Shame is a powerful emotion. It’s job is to prevent us from hurting others. But too many times, the same makes us feel like we have no worth or value. But even if the shame we feel is valid, we always have worth and value simply by being a human living on earth. It just doesn’t always feel that way.
Many times the feeling of shame comes from inside of me but it can also come from other people criticizing me. When I feel it coming on, I will try to stop and ask myself:
“Have I done anything wrong?”
If the answer to that question is ‘No’ then I allow myself to let it go and move on. Easier said than done but the more I do it, the easier it becomes.
If the answer is ‘Yes’, then I figure out what I can do. Often it’s an apology to someone else and a vow to myself to handle things differently next time.
This is my simple way of stopping shame. It’s not always easy but at least I have a tool because shame can be a very deep hole and stay with me for a long time. Over time, I’ve learned to recognize feelings of shame more quickly and get better at apologizing and forgiving myself.
In small ways, it happens with my kids if I yell at them out of frustration about something completely unrelated to them. In large ways it happens when I behave in a cowardly way. Thankfully that doesn’t happen that often. I try to be brave to prevent those instances having learned from making bad decisions in the past!
Doing the brave thing and feeling uncomfortable for a few moments is way better than feeling shame and having to go back later to apologize. Not only do I not have to feel the same, but I get to feel pride for having done the right thing to begin with and facing my fear.