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Overcoming Shame is a Process

Oct 25, 2023

Shame. It's something we all experience, yet it often makes us feel like something is uniquely wrong with us. I want to provide hope for you that there is a path to freedom from shame.

Shame originates from disconnection and broken relationships. We were designed for unconditional love and acceptance, so when that's lost, we start questioning our worth and covering up the vulnerable parts of ourselves. The story of Adam and Eve illustrates this poignantly. Before sin entered the world, "they were naked and unashamed." Intimacy meant being fully known.

Though shame feels intensely personal, it is a universal human struggle. We all have areas of shame, whether related to our bodies, personalities, experiences, or actions. The reflex is to hide these parts of ourselves through isolation or overcompensation. But the opposite of shame is not pride - it's love. Healing comes through reconnection.

This requires bravery and vulnerability. We have to open up, bit by bit, to safe people who can empathize without judgment. Support groups are a great example of this. Imagine walking into a room and introducing yourself: "Hi, I'm Henry, and I'm an alcoholic." The simple response, "Hi Henry, good to have you," begins the healing.

Shame recovery also involves overcoming the shaming voices in our own heads. We've internalized negativity from early experiences, and we have to learn to recognize and dispute these messages of unworthiness. Reprogramming our thinking with more loving voices is essential.

We need to take action, stepping into the very areas that shame once blocked off. If shame kept you from singing publicly, now is the time to belt it out on stage! It takes courage, but leaning into the pain is the only way to move through it.

The journey from shame to freedom is eminently possible. With supportive community, internal work, and bold action, you can come out from under the burden of shame and into greater wholeness, connection, and purpose. The process won't be linear, but have hope. You can do this.

Here are 10 tips to help you in the process of overcoming shame:

1. Recognize that feeling shame is a universal human experience. You are not alone.

2. Understand that shame originates from disconnection and broken relationships. Healing comes through reconnection.

3. Open up to safe, non-judgmental people who can empathize with your experiences. Support groups can be very healing.

4. Name and process shameful events/feelings. Make them objective rather than subjective.

5. Separate out things done to you vs. things you've done. Appropriately place blame/responsibility.

6. Become aware of personal triggers for shame and avoid them when possible.

7. When triggered, reach out to supportive people rather than isolating.

8. Identify and dispute shaming self-talk with more positive messages. Rewire your thinking.

9. Take steps into areas where shame previously held you back. Move through the pain.

10. Remember that connecting to others, self-work, and bold action together build the path to freedom. Have hope!

Get Dr. Cloud's free guide on how to deal with the toxic people in your life. 

Dr. Cloud can help you live the life you were meant to live!