How to Keep Yourself Out of the Shame Cycle

By: Madison Hedlund

You know that feeling when you’ve said too much, spoken too loud, and let yourself be seen? You feel a bit weary, sick to the stomach, and have thoughts racing in your mind:

“How did I show up?"

“Was I awkward?"

“How did I make them feel?"

“Am I likable?"

“Am I worthy of love?"

Have you ever felt like something was wrong with you?

Have you ever felt ashamed of your body, your personality, or your passions?

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I have.

From being told I wasn’t curvy enough in high school, to being told in college I was too loud, to launching my business and fearing what people would think about my work. Shame is the sneaky mean-girl in my mind, telling me to hide my body, hide my personality, and hide my passions.  Shame is the voice that tries to keep me small. 

Shame keeps you small by creating fear that if people really knew you, they wouldn’t love you. 

In my work as a life coach, I’ve worked with countless women who live driven by fear of being “found out,” aka: afraid of being shamed for who they really are. 

Here’s the thing though, shame will keep you from you calling. Shame will keep you from meaningful friendships. Shame will keep you from feeling loved!

It’s only though compassion and curiosity can your shame be tamed.

I have not found a forever-cure for my shame. I don’t have my clients do a 3-step program to get rid of shame, and I surely have’t nixed the feeling completely. But, I can tell you that your shame can’t survive when you approach your life with a sense of compassion and curiosity. 

Approach yourself with compassion:

Let’s stop pretending anyone believes you are perfect, shall we? The gig is up, we all know you’re human! Take a deep breath and settle into your humanity. Give yourself a break. You are doing the best you can in this moment and you can’t know what you don’t know. You are growing, learning, and expanding. You wouldn’t shame a baby for stumbling as they learn to walk, so there's no need to shame yourself for not being “there yet.” Take it easy on yourself, give yourself some grace and allow yourself to be human. 

Approach yourself with curiosity:

There’s a huge difference between noticing something and judging it. So you slipped up again, you saw something in yourself you don’t love, you were criticized. When these things happen, what if instead of going to automatic self-judgement mode, you simply stayed curious? 

I practice curiosity by asking myself these simple questions:

“How might I be lying to myself here?"

“How did I learn this behavior?"

“In what way does this behavior serve me?"

“What would love do next?"

These questions allow you to stay curious instead of jumping to shame! They keep you open to being human and actually help you change patterns that don’t serve you. After all, shaming yourself into change never works! 

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Next time you feel exposed and feel the shame creeping in, stay compassionate and curious. Nothing is wrong with you; you’re perfectly human and so worthy of love.