How to Reduce Shame with Self-Compassion
We have no respect.
We have no respect for our history, our hurts, our fears, our worries, our weaknesses... we have no respect for our mind, body, and soul. Many were raised to believe there was no room for error. Mistakes were not an option. So, we turned on ourselves.
Have you noticed that most people are at odds with themselves? We second guess if someone likes us, if we're actually qualified for a role, if we're attractive enough, if we're even normal.
A pattern we see at Point of Convergence Therapy is people come in feeling at odds with themselves only to realize they were shamed for being emotional, sensitive, loud, curious, or bold as children. They didn't fit in with the rules: "Respect your authority. Listen and obey. Do as your told." Their natural instinct to explore their inner and outer world was disrupted. They were made (often unintentionally) to feel difficult, burdensome, and too much.
Again, childhood shame is usually covert and unintentional. Parents don't always know how to process their emotions let alone the emotions of one or more highly unpredictable child. It's no one's fault until the responsibility to heal is ignored.
The sad reality is this pattern of being shamed often becomes our internal dialogue. We were not treated with unconditional compassion thus, we did not learn to treat ourselves with unconditional compassion.
So, how do we be compassionate towards ourselves when we've done the exact opposite for decades?
Practice engaging in attitudes and acts of unconditional kindness and acceptance towards yourself. Experiment with a nonjudgmental curiosity towards your thoughts and emotions. Doing this helps us feel less shame in the moment, experience fewer distressing emotions, decrease our tendency to shame ourselves in the future, and lessen depressive symptoms.
If you're in Texas and would like more help with reducing shame in your life, learn more about how our therapists can help here --> Meet the Team
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Johnson, E. A., & O'brien, K. A. (2013). Self-Compassion Soothes the Savage Ego-Threat System: Effects on Negative Affect, Shame, Rumination, and Depressive Symptoms. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 32(9), 939-963.