Experiencing shame is part of being human. But we don’t need to stay in shame. Learn to recognize it, heal from it, and walk in freedom. This is part 10 in a series on shame.
If we are human, shame is a part of our life.
It’s something we don’t want to experience, but we do.
We try to avoid it, but like a boomerang it finds us.
We can feel shame when we don’t live up to our own expectations.
The expectations of others.
When others don’t perceive us the way we want to be perceived.
We can be shamed by words. Actions. And by things done and not done to us.
So how do we overcome shame?
How do we kick it to the curb for the trash truck to haul away?
What is shame?
To overcome shame, we need to first be able to recognize it.
Shame attacks our identity. Who we are (not what we do). It is a self-awareness that something is wrong with us and it is our fault. It tells us that if people knew the truth about us they would not want to be our friend.
Shame makes us feel isolated and unworthy. It tells us we are inadequate. Not good enough.
Shame often occurs due to an event or because of the words or actions of someone else towards us. We misinterpret the event as something is wrong with us, and then feel shame.
Our art teacher makes negative comments about our picture in front of the class and we interpret her words as saying something is wrong with us (not our art work). We hear that we are not like the other kids who can draw. And it is all our fault.
Shame wants us to hide our shameful parts. To be someone else because we are flawed and un-loveable.
So many things can shame us.
Next, we need to know what shames us.
1. Our past can cause us shame. Lack of education. Meager childhood. Abuse. Bullied. Parents divorced. Absent mother. Abortion. Poor mistakes and life choices. Sins.
2. Our personality and who we are can shame us. Being to sensitive. To emotional. To tall. An introvert. To loud. A daydreamer. Outspoken.
3. Our lack and limitations can shame us. Lack of money. Health problems. No kids. Dyslexia. Labels and diagnosis. Mental capacity. Addictions.
4. Our spiritual life can shame us. Lacking in spiritual maturity. Not giving enough. God not talking to us or leading us. Inconsistent with prayer. We don’t fit the Christian mold.
5. Our society can shame us. Mother shame. Body shame. Not fitting in. Being left out. Not being able to do it all. Needing help. Lack of acceptance.
6. Having more than others can shame us. Having a job. Opportunities. Kids. A nice house. Being white. Having privilege.
So many things can cause us shame, but what shames one person, may not shame another. We all have different trigger points that cause us shame.
What shame tells us.
Thirdly, we need to identify what shame is telling us.
The lies it grows within our soul. The lies we believe and carry around for years.
“You are not good enough.”
“You don’t deserve more.”
“You don’t have a seat here.”
“Something is wrong with you and it is your fault.”
“You are the problem.”
“You deserved to be treated that way.”
“Why do you even try?”
“The truth will send everyone running from you.”
It tells us there is no cure. We just need to try harder. Hide more. Be something different. Wear masks. Keeps secrets.
It has no grace or love. It doesn’t allow us to grow or change or overcome our past shame. It tears us down. It doesn’t present a solution. And it is a master liar.
Shame versus reality.
Shame and God are opposites.
Shame sees us with condemning eyes, God sees us through unconditional love eyes.
Shame reminds us of our past, faults, and limitations. God tells us we are precious, loved, and he has washed us clean. He sees our potential and good and has no doubt we can do what we need to. He gives us his spirit to help empower our lack.
Shame judges us and we come up lacking. God judges us and we come up enough, clothed in his son’s robes.
To heal from shame, to flight shame’s lies, to overcome shame, the best thing to do is know who God is. How he sees you. What his plan is for you. His attributes. His love and care for you.
To know your worth and whose you are.
You fight shame’s lies with God’s truth.
Shame attacks our God given identity with its lies. While God’s truth releases us from lies and gives us a new identity.
Shame wants us to hide ourselves. God wants us to be ourselves.
Shame traps us. God frees us, releases us.
Shame wants us to give up. God wants us to press forward and use his power.
Shame says there is no cure and it’s our fault. God says he has the cure and is the cure.
Shame says we are un-loveable. God says he loves us no matter what and will never stop.
Shame wants our identity to come from our mistakes, our past, our sins, and limitations. From things we did and didn’t do.
God wants our identity to come from who he says we are. He wants us to know we are beloved, and he delights in us. He pardons our sins and does not condemn us in any way, but clothes us in white robes. God focuses on our future, not our past, and always tells us the truth.
How to deal with and overcome shame.
1. Admit to feeling shame, being shamed. Shame is like a secret that grows with our silence. Once we say it, release the secret, the power shame has over us weakens. Speaking about it to safe people helps heal us. It creates connection and community with others. Others often step forward saying, “me too!”
2. Fight the lies of shame with the truth of God. Write down and identify the lies that shame tells you. Now write down the truth, what God (or your best friend) would tell you. Cross out the lies. Now hang up the truth. Remind yourself of it daily.
3. Talk to God about your shame and the lies you believe because of shame. Ask him to heal you. To see yourself through his eyes. To see him as he is. Our faults, sins, and shame do not deter him, in fact they endear us to him.
4. Look up more than inward. Shame is self-focused. It focuses our eyes on us and what is wrong with us.
5. Shame is being human. Realize we are all driven by shame. Feel shame. Try and avoid shame. It is part of being human. God knows this and gave his son as the cure.
6. Empathy stamps out shame. Give yourself empathy. Give others empathy.
7. Allow yourself to be human. To make mistakes. To crash and burn. To make bad judgement calls. To upset people. This is part of being human. Give yourself many tries to get something right. (It’s called a learning curve for a reason.)
8. Stop comparing yourself with others. It often creates shame. Seek to please God, not others.
9. Give yourself grace. And then more grace. God does.
10. Know yourself (and love yourself) and have realistic expectations. God made you the way you are for a reason. He doesn’t expect you to be anyone but who he made you to be. Delight in who he made you to be. He does.
When we study God and who he really is, who he says we really are, and why he says he made us and cares for–and come to really understand this—we will hear God’s voice and it will drown out our shame. It will replace our self-limiting beliefs and identity lies with his truth.
Check out this resource that covers everything you need to know about shame, including frequently asked questions.
Or take the Shame Quiz and begin to identify how shame is distorting your identity and worth. Once we know the lies that shame is wanting us to believe, we can more easily crush them with the truth.
Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.
Download a free guided exercise to help you heal from shame
Download a free PDF freebie, “What to Do When You Are Feeling Shame: A Guided Exercise.” It will walk you through some practical exercises to deal with shame. Ending with how to avoid feeling shame in the future. My passion is to see you living shame-free; in glorious freedom. “What to Do When You Are Feeling Shame: A Guided Exercise” can help you step towards that freedom by breaking the lies of shame you believe and replacing those lies with the truth.
From Shame to Grace: How to Erase Shame From our Identities, an 11 part series. — Other posts in this series on shame include:
May link up at Kelly Balarie (#purposeful faith), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Maree Dee (#Grace & Truth), Anita Ojeda (#inspirememonday), InstaEncouagements ((IE Link-Up), and Mary Geison (#tellhisstory).