We all struggle with the feeling of shame at some point in our lives. Yes, the feeling of shame can be extremely horrible, painful, and can even lead to a high level of self-loathing and internal conflict.
In extreme cases, the feeling of shame makes it difficult for you to seek help from others, and even when they try to offer some, you feel unworthy to enjoy such love and affection from them.
As a matter of fact, the feeling of shame and self-loathing can greatly affect or interfere with your self-development and progress in life.
Signs of Shame and Self-Loathing
Identifying the signs of toxic shame is the first and best way to overcome shame in your life. Here are some indicators that you may be living a life of shame
- A general feeling of low self-esteem
- Imposter syndrome (“If people really knew who I am, they would hate me.”)
- Dysfunctional and unstable relationships with others
- Failure to connect or fear of connecting with others
- Constant self-criticism
- Angry or defensive behaviour
- Feelings of irrational guilt over things you’re not guilty of
- A chronic feeling of worthlessness
- Chronic and compulsive people-pleasing
- Settling for less than you truly want either in your relationship or career etc.
- General mistrust and suspicion others
- Shame anxiety (the chronic fear of being shamed or exposed to shame)
Practical Steps To Overcome Shame And Self-Loathing
- Identify your shame triggers
Although identifying what triggers your feeling of shame may be a bit difficult to point out at first, but once you notice that you feel any of the shame signs above, you can easily nail your shame triggers.
To identify your shame triggers, you may have to think back to what suddenly happened that made you feel the way you are feeling. In most cases, it might be what other people said to you that made you feel vulnerable or a shameful event you were caught.
Once you can point to any of these, you can point to a particular shame trigger, and you can easily learn how to manage such triggers with some healthy responses.
- Avoid Shame Reinforcers
Words from people around you can serve as a major shame reinforces that hurt or belittles you.
Also, it could even be your parent, friend, spouse or partners who may be reinforcing the feeling of shame within you.
If you are in a relationship with people who reinforce the feeling of shame within you, the choice to be in an emotionally healthy relationship is yours, and you have the right to surround yourself with people who are lovable and understanding.
On the other hand, if your shame reinforcer is your spouse, consider going for a counselling session together so that your partner can learn and understand the reasons of your feeling of shame so that they can create boundaries to curtail subsequent occurrences.
- Adopt Self-compassion
The feeling of shame is closely linked with self-loathing, and this makes it very difficult for you to be loving and kind towards yourself.
To overcome any feeling of shame, treat and talk to yourself with love and kindness, and always reaffirm within yourself that you cherish and love yourself.
Practice this until your thoughts and feelings towards yourself change to that of self-compassion and love.
Studies show that self-compassion leads to the release of oxytocin hormone, which is responsible for boosting the feeling of safety, trust, calmness, connection with others and emotional stability.
- Get rid of shameful tension in your body.
The feeling of shame comes with lots of tension that may affect your level of coordination and productivity. You can release any shameful tension by;
- Spend some time with your pet
- Laugh more often
- Take a walk at a very comfortable pace.
- Try some meditation
- Doing some yoga
- Listen to some cool and refreshing music.
- Getting a massage
- Taking a warm shower
- Take a refreshing drink of water.
- Accept love, kindness and seek help.
It’s very common to feel unworthy of help, love and kindness from others when you are engrossed in the feeling of shame.
In most cases, the feeling of shame may get you feeling like a charlatan receiving love and kindness from others. Well, this shouldn’t be so.
Accepting love and kindness from others, and seeing their deeds from the perspective of love and concern is a good way to grow out of your web of shame.
The feeling of shame is a common emotional trauma among many people. The shameful feeling is closely linked to self-loathing, and both can stir up the feeling of low self-esteem, constant self-criticism, self-sabotage, and even settling for less than what you deserve.
Some simple practice to curb the feeling of shame includes practising self-compassion, accepting love and kindness from others, identifying shame triggers and avoiding shame reinforcers.