Love, Self

How To Love Yourself When Shame Starts Threatening Your Relationships

Photo: by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash
How To Love Yourself When Shame Starts Threatening Your Relationships

Shame dampens your spirit and takes the color out of life. It also kills relationships or prevents you from allowing them in the first place, because your confidence, self esteem, and self love can never bounce back from all the negative affirmations you're telling yourself.

Shame is related to fear, unworthiness, and a lack of self-love. It's a poison that often leads to health and mental health problems, unsuccessful relationships, depression, anxiety and a general dissatisfaction with life.

RELATED: You Have To Love Yourself If You Want Anyone Else To Love You

Typically, you're handed the "not good enough" messages as a child and then you collected the evidence of your unworthiness like collecting loose change.

The antidote is not about getting someone else to change their behavior or make amends for past transgressions. You don't have to feel shame just because others engage in shaming. You also need to recognize and break the habit of shaming yourself.

In fact, self-love eliminates the need to shame oneself or others.

Your power for healing lies in loving yourself. Self-love is the antidote for past shame and the perfect preventative of future shame. If you are solidly in love with yourself, you will not be so vulnerable to the unconscious cruelty of others.

And, you'll recognize your inner shaming voice as lacking credibility.

You can release and heal core shame by focusing on loving your entire self — mind, body, and spirit. This includes acknowledging and accepting all the messy parts of being a human, too. The messy parts provide your interesting colors and quirks.

Self-love activates healing on every level. It builds confidence and a sense of security in your life. It fills your proverbial well so that you can share love more genuinely and fully with others. It changes the lens through which you see life.

It sounds magical, and frankly, it is, when you really experience the connectedness, fullness, and tenderness of loving yourself.

The development of love is much like learning other skills in life. I didn't walk onto the tennis court with the ability to overcome Serena Williams. Learning to love yourself is about developing a loving relationship with yourself like you do with friend, family, or pets. It takes practice every day.

How to heal shame

When one doesn't feel self-love or even believe in it, what do you do? Here are 3 ideas that I believe are core in the process.

1. Act lovingly to yourself every day

Ask yourself, "What would it mean to love myself today?" Choose loving actions during your day.

Here are just a few ideas. Get creative about what loving behavior looks like. Treat yourself at least as well as you treat your best friend or pet.

Make eye contact with yourself in the mirror and speak loving things about yourself. Repeat a loving mantra to yourself all day like, "I love and appreciate myself (you)" or "I'm learning to love and accept myself."

Look up Louise Hay for endless ideas for loving affirmations. Give yourself compliments. You can always find things to like. "I like this barrette I chose today."

Buy yourself flowers or send yourself love notes in the mail. I occasionally buy the most romantic cards for myself. I write a love note from the Universe and then pop it in the mail to myself.

Make yourself a special meal. Hug yourself to sleep. Take hot baths with sea salts. Get your hair done. Wear only clothes that make you feel good and get rid of all the rest.

Self-love is an inside job.

RELATED: 10 Reasons Why Self-Love Is The Best, Most Important Type Of Love

2. Learn to let go of the past

This is an effective tool for dealing with painful past emotions that get activated by a current situation. You don't need to analyze why you feel what you feel. Just allow yourself to feel whatever is there.

I use this process with many clients. Begin with a short meditation for grounding in the body. Create a large container for your feelings by expanding your energy field. This tends to provide a lot of relief from difficult emotions in itself. You have a tendency to clamp down when something doesn't feel good.

Connect with your second chakra (emotional/intuitive center) by putting your hands and awareness on your lower abdomen. Now, tune into the emotions and sensations in your body. This is when you begin the process of letting go.

Simply allow the ebb and flow of your breath and emotions without analysis, judgment, argument, or attempting to control. I encourage you to make room for whatever you're feeling and let it flow out of your body as smoke, dirty water, sound, or however you perceive it.

Next, point your awareness to arising emotions or resistance to what you're feeling so that you can simply let go of those, too. No matter what arises, simply let go over and over and over.

Stay with it until you notice changes in the intensity of what you feel. You can practice it until it is all gone. This also typically reduces the intensity the next time this particular painful emotion gets activated. Over time, the reaction gets smaller and easier to let go. Also, as your skill develops you will be able to do it more easily right in the moment you need it. Be patient.

My clients experience a sense of empowerment from having an effective way to cope with difficult emotions that doesn't involve fighting with themselves.

3. Don't keep listening to negative self-affirmations

When you constantly berate yourself and then buy into it, it's like you're continually drinking from a poisoned pond. Meditate with this metaphor for a while. View the self as a landscape.

You're sitting on top of a mountain looking out over bare cliffs, a variety of forests, pastures, meadows, rivers, lakes, valleys, and hills.

There are all kinds of plants from flowers to poison ivy. There's the gamut of animal varieties.

Your shame is a stinking poisoned pond. But, there are plants and organisms that can live in there. They digest the poisons and purify the water. The rains dilute the poisons. And, the landscape will eventually reclaim the pond making it earth once again.

Appreciate the pond's beauty, its complexity and the dynamic nature that will transform it in time. There is nothing unnatural. There is nothing ugly. There is nothing evil.

Don’t drink from the pond. Don't buy into any messages that you are not enough, unworthy, unlovable, or deserving of shame.

Ultimately, all healing is self-healing.

I believe healing shame is rooted in loving yourself deeply. Acknowledge the facts of what took place, the painful wounds, and the grief of feeling it all. Healing comes from acknowledging, loving, and releasing.

Love yourself. Let shame go every day. Refuse to drink the poison.

RELATED: 6 Signs You Love Yourself Enough To Love Someone Else

Susan Franklin is a psychologist, wellness coach, and intuitive Reiki master. For more information on how she can help you embrace self-love, visit her website.