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Overcoming Paralysing Shame

By July 25, 2019 - 11:07pm

People feel shame for several reasons. Perhaps they experienced trauma in their earlier years that caused them to feel embarrassment, guilt, and sadness. 

In other cases, a person might be constantly surrounded by negative people who say and do things which make them feel worthless or lowly.

Shame creates powerful emotions inside of a person. Not only can it make them feel sad and depressed, but it can paralyse them from living a fulfilling life. They will no longer be motivated to achieve their goals or pursue their dreams. 

Instead, they will isolate themselves from the rest of the world because they don’t feel like they belong there.

The worst cause of shame is childhood trauma. In fact, trauma can often occur at a young age, especially as the result of abuse and mistreatment by caregivers. When a child suffers abuse from their parents or guardians, it can have a profound effect on them for decades to come.

Fortunately, there is a way to combat this paralysing shame and eventually overcome it. This is a difficult journey, but it can have a positive outcome if you work at it each day. 

You will need to learn how to change your attitude toward negative situations and your overall self-worth. Once you realise that you are worthy of love, happiness, and success in this world, then it will get easier to put shame to bed.

Below are the 5 practical steps for overcoming the shame that was caused by an earlier trauma.

Figure Out What Triggers Your Shame

Shameful feelings are rather inconsistent. Someone else often has to say something or do something to trigger your feelings of shame. 

For instance, if you suffered trauma by someone and they uttered certain words that you never forgot, then anyone else who says similar words might cause you to remember that trauma.

Obviously, you cannot control what other people say and do. But you can learn to recognise what they are doing to trigger your shame, whether they mean to trigger it or not. 

Once you recognise the triggers for what they are, it is easier to manage them.

Revisit the Incident

When trauma has caused you to feel shame, your natural reaction will be to run away from it in your mind. This will never work because the trauma will follow you around wherever you go. 

If you are ever going to deal with your shame, you must face the traumatic incident and stop running away from it.

Write down your experiences of the incident in a journal. Since a lot of time has passed, perhaps you have a new perspective on what happened. Try to organise your thoughts and feelings about the incident in your journal. 

If someone else caused your trauma, then you can finally see that it was not your fault. You were an innocent victim who was totally helpless.

Try to come to terms with that and move forward. In some cases, you might even want to revisit the physical location where the trauma took place. That will help you deal with those “ghosts” that follow you around and make you feel ashamed.

Be Kind and Compassionate to Yourself

Stop beating yourself up over the incident. Try having some compassion for yourself and the fact that you survived a horrible ordeal. There is nothing wrong with showing love and kindness to yourself.

From a medical standpoint, self-compassion can actually cause a pain-relieving hormone called oxytocin to be released in your body. Oxytocin can make you feel safer, calmer, relaxed, and more trusting of other people.

Distance Yourself from Naysayers and Shame Reinforcers

You will never get over your negative thinking if you keep hanging around people who reinforce that negativity. Since negative comments and criticisms will trigger shameful feelings, you need to distance yourself from the people who spew that nonsense. If this means moving away from certain friends or family members, then so be it.

Forgive Yourself

 Most importantly, you must learn to forgive yourself. No one else can make you feel the kind of absolution that you are hoping to achieve. Only you have the power to find absolution for all your shame and pain.

Forgive yourself for your own personal flaws and the things that you could not control. Take your shame and leave it in the past. Learn from the incident and move forward toward a brighter future. You might never forget what happened, but you can still forgive yourself for it happening to you. 

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