Shame is a tricky emotion that is filled with complexities. Many may confuse this emotion with embarrassment as the effects are quite similar. Although embarrassment may be a result, shame is a much deeper emotion that can lead to serious self-esteem issues. One counselor describes shame as “an inner experience of being ‘not wanted.’
When comparing the difference between guilt and shame, he explains, “guilt is believing that one has done something bad; shame is believing that one is bad.” The difference is stark and can prove to be self-destructive if not handled correctly.
Where Does Shame Stem From?
It is a deeply ingrained emotion can begin as early as infancy. If a child is constantly neglected, she may begin to doubt her self-worth. Questions like, “why doesn’t my mother/father want me?” may make them question their value. They may feel not good enough or worthy of real love.
Therefore, love is found in unhealthy ways. Whether it’s abusive lovers, addiction, or even extreme measures, individuals who are experiencing this deficiency may have trouble keeping lasting relationships.
Societal norms can also play a huge role in a person experiencing shame. For example, a child who steals from a candy store may experience it after being caught being that he knows right from wrong. This feeling stems from in-grained moral codes that have we have been conditioned to follow since childhood.
However, certain feelings of shame are unwarranted. One young woman may be made to feel shameful for her personal choices simply because her parents do not agree with them. Her decisions aren’t hurting anyone, nor are they destructive. They are simply different.
Therefore, the young woman may experience bouts of self-shame while on her journey to self-discovery. Combating those feelings of unwarranted shame can be challenging. However, they can be dealt with effectively.
How to Manage Shame
Unaddressed it can lead to disastrous results. When your inner core is so damaged that you feel you are bad it affects your behavior, and more often than not this can mean a serious streak of self-destruction. Some of its manifestations include drug addiction, alcoholism, abusive relationships and other forms of self-abusing acting out.
One of the best ways to deal with projected or unwarranted shame is to find your inner voice. Place what makes you happy on the forefront and emphasize that your decision isn’t harmful. This will boost your self-empowerment and allow you to achieve free thinking. All traces of it will slowly diminish as you begin to strengthen your mind.
If you are dealing with shame from a lack of value, the importance of developing your own source of self-love is vital. In order to do so, you have to highlight the reasons why you are valuable.
Such self-affirmations include:
What makes me different?
What am I good at?
What do I do for others?
Why do I deserve love? Respect?
What can I do to further respect myself?
How can I speak to myself with positivity and care?
Finding the light within yourself takes patience and diligence. If you’ve dealt with a lifetime of feeling unworthy, likely it will take some time to reprogram your thinking. However, understand that it is your personal responsibility to find your value.
Make peace with whoever made you feel less than worthy by open communication or cutting them off. Often times, eliminating the negative source from your life will provide the needed strength to find your inner warrior.
Although shame is a difficult emotion, it can be reversed over time. Everyone deserves to feel loved, respected, and worthy of care. However, you cannot expect others to treat you with those emotions if you do not care for yourself first.
Make self-care a priority and you will soon find the effects of shame will slowly diminish. This will boost your confidence and leave you empowered!
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