While everybody feels shame, most of us don’t recognize it in its many forms. We can experience quick, acute shame or chronic shame. We can feel different intensities of shame, the most intense being humiliation. Shame is triggered differently for everyone. Shame begins to be toxic when the need to connect and belong is not met positively. You feel ignored, dismissed, rejected, pushed aside, criticized, judged, minimized and humiliated. From there your inner voice may say, “You’re so stupid, how could you be so stupid, no one will ever love you, you don’t deserve to be loved”. Over time the shame cycle gets so ingrained and coping mechanisms within you are so reinforced that even with accomplishments, blessings and compliments you may remain dissociated from those present events and eternally be locked into original past shame. Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence and judgement which then breeds fear, blame and disconnection. Secrets intensify shame which then festers and gets bigger. Shame effects the way we live, love, work, parent and have relationships. It unravels our relationships with others and disconnects us.
Ways we may experience shame
• Shyness is shame in the presence of a stranger
• Discouragement is shame about temporary defeat
• Embarrassment is shame in front of others
• Self-consciousness is shame about performance
• Inferiority is all-encompassing shame about the self
Common triggers for shame
• Basic expectations or hopes frustrated or blocked
• Disappointment or perceived failure in relationships or work
• In relationships, any event that weakens the bond, or indicates rejection or lack of interest from the other person.
To help antidote shame, reach out to someone you trust and tell your story. Shame cannot survive being spoken out loud. Telling your story requires courage. You may ask, “How do I practice courage when I am afraid of not fitting in? How do I tell my stories about how imperfect I am?” Belonging, fitting in and being accepted is what everyone desires, you are wired to tell your story and this is a safe place to share it.
You can work through your shame and you can have the ability to connect with others. Reach out to me at A Safe Place to Share.