Self-imprisonment may sound like a crazy concept. Yet millions of people have sentenced themselves to a lifetime of shame due to poor decisions that ended up being major regrets.
Although consequences are often necessary to help avoid making the same or similar wrong choices in the future, when you punish yourself for a detrimental outcome handed to you or caused by you, the result will always be the same - a mutilated perception of who you are. Instead of viewing poor decision-making as the problem, your humanity is seen as the problem, which is impossible to resolve.
According to a national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, Millennials possess the most negative attitude toward themselves. (Hence the fixation with self-love and self-care.) However, no amount of mantras, manicures, or money can rid the feeling of self-hatred. These deadly thoughts must be extracted one by one from the root and replaced with the truth. This process is laborious and oftentimes painstaking, but it is the prerequisite to seeing yourself as who you were created to be; and it starts with understanding what shame is, from where it originates, and the harm it brings with it.
What is shame?
Shame is a consuming feeling that you are not enough. “I feel ashamed of myself,” is usually not shouted from a megaphone or plastered on a t-shirt, but instead manifested in behaviors driven by a poor self-concept. From people-pleasing to overeating, shame comes in various forms.
For a list of the different faces of shame, click here.
Where does shame originate from?
Shame originates from a fallacious belief that you are a screw-up, a failure, a mistake due to a poor decision. Regardless if that decision was made by you or by someone else, the outcome drastically impacted your life and dismantled your core.
Is shame really that serious?
A resounding, “YES!” Shame is suicide. When we choose to cohabitate with shame, we kill every opportunity to live life to the fullest. Here are just a few of the many ways shame causes destruction:
Shame is cyclical and generational -- It is kept in secret and because of that shame continues and carries on to the next generation.
Shame clouds your judgement -- It impedes your ability to process situations accurately.
Shame enslaves -- It puts your potential in chains.
Shame blinds -- You can’t see your true beauty or worth.
Shame isolates -- It keeps you from connecting intimately with others.
Shame attracts abuse -- People who don’t realize their value attract people who will treat them poorly.
Shame conditions you for addiction - It seeks temporary relief by overindulging in fleeting pleasures such as food, sex, drugs, pornography, gaming, alcohol, etc.
Shame desires attention -- You seek approval or acceptance from things and people that do not have the power or means to fulfill you.
Shame causes discontentment -- You compare and covet what other people have.
Shame ruins relationships -- When you don’t accept yourself, you will automatically have the wrong expectations of others.
Unlike several other conditions that can be regulated by medication or behavior modification, shame is deep-seated and frequently unbeknownst to its victims who have learned how to suppress and/or numb this feeling.
To discover if shame is possibly an issue you need to work through, click here and take the Shame Quiz. A score of 13 or more indicates that you may need to give yourself permission to heal, and this process can start now right using these Top Six Shame Busters:
Seek Understanding -- If you have experienced any type of abuse or have been exposed to violence in the home, work with a professional to better understand trauma and the impact it has had on you personally. You cannot address what you don’t understand.
Sustain Your Well-being -- Every human being is a composite of three distinct parts: spirit, soul, and body; and, each element must be preserved in order to experience health, wellness, and inner peace. Start treating yourself with dignity. Eat and exercise like you love your body. Guard your mind like you love your soul. Pursue righteousness like you love your spirit. No matter what you’ve done or been through, it is God’s will for each part of you to be loved and secure.
Shake it Off -- Choose to forgive yourself and others. Many of us were young, dumb, and/or immature when we made unwise decisions, and the people who hurt us were just as misguided. You do not have to live in mental and emotional captivity. Pardon the person you were and look forward to becoming the person you were created to be.
Surround Yourself with Loved Ones -- Eliminate anyone from your circle who uses you for their benefit, does not appreciate your presence, and/or does not respect your worth. If a toxic person happens to be a family member, minimize your interaction and make it clear how you expect to be treated.
Stop Hiding -- You are beautiful and marvelously made. Instead of fearing further failure, let your light shine. Use your voice to speak the truth. Use your feet to stand up for what is right. Use your gifts and skills to fulfill your purpose and make the world a better place.
Share Your Story -- It’s hard to be ashamed of what you’re willing to share. Let others be inspired by your life -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. The lessons you have learned are not for you to keep, but for you to share with others. When we are transparent, our lives can be used as warning signs and beacons to help guide others to decisions that reap blessings instead of sorrow.
Overcoming shame is a process that must be won for a bright future. Decide today to stop hiding what needs to be addressed in your heart. Only when we bring our flaws into the light, can we move forward with confidence.