Updated: Nov 9, 2022
When we don’t work on our shame, we work it out on others.
Sometimes we conflate and confuse guilt and shame.
Guilt is an adaptive emotion we feel when we assess that we have done something bad that is incongruent with our values. It motivates us to do better; to right our wrongs and live with greater integrity.
Shame on the other hand arises when we judge ourselves to be innately bad and unworthy at our core. It’s not about something we did. It’s about who we are. And it can keep us stuck and suffering from events in the past which, if we could reframe them through a broader and more self-compassionate lens, would be transformed into learning and growth for our highest good.
It can be difficult to identify where shame lives in our lives. Yet if you feel ‘less than’ in any aspect of your life. it’s likely there’s a shame story you’ve been telling yourself for so long its become normalized.
Our ‘shame stories’ are not the truth, yet they warp our perception and shape our reality. Over time, they can keep us stuck in self-sabotaging patterns that disconnect us from all that is lovable in ourselves and good our lives.
Unable to feel positive about who we are, we can project our shame onto others. We pull people down, push them away, or just blame them for all we dislike about our lives.
Certainly, some people may have contributed to the situations that birthed our shame and feelings of being ‘less than’. But in the end, shedding shame is our own work to do. We begin it by deciding not to be defined by any event from our past and then, directing our compassion inward – forgiving our fallibility and embracing ourselves as innately worthy and wholly lovable.
Only then can we let go of the perfectionist baton we have too long used to beat up on ourselves and start treating ourselves with the kindness and self-respect we yearn for at the deepest level.
So today, how about you try to love yourself more by looking within to where you’re carrying shame. Shedding shame is a profound act of healing and the ultimate act of self-liberation.