Have you experienced shame? That sinking, gnawing feeling in your stomach when you think or know you have done something wrong – or worse, when you think you are inherently somehow wrong or bad?
It is the weight of self-blame that rests on our shoulders, in our heart, mind and spirit. It can be a healthy emotion, but it can very often be a debilitating emotion. Look at how we can tackle it differently:
Shame can be destructive
Healthy shame may be temporary and can teach us to take our intuition seriously, to control our knee-jerk reactions. When we embrace this type of emotion, we may learn about ourselves. We may look at life with the eyes of a student, constantly curious, wondering how we can improve. The shame that reminds us we aren’t perfect (who is?) is not a reason to stop trying. Instead it’s a reason to try again — to keep practising every day, because no matter how many times we get knocked back, we can always try again.
Unhealthy shame, on the other hand, is a spiral of self-victimisation. We tell ourselves we are defined by our failures or others’ negative behaviours towards us. We tell ourselves we don’t have any control over this negativity and that we’re a lost cause from the start. The road of unhealthy shame leads to pain. And we can get stuck in the feeling.
Turn towards your shame
But emotional freedom is only found when we process shame in a healthy, positive way. Next time you recognise your own shame, don’t be afraid to face the source – the more you look at this and learn to process it the freer you become. This may be too overwhelming to do alone, so seek someone out, but don’t avoid it.