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Shame: Identify It, Heal It, and Leave It Behind

You don’t have to feel this way forever.

Everyone has experienced shame at some point in their life. But not everyone is aware that the emotion is there until it creeps up to the surface in the form of panic, anxiety, depression, or other negative feelings and behaviors.

Shame can be the hidden flaw you don’t notice until it’s too late.

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In that moment, you ask yourself: How long has this thing been here? You wonder if anyone saw it — or worse — did people judged you for it? You quickly retrace your steps wondering where and how it happened, all the while wishing you could have prevented the problem in the first place.

Like a stain on your shirt, shame can go unnoticed. And like a stain, how you respond to shame can make or break your chance to save the day. Do you beat yourself up over it, shrug your shoulders, or laugh and love yourself the same?

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For some people, self-love is complicated, and even the tiniest mistake can trigger feelings of low self-esteem.

But what if you have carried shame with you your entire life? Can low self-esteem sabotage success, in the fear of being an imposter, poisoned by the shame of feeling like you’ll never be good enough?

Knowing it’s there, and feeling like you can’t get rid of it, may make you feel hopeless. What do you do then?

We asked YourTango experts to help us identify shame and how to remove even the deepest roots shame manifests in a person’s life. Here are three pieces of advice that they offered on how to deal with shame by identifying it, healing it, and moving on to find true happiness:

1. Learn to Trust Your Feelings

“When you think that you shouldn’t do or say something, especially when it’s not hurtful to you or others, you can ask yourself ‘where did I learn to think like this?’

You may be repeating expectations from society or your past. You can sieve the particles and let go of those that obstruct you from being who you are and want to be.”

Sarah Bilodeau is a Dramatherapist.

2. Let Go of the Past

“Shame is a form of self-condemnation and un-forgiveness of yourself. Let’s get it right! The first way to identify, heal, and banish your shame, is to get over people! In a world that condemns, punishes, and yes, promotes shame, this can be hard to do. Think about it: get stop letting others determine your value and worth.

You are human. Everyone has something that they may be ashamed of. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. These are the first things you must do to identify and banish shame.

Secondly, forgive yourself and others who may have been the cause of the shame you are experiencing. You will never rid yourself of the guilt you feel until you learn how to forgive and be forgiven. You are worthy of being loved. Love is unconditional. Love takes no account of a suffered wrong.

If you are struggling with shame, reach out to a trusted and wise counselor. Being able to talk about your situation with someone can help you work through identification of the root cause of the shame so that you can move towards healing.”

Cheryl Magee is an author, speaker, and Certified Gallup Coach as she leads her company Synergy@Work, LLC. 

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3. Know What to Look for, So You Can Identify Shame When It Comes Up

“Some of the symptoms shame causes:

  • Lack of confidence
  • Inability to have orgasms
  • Fear of embarrassment / failure / rejection
  • Feeling unloved / unsupported / alone

The unconscious mind links all events where shame was felt together. Healing comes when the first event of shame is found, completely examined, and turned.

Step 1: Learn everything there is to learn to release all negative emotions connected to that first event.

Step 2: Write down the beliefs that you would like to replace shame with. Step 3: Create a symbol/picture that represents everything learned in Step 1 as well as the positive replacement statements written in Step 2.

To banish feelings of shame, look at each event you’ve experienced shame THROUGH the symbol/picture created in Step 3.”

– Elsa Cronje is a Master NLP Practitioner and Transformation Coach at Take a Leap Coaching. Let her help YOU find your wings and teach you how to fly!

This guest article originally appeared on How To Identify, Heal & Banish Your Deepest Shame.

Shame: Identify It, Heal It, and Leave It Behind

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APA Reference
Guest Author, P. (2018). Shame: Identify It, Heal It, and Leave It Behind. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 30 Jul 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.