Have you ever had a moment in your life that makes cringe when you look back on it? Have you ever had a moment that made you loathe yourself so much that you wanted to stay in bed with the sheets over your head the entire next day? Well, let us say then: Welcome to being a human! Every single one of us has experienced shame and if someone claims that they haven’t they’re probably lying-and experiencing shame from that too!
Being conscious of the shame that you are feeling can help you turn it into something constructive but if we let it consume us it can be one of the most powerful destructive forces around. In this blog, we’re identifying three types of shame and how you can overcome the self-loathing and turn it into self-loving.
Shame that society puts on us
Whether it be how you live your life to the style of clothes you wear, society’s expectations of us can often be overwhelming. When we don’t meet what we perceive as the expectation of society we often feel shame about ourselves, our behaviors and our actions. Well, let us give you some comfort in telling you that shame is not unique to you! Everyone feels shame and a lot of it can be eliminated simply through better understanding and acknowledgment. Below are our best tips for how to deal with and process societal shame.
1. Be aware of who is setting the standards.
You might have read the title above and thought negative aspects? Isn’t societal shame all negative? It might seem that way but societal shame can give you an opportunity to ask yourself an important question: who is actually creating these expectations? You might be surprised that most of the time it is you. Are you putting your own thoughts onto society and playing the victim? Think less about what society thinks and more about what you think society thinks. It’s time to flip the script and be aware of your expectations vs. society’s expectations!
2. Know that it happens to everyone
Intellectually you know that you’re not the only insecure person. From judging our food choices to how we walk everyone has things they feel society judges them on. Societal shame happens to everyone and often about the same thing. You are not alone when it comes to feeling like your reality is not meeting society’s expectations.
3. Accept that your reality will never meet the expectations of society
If you are chasing society’s version of perfect, you are chasing something that doesn’t exist. Society is made up of so many different people with different expectations and ideas of perfect. This means that it is literally impossible for your reality to meet all of society’s expectations and by embracing this you’ll feel more secure, powerful and happy.
This is the style of shame most of us have a long lasting relationship with. We are experts at shaming ourselves. This is when our own reality doesn’t match our current circumstances and we all do this to ourselves to varying degrees.
Ways to overcome the negative aspects of self-shame:
1. Talk to yourself like you’re talking to a loved one
Give yourself a break, we can be the most critical and harsh when it comes to talking to ourselves. When you are speaking to yourself ask yourself, would I talk to my friends/loved ones/kids this way? This is a great way to start practicing healthy self-talk.
2. Reach out to someone you trust
It might take some time for you to feel comfortable talking about the shame you feel, but it will make you feel better when you do. Brene Brown says, “Shame cannot survive being spoken, it needs security, silence, and judgment”.
3. Tell your story
Use your story of shame to connect with other people. Everyone experiences shame, it is your choice to either continue to suffer from it or to learn & grow from it.
You might be asking yourself are there really positive aspects to self-shame? Isn’t it something we should avoid ever feeling? Although self-shame can be detrimental if you let it run your life it can also be a powerful motivator if you use it in the right way. Ask yourself, what am I feeling shame about? Dive deep and understand why you are feeling shame and if there is anything you can do in this area to make a change in your life for the better.
Have another person’s reality ever not met your expectations? Do you make your disdain about others vocal and known? This type of shame can bond you well with others, but in the long run it can really hurt you. This is an area of shame that might make you feel uncomfortable to talk about but whether we like to admit it or not, none of us are innocent of this.
Here are some steps to overcoming shaming others:
1. Address that you are doing it
This is the step that is going to make you uncomfortable, but we all have been guilty of this at one time or another. In order to grow, you have to recognize the areas in your life that need work.
2. Understand why you are doing it
Chances are there is a reason why you are shaming someone beyond someone’s reality not meeting your expectations. Are you trying to make yourself feel better about self-shame that you are feeling? Are you trying to connect with others by mutually shaming someone? The low road is an easy connection point but think about how the low road doesn’t lead to happy and strong relationships. Probably not. Dive deep into why you are shaming others, shaming will never solve your problems.
3. Know the effects that it has
SHAME ATTRACTS SHAME. When you shame others everyone involved is negatively impacted. The longer you continue to shame others, the longer you are neglecting the actual problems that you are experiencing. If you can become conscious of why you are shaming others and realize that negative effect it is causing then you can learn from it and become a better person and if you don’t than it will hold you back forever.
Shame is a strange topic and one we don’t want to shy away from. We all experience it and we all have our ways of coping. By bringing it into awareness and actively working to utilize shame we can grow from our experiences and achieve high