you believe you’re not good enough. It can make you think no one will ever love you. Or, it can remind you of your failures and make them feel ten times worse.

When you let shame start to take over your life, it can lead to other destructive behaviors and mental health conditions. These include anxiety, depression, addiction, and even aggression.

Most people don’t want to admit that they struggle with shame. But bringing it into the light is the first step toward moving past it.

The more you talk about your shame, the less power you give it to control you. Acknowledge it and share how it makes you feel with people you trust. Once you’re back in control, you can start to take more active steps to work through it.

What You Do Isn’t Who You Are
Most people want to be acknowledged for the things they do well in life or to have their talents recognized. On the other hand, no one wants to deal with the guilt and embarrassment that can often come from getting criticized or having an idea shot down.

It’s important to remember that the things you do and say don’t define you. If you have an idea at work that someone doesn’t like, for example, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure or an idiot.

When you let other people’s approval start to define your happiness, you’ll feel shameful if you don’t always receive that approval. Your self-worth shouldn’t be based on what other people have to say about your actions.

Instead, try to develop a firm foundation when it comes to who you really are. Look inside yourself to discover the things you like, including both strengths and weaknesses. When you take that power away from other people’s opinions, it won’t feel like the world is crashing down on you so much.

Understanding What Triggers Your Shame
You probably don’t feel shameful all the time. So, can you think of any consistencies surrounding your circumstances when you do?

Many people who experience shame have “triggers.” You may not even realize you have them, because they can be sneaky and unassuming. If you’re new at your job and someone doesn’t like your work on a project, that would probably make you feel more shame than if you worked in that same position for the last 20 years.

Insecurities make it easier to feel shame. Things like physical appearance, lack of skill, intelligence level, and inexperience are often areas of insecurities for people. Identifying what your own insecurities are can make it easier to block out feelings of shame before they start to tear you down.

Moving Past Shame
Moving past shame is about connecting with yourself. When things make you feel ashamed, it’s usually because you have lost touch with who you really are. Reconnecting with yourself is a great way to navigate the dark valleys shame can often put you through.

One way to do this is to reconnect with the people closest to you. Recruit a support circle that consists of trusted family and friends.

In many cases, therapy can help you to deal with the struggles that often come with shame. It’s important to understand that you don’t need to feel this way forever. Getting to the bottom of what might be causing these feelings will make it easier to fight back against them. If you’re ready to get started and to ditch the shame for good, feel free to contact us.