Don't let shame take away from enjoying the day!
Can you recognize shame in your life? Does the pain feel searing? Is your happiness fading?
Each of us experiences internal debates of our worth. If we have a belief that something is wrong with it will get more painful the more we think it. It can be almost impossible become realistic about our worth by ourselves.
These tips will help you see how shame is tied to your deep sense of who you are in relation to others. Neuroscience now lets us know the underpinnings of distress patterns we feel and how to start changing them.
Do you know what your body is doing when you think of yourself as lazy person? Or when you imagine being inadequate, flawed or worthless? It is one thing to be burning up with anger, and quite another to feel the deep searing sense of shame.
Shame is one of our primary affect states. We humans first blush at age 10-12 months. These neurological patterns can be seen underlying our later emerging social feelings of embarrassment.
They develop during the same time frame as our language structures and share many overlapping neurological dynamics with our abilities to attach. This is terrible and wonderful.
Our inner self-talk being tied to our preverbal effect of shame allows the two processes to magnify our emotional pain. However, because this emotional pain is so interwoven with our cognition we can learn to speak and write about it, thus illuminating it.
1. Know The Dynamics Of Your Shame, Its History And Physiological Make Up.
When feeling hopeless, helpless or overwhelmed write down any thoughts about yourself you can. This process gets easier the more you do it. Writing may cut your distress in half all by itself.
Even the most rapid firing and subliminal thoughts can be eventual uncover because they tend to repeat themselves.
Write a story of your earliest memory of feeling embarrassed in public. Some of my patients' youngest memory was in their teens. Some can remember early childhood, at church or the grocery store.
Most remember something from grade school. Each of us has a unique pattern for feeling embarrassment. It will be related to proverbially developed shame processes.
Note any bodily distress; tight shoulders, stomach distress, headache, blushing or hot face, shaky, lethargic or numb. (The FINAL FIX is to relax which you will be able to do, with ever increasing effectiveness, with these steps.)
In Step 1, it's enough to have these feelings and thoughts available for Step 2.
2. Let Someone Know Your Habits Of Shame Thinking—A Non-Judgmental Professional Is A Good Place To Start
Shame dynamics have kept your innermost fears about yourself away from the probing minds of others. The pattern of your thinking needs a fresh set of eyes. Ever patient I have treated in my 30 years as a therapist needed a more inclusive, accurate self-story.
Tell someone you trust, who will not use the information to hurt you. You need to meet with them several times after your disclosures. After you have talked through an embarrassing childhood event, both of you need to be sensitive to changes in your mood.
Even tiny new glimmers of hope may be highly important for your emerging a new attitude.
3. Pay Attention When Feeling Distressed
If there is a connection to the type of thinking you do when feeling distress to your history, make note of it. You and your counselor, spiritual advisor or friend keep track of any thinking which gets more and more obviously related to your shame structures.
4. Clarify Inaccurate Self-Appraisal.
This is not the time for positive self-talk. You will not trick your preverbal beliefs about yourself. If you are with a mental health worker ask them to do the exercises of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with you.
You and your confidant need to develop new self-appraising language by slightly adjusting any exaggerations,
5. Learn To Disregard Illogical Shame Based Thinking By Substituting Realistic Thoughts
You will need to setup self-check mechanisms to track your ability to improve your awareness of ever deeper layers of destructive thinking. This lifetime process will allow your identity to emerge in new ways.
We are the architects of our attitudes and beliefs. We can modify the architecture of our inner states. The strength of our inner states' effect on us depends on how important these processes were in our childhood.
If your inner pain is intense, and it seems impossible to share with another, seek out a psychoanalytically trained therapist. They will sensitively be a "hand for you to hold in the darkness." This are the preliminary data you need to begin to emerge a more authentic self-story.
Bill Maier is complying a book for therapists on softening shame structures by utilizing sublimation, with chapters appearing on his website: He has successful used this non-formulaic approach with hundreds of adults, youth, couples and families in a private practice setting.