Shame can be a powerful, negative force in our life. It is the trademark of dysfunctional, unhealthy families.
Authentic, legitimate guilt is the feeling or thought that what we did is not okay. It indicates that our behavoir needs to be corrected or altered, or an amends needs to be made.
Shame is an overwhelming negative sense that who we are isn’t okay. Shame is a no-win situation. We can change our behaviors, but we can’t change who we are. There is no need to. Shame can propel us deeper into self-defeating and sometimes self-destructive behaviors. Shame causes us to dislike who we are as human beings, to dislike our own unique, individual selves.
What are the things that can cause us to feel shame? We may feel ashamed when we have a problem or someone we love has a problem. We may feel shame over things that have been done to us, things over which we had no control. We may feel ashamed for making mistakes or for succeeding. We may feel ashamed about certain feelings or thoughts. We may feel ashamed when we have fun, feel good, or are vunerable enough to show ourselves to others. Some of us feel ashamed just for being.
Shame does not belong to us. It is a spell others put on us to control us, to keep us playing a part in unhealthy relationships. It is also a spell that many of us have learned to put on ourselves. We learn to feel shame at the core of our soul. We must break the cycle in order to experience true freedom and joy. It is possible. You deserve joy.
Learning to reject shame can change the entire quality of our life. It’s okay to be who we are. We are good enough. Our feelings are okay. What may have been done to us in the past is not our fault. What we have done in our past is okay. The past is the past. It is okay to have problems, make mistakes, and struggle to find our path. It is our right.
Accepting ourselves is the first step toward gaining peace in our lives. Letting go of shame about who we are is the next important step. You are valuable. You have worth. Claim that worth.