Shame is an extremely dangerous emotion, as it can easily trap you in a spiral of continual self-pity and sadness that you can’t break out of. Ironically, shame can be pretty easy for you to heal, but by the time we decide to heal ourselves, it has grown so much that it feels really difficult to handle. When we spend time looking at the massive growth of shame inside of us, we doubt that we can ever be healed.

Shame makes you feel bad about who you are as a person, even if you have done nothing to deserve it in the first place. You feel like you are unworthy of love or self-respect, and it can encourage negative behavior in your life. From endlessly blaming yourself, to criticizing every little thing you do (or don’t do), to neglecting your own needs, you are trapped in a cycle.

So how do we travel the path of healing shame and becoming better people? How do we free ourselves from the cycle of shaming and self-blaming? Here’s how to get started.

Forgive Yourself

Shame can come from many different sources and environmental factors, and one person’s source of shame might not be the same as someone else’s. So how do you focus on defeating the shame that you carry? The answer for the majority of types of shame is self-forgiveness. You need to forgive yourself for whatever happened or didn’t happen and recognize that you are not at fault.

Sometimes people hold onto shame because they have been abused as children or neglected, and often they blame themselves. Other perfectly imperfect people – meaning all of us – think they are at fault for the neglect or are unlovable. Self-forgiveness helps here because it is not your fault, and you need to know that down deep in your bones.

Rather than endlessly spin in these negative and hurtful memories or continue to blame yourself for something that you cannot change, turn your focus toward understanding and forgiving your sources of shame. That will help you start to heal.

Be Stronger Than Your Shame

We often feel powerless over shame and the other feelings that it brings to the table because we just don’t feel strong. Shame keeps beating you down, and it keeps reminding you that it exists every time you try to get away from it. Key point: we are not powerless and we don’t have to let shame hold us back from achieving our goals.

You can use your shame as motivation, talking to it and saying “Yes, I was hurt, but you know what, I’m still here!”

You can focus on crushing your shame under your drive – affirm that you are stronger than whatever it was that tried to hurt you in the past. Shame crumbles easily under the weight of your determination, and you can use your shame as a weapon to fuel what you do next in your life.

Focusing On Healing Others

Oftentimes, shame makes us express our pain by harming others or allowing relationships to become strained.

If this has happened to you, you need to make sure that a top priority is to allow yourself to heal those relationships that might have fallen apart. By overcoming shame and then connecting with the people who love us, we often find that shame isn’t strong enough to defeat us anymore.

If we start to believe the lies that shame tells us again, we can intentionally hang around people who know how to help us deal with it.

Finally, you can also start to use your healing from shame to help other people who might be dealing with those same feelings, helping to prevent them from falling as far down as you did. You can show them the way out – to the other side of life with less shame – because you’ve been there and done that.

Affirmations to Help Heal Shame

Use the affirmations below as starting points for journal entries. Read them aloud, and determine which ones feel easy and which ones feel more challenging. Write about your feelings for an easy affirmation, and for a challenging one. Why does the affirmation feel easy? What’s resonating with you? Similarly, why does a particular affirmation feel challenging? What emotions does it bring up for you? Give yourself permission to explore those emotions and process them in your writing.

I know my choices do not define my worth.

There are no bad decisions, just lessons.

I forgive myself.

Shame is not my burden to carry.

I will not feel shame for who I am.

I don’t need or require validation from others.

I love exactly who I am at this moment.

I am gentle with myself.

I practice self-compassion every day.

I accept my feelings and do not judge them.

I am lovable just because I am myself.

I deserve unconditional support.

About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels empowers women 50+ to Improve their Mental Health, Boost Self-Confidence, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling & Affirmations. You can learn how to use proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is a Unitarian Universalist Minister and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family), and proudly serves her community as a Registrar of Voters.

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