- Do you sometimes walk into a party and feel excruciatingly self-conscious?
- Do you get furious at yourself when you make stupid mistakes?
- Do you find yourself making lists and comparing yourself to friends and colleagues and coming off second best?
If this is you, you could get relief by learning to recognise when shame is bringing you down and learn tips for recognising and releasing it.
Imagine this situation….you have deadlines pressing and it has been a day filled with technological challenges and frustrations. You are stressed and exhausted, so you send off the last email for the day with a sense of satisfaction of a job completed, only to realise seconds later that you sent it to the wrong person! You are embarrassed, you’ve been caught out, exposed and you look unprofessional. Unfortunately it’s just one stuff up too many and the critical voice we all have in our head begins to take over big time. Your feelings begin to spiral as you catch yourself having a very nasty conversation on the inside. “How could I do such a stupid thing, my attention to detail is hopeless. I look like I don’t know what I am doing. I’m so useless..” and on and on the destructive internal dialogue goes.
Whenever someone’s fundamental expectations in relation to an accomplishment is suddenly exposed as wrong, shame is activated. Those of us who experience this excruciating feeling often have probably grown up being criticised, misunderstood or rejected often.
It can be quite challenging as an adult to change these ways we speak habitually to ourselves on the inside. If you are beating yourself up a lot, and feeling stressed you may be suffering from far too much self – blame, and self-contempt. Here is a tip to help you the moment shame comes crushing down on you:
TIP – Refocus your attention. Shame is about attention turning inwards, you need to refocus back outside. Make yourself curl your toes in your shoes. Look at the sky. Count the cars. Use any visual or physical stimulus to interrupt the shame cycle before it takes hold.
Of course this tip won’t prevent deeply embedded shame that we have lived with for years. For really healing shame you need to fully learn to nurture and forgive yourself. Therapy offers a model of a new relationship, a new way to relate to yourself and to change that enemy we all have within us. The experience of a genuine and honest human relationship that provides some of your needs for caring and respect, can help you learn new ways to talk to yourself when you feel exposed. To get started on turning down the volume on the critical voices, find a good therapist and remember the sooner you call, the sooner you can get started reducing those awful feelings of inferiority that interfere with your ability to love and work.