How To Stop The Self-Shame
Lets face it, we all do it. Every single one of us, at some point and time, has felt that wrath of self-shame. It’s hard to understand why we do this to ourselves, but I think it often comes from a place of sound intention. Self awareness and self reflection are generally very healthy aspects of good self-care. However, hyper focusing on all of the ifs, ands, buts, and shoulds of life can be a slippery slope into the land of self loathing. It’s important to recognize the specific ways that we tend to shame ourselves so that we can work to rethink and reframe some of the things that we tell ourselves.
The foundation of most Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approaches is built by first recognizing the nature and narrative of our thoughts. We have to know what we are thinking to be able to change what we are thinking. This can be a challenging first step because it requires us to bring awareness to some thoughts that may not sit very comfortably. The key is to go gently into this process with a mindset of openness, non judgement, and growth.
Once we have a good understanding of our inner narrative, there are a few ways that we can work to shift our mindset. One of the most effective ways to change our outlook is to try out a new perspective. Try taking a thought out of context. When we isolate a thought, we realize two things. First we realize that it’s just a thought, it has no real power. Then we also realize that, most often, our self-shaming thoughts aren’t as big, bad, scary, or as true as they seem. This helps us reframe our understanding of our shame narrative, recogizing it’s fallacies and distortions.
Once we learn that our thoughts aren’t always true, we are tasked with the opportunity to replace them. It can be freeing to realize that your thoughts are yours to do with as you wish. If a thought is unhelpful or untrue, you can unsubscribe to it. You can toss it in the trash and conjure up another thought to take it’s place- a thought that is more realistic, more useful, more true.
Putting It All Together
It’s so important to be gentle with ourselves when we are dealing with negative and unhelpful thoughts. Starting from a place of non judgement can help us safely recognize some of the shameful things we say to ourselves. Once we identify our shameful thought patterns we can then work to start reframing and rethinking them.