How to stop feeling shame
Shame is a powerful emotionthat causes a lot of pain. Like all emotions, it has evolved for a purpose and understanding what it is for can help you deal with it more effectively.
In this week’s round-up, I’m sharing some of the most useful resources I’ve discovered on the subject of shame. I hope that you can use them to help with some of the challenges that you experience in your life.
Shame can hide away
Shame isn’t always easy to recognise. Other emotions can mask it. Filled with anxiety and worry, fears of the worst dominate your thoughts. When you peel back the layers what you find is a fear of failure. To experience failure is to experience shame.
Anger can mask the feeling of shame too. We can rush to defensive aggression or criticism of others’ behaviour, all in the service of avoiding shame. Given that shame feels so bad, what the blinking-heck is it for?
What is shame for?
Know one likes to talk about their shame; not me and not you. It hurts, right? It also makes us feel naked and vulnerable. Naturally, we tend to hide our shame. We bury it, and we withdraw into a busy mind of self-criticism and contemptuous chatter.
These isolating responses serve to protect you. If other people’s aggression shames you, then this withdrawal is an attempt to distance yourself from that hurt. If your mind shames you, then it’s a sign that you’ve not met your expectations or rules about what is moral. Similarly, the urge to withdraw serves to protect you from social exclusion. Stay away and you can’t hurt them any longer.
However, departing from your shame and others does almost nothing to teach you about how to make it better.
How do you deal with shame?
Just like other emotions, shame has evolved in helpful ways and unhelpful ways. Thankfully, the wisdom of spirituality and the discoveries within psychological science provide us with some more powerful choices.
The most powerful response to shame that I’ve observed is self-compassion. It is for this reason that many of the resource you’ll read about or listen to dig deeper into self-compassion. You’ll learn about what it is, how it helps and how to do it. If you aren’t sure where to start, then take the self-compassion test. You might be surprised to learn what self-compassion is and what it is not.
Without further ado, here is this week’s round-up of ideas from around the world to help you work, love, play and feel better.
The Openforwards Weekly Round-Up
- How to deal with feeling bad and feeling guilty. A how-to article on the Openforwards blog.
- How to be less self-critical using mindfulness and self-compassion. A podcast interview with the down-to-earth psychologist and one of the founders of the Compassionate Mind Foundation, Dr Mary Welford.