When you’re living with shame, it can be easy to let it dominate your thoughts. You may find yourself thinking unkind thoughts about yourself or others. When things go wrong, you might say, “Of course this happened. I don’t deserve good things.” Or “Why would anyone like me? I’m a pathetic wannabe!”
If thoughts like these continually play in your mind, you don’t have to despair. There are three things you should know about your thoughts…
Your Thoughts Aren’t Always True
Some people make the mistake of believing every thought they have. If they think “I’m fat” then they accept that the thought is automatically correct. But consider this: for centuries, most people believed the earth was flat. It was an untrue thought that had been passed around for generations.
You may have thought patterns that were passed from generation to generation, too. Maybe you think thoughts like, “I’m destined to be a loser. Everyone in my family is.” Or “Good things don’t happen to people like us.”
Spend the next week observing your thoughts. You don’t have to call them out as right or wrong. Just listen to them and pay attention to the ones that bring you shame or make you feel poorly about yourself.
You Can Change Your Thoughts
Changing your thoughts isn’t easy and it usually takes a long time before you feel like you’re making any progress. But think of it like learning a new language—the language of self-compassion.
Think of how you’d approach learning a new language. You’d give yourself weeks to learn and study. You’d buy books on the topic, talk about it with friends, and reach out to those more experienced in the language for help.
You Can Learn to Love Yourself
Of all the subjects you were taught in school or college, you probably never had a single class on how to love yourself. But it’s one of the most important things you can do in your life.
When you’re living in deep shame, your perception of yourself gets messed up. You may believe that you’re worthless, damaged, or ugly. But the truth is you are a beautiful masterpiece, woven together by the universe.
One simple way to begin practicing self-love is to repeat positive affirmations. Say them over to yourself again and again. The more you speak them, the more you’ll begin to believe them. Here are a few you may want to start with…
- I am worthy of love and healing.
- I release my past. It has no power over me.
- I let go of the anger and hurt I’ve been carrying.
- I choose to practice self-compassion.
- I accept myself fully and completely.
Embrace loving thoughts toward yourself. Take it one day at a time and don’t be upset if it doesn’t feel natural at first. As time goes on, you’ll find it easier to shift your thoughts away from shame and toward self-compassion.
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