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Shame & Worthiness – 4 Tips to Overcome Shame

Shame & worthiness - 4 tips to overcome shame
Shame & worthiness – 4 tips to overcome shame

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the 4 steps to overcoming shame in order to awaken to believe and realize that you are worthy.

First a quick update:

How to enjoy the Holidays – The Holidays have become stressful as we have placed so many expectations around the Holidays; expectations about ourselves, others and the special day or events. Read my article which reveals tips and strategies to enjoy the Holidays.

Killing animals to enhance spiritual powers? – The man who claims to be able to cure cancer and AIDS sacrificed more than 500 goats in India. Mahendra Trivedi claims to be a man with Divine powers – a spiritual guru from India, now based in the US, who also claims he can cure cancer. But in 2003, Mahendra Trivedi was sacrificing goats – 561 of them – and he was doing it on an annual basis for at least 8 years. Why? He claims it enhances his spiritual powers. The killing of animals enhances human spiritual powers? Yet another example of gurus, cults and brainwashing. 

Now, let’s talk about the 4 steps to overcoming shame and to awaken to believe and realize that you are worthy.

What is it that determines our worthiness and our value?

Is it society, our parents & upbringing, our behavior, or ourselves (our self-image and self-perception)?

It is the combination of all of the above.

Society judges each and every one of us based on its ever-changing values and standards; our parents judge us based on who they are and what they experienced; we judge ourselves based on our behavior (also determined by society and our upbringing), and; we form subconscious images and create perceptions of ourselves (whom and what we are regardless of specific behavior & achievements) based on all of the above along with other subconscious drives including temperament and character.

The result is that we make judgments (conclusions and determinations) about our value and our self-worth – what we deserve in all areas of life.

Recently, I was presenting to the National Guild of Hypnotists’ annual convention and the audience was shocked when I revealed that there is only one issue that is common to every client of every therapist (excluding sociopaths): the feeling and belief that one is not good enough i.e. everyone subconsciously believes that they are not worthy; that there is something innately wrong with them, they are an impostor or that something is lacking or missing in them.

It is for this reason that advertising succeeds so greatly – it appeals to and reinforces our subconscious belief that we are not good enough (there is something wrong with us), and therefore we must buy this product or service to compensate for it.

Read these articles:

“Brainwashing & advertising – there is something wrong with you” 

“Who is brainwashing and controlling you?” 

“Our obsession with youth and physical perfection” 

One client, aged 23, recently came to me because she had been struggling with an eating disorder since she was about 10 years of age when she was first bullied and criticized by her peers as her body was changing. She has been doing exceedingly well on her own, getting to the level of being able to control it, but not yet able to release the underlying emotions of not feeling good enough – thinking and feeling that there is something wrong with her.

One of the first suggestions I gave her is to stop subjecting herself to all advertising which creates the expectation of unattainable perfection along with its primary message of “you’re not good enough.”

This belief that one is innately not good enough is described and summed up as shame by Dr. Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.

Dr. Brown has spent more than ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She distinguishes shame and guilt:

“The thing to understand about shame is it’s not guilt. Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is ‘I am bad.’ Guilt is ‘I did something bad.’”

Are the two emotions of guilt and shame mutually exclusive?

The dictionary defines shame as:

A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.

Another dictionary definition:

A painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace.

  1. Capacity for such a feeling: Have you no shame?
  2. One that brings dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation.
  3. A condition of disgrace or dishonor; ignominy.
  4. A great disappointment.

Thus, it is not entirely accurate to separate the two emotions – guilt can lead to shame and shame can include feelings of guilt based on behavior.

Nonetheless, the assertions by Dr. Brown that shame is an epidemic in society, and that shame is destructive, are true if we accept that the shame to which Dr. Brown refers is actually the underlying emotion and belief that one is innately not good enough – innately unworthy and thus, innately not lovable.

Accordingly, there are two origins and types of shame:

Something that we have done (or failed to do) that leads to feelings of guilt and shame
The subconscious belief that we are bad and not good enough based on the way our parents treated us – abuse, neglect, abandonment, withholding of love, judgments, expectations of perfection, and so forth.

The first type of shame & guilt relates specifically to our behavior and choices – something over which we have control; the second type of shame & guilt relates to the way we were programmed and judged which led us to make conclusions about our level of deservedness.

The 4-step solution to overcoming shame is:

  1. Identify the origins of the shame – is it something you did or, is it something that was done to you?
  2. If the origin is something you did i.e. a poor choice, mistake or behavior, then decide to make appropriate amends and forgive yourself
  3. If the origin is something that was done to you i.e. parents, caretakers, peers, religion and so forth, then decide to get professional help to release the subconscious beliefs and conclusions you made based on the way you were treated as a child
  4. Be willing to openly share your experience and emotions; be willing to let go of the harsh judgments of yourself and others

Interestingly and paradoxically, the shame and guilt that you feel regardless of its origin will require empathy, compassion and forgiveness.

You will first need to express to yourself empathy, compassion and forgiveness; then you will need to express empathy, compassion and forgiveness to those people who instigated the shame and guilt within you – parents, siblings, teachers, strangers and so forth.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.

“Empathy is the antidote to shame. If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive. The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.” – Dr. Brene Brown

Compassion is the ability to feel someone else’s pain and distress along with the desire to alleviate that pain.

Forgiveness is giving understanding for what happened and releasing all of the painful emotions and judgments towards that person along with the acceptance that we are imperfect humans and we will all make mistakes.

When you finally forgive yourself and others, and when you finally awaken and accept that we are all imperfect, you will then awaken to accept that you are good enough, you are worthy, and you deserve to love and be loved.

Learn more about how to let go of guilt and shame here.

And if you need help to set yourself free from shame, consider a one-on-one private session with me. Watch the video here.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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