Shame: What you can do about it. Most of us have problems with shame, to one degree or another.
The first article in this series (“About Shame”)
helped you to learn if you have a big problem with shame.
This second article is for anyone who finds any shame in their life.
YOUR OVERALL GOAL
To overcome shame, you need to learn that it’s OK to be who you are!
To get there, you must have and deeply absorb many separate moments of being accepted, loved, or valued.
I’ll be giving you a lot of practical ideas about how to do this.
ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE CLOSEST TO YOU
Stop relying on anyone who treats you as if you are not OK.
Spend more and more of your time with the people who know you are OK the way you are.
And let them know more and more about you.
Choose your relationships based on how you are treated – not just on whether the other person feels “comfortable.”
[We are “comfortable” with what we are used to – even when it’s bad for us!] <>
Treat people the way you want to be treated. (It’s contagious…)
WHEN PEOPLE TREAT YOU POORLY
Tell them to stop it!
If they keep it up, don’t tell them over and over. This is like “begging.”
It makes you feel weak in their presence. You need to feel strong when you have to be around such people!
Expect people who treat you badly to keep it up and hold them responsible for how they treat you.
Hold yourself responsible for how much time you spend with them, how you respond to their mistreatment,
and whether you take their opinions seriously.
When people imply that you aren’t valuable, they are wrong.
You must learn how to throw away such comments immediately.
(You know how angry you get when you are treated this way. This anger is your guide.
It tells you that this person’s opinion of you is worthless and can be thrown away without question.)
KNOW that only a few people are likely to treat you poorly. The rest of us are ready to treat you well.
(If you catch yourself thinking otherwise, at least remind yourself that I am positive you are wrong!)
The suggestions coming up next are much more important than what you’ve read so far.
WHEN PEOPLE TREAT YOU WELL
Absorb it! Always take at least a few seconds to feel the good feelings you get when you are treated well.
Let your appreciation show. (Your natural smile will do just fine!)
Showing your appreciation reinforces the other person and encourages them to stay around you longer.
Don’t talk yourself out of it!
Most compliments are honest. Even when someone is trying to manipulate you they say things they mean!
You can turn down the manipulation but accept the compliment! For example:
“Thanks for noticing how attractive I am, but I still don’t want to give you my phone number.”
“Thanks for noticing I have good taste in cars, but I still won’t pay what you are asking for this one.”
WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT LATER
The most important factor in overcoming shame is: How you treat yourself when you get home!
When you’ve been treated poorly how do you treat yourself afterwards?
Do you focus on yourself and wonder if they were right? “Maybe they are right and I am a jerk!” “Maybe I am stupid!”
Or do you focus on your anger at the mistreatment instead? “What a jerk he was!” “What’s wrong with someone like that?” “Who asked for her opinion?”
When you’ve been treated well how do you treat yourself afterwards? Do you relax and think about the good things? Do you mentally recycle the best parts?
Do you notice how much you agree about your good qualities? Do you take the time to enjoy feeling good?
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
“What about all the horrible mistakes I made in my life?”
“You needed to make them, to learn. Now that you know they were mistakes, you have learned!”
“What about all the people I’ve hurt?”
“And what about all the people they’ve hurt? Hurting each other is awful, but it’s part of life.”
“Won’t I keep screwing up if I don’t feel ashamed?”
“It never stopped you in the past! Shame doesn’t control you. You control you.”
“This is all B.S.! I’m bad, and I know it, and I need to feel this way.”
“Your pain is only a warning. You’ve got your warning. Feeling more of it won’t help anything.”
“We all need to suffer or else terrible things will happen in this world!”
“If you ever meet the mean people who taught you that, tell them I said they were full of it!”