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Letting Go of Shame

Charléa is a third year medical student and has embraced the tips shared in her own life to experience emotional healing and wholeness.

We all have dealt with feelings of shame and embarrassment. In this article, I dive a bit into a few ways to overcome shame.

I’ve heard it said that shame convinces us to believe not “I did something wrong,” but “I am something wrong”. Shame can be a nagging internal voice or the external voice of someone whose opinion you value. If I were to poll, I can bet that most of us have heard one of the following: you are an accident; a mistake; a screw-up; a failure; too much to handle; not good at that; you’re never going to change; you won’t amount to anything; you’re not handsome/beautiful/smart/funny enough.

Friends, allow me to speak the truth to your heart and mind. You are loved. You have so much to offer the world. You are seen and heard. Your presence is appreciated. You get better every day. You can and will unlock the gifts inside of you. Every part of you is beautiful. You already are enough in every way possible.

We sometimes feel embarrassed, guilty, vulnerable, self-conscious or humiliated because of a situation, but we shouldn’t sit in those feelings forever and allow them to overtake us. What would happen if we stopped mindlessly replaying it all? Every action, sentence, or moment that didn’t go the way we thought it would. What would happen if we chose to find opportunities to grow instead of reasons to tear ourselves down?

The moments that we want to redo so often consume us that we forget to live. We miss the moments in front of us. Moments that when we survey our lives, we’ll realize were the ones that mattered most, not because they were grand, but because we were with the one we love most or found joy in the simple things.

Now, don’t get my words wrong. Living shame-free doesn’t mean we go about our lives without regard for others nor does it mean that we don’t right the wrongs that we might have caused. It means that from a place of self-confidence and assurance, we can reflect on our behaviours, actions, and thought patterns, and make conscious decisions to embrace wholeness and health. Self-awareness and self-belittling are not the same thing despite what we been programmed to believe.

Here are some things I have found useful in my own life to overcome shame:

  • Ask yourself: “Heart, how are you feeling right now?” If we never acknowledge the feelings, we’ll never be able to face them. Maybe the step after that is figuring out what triggers you have to stir certain emotions. Possibly, after you’ve come to terms with that, speak with a trusted friend, mentor, or even professional.
  • Remind yourself that things you’ve done are not who you are. Even if you made a mistake, you are not a mistake. Shame would have us find our validation based on our skills, intelligence, looks, etc. Our sense of worth has to run deeper than that. It must be based on confidence in our identities and knowing our value.
  • Make positive declarations over yourself. For example: "I have creative ways to impact the world around me. I don’t work for love, but from love."

It will not happen overnight and that’s okay. Be patient with yourself and celebrate every victory. Every step matters so remember that the “little things” are important. Keep pushing friends and know that you matter. Our world needs all that you bring, all that you’ve yet to discover in yourself.

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