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Shame and Self Care


Let's acknowledge one of the major barriers to self-care. It's not $$ or TIME, it's something much deeper: SHAME.


Self-care relates to shame in two ways:

1. We feel guilty for engaging in self-care—usually because of an underlying belief that we don’t deserve it

2. We feel guilty for not engaging in self-care because we know that it’s a good for us and we feel we should be doing it.


So what do we do about it?


1. Go Deep: Shame arises out of beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. When we get to the root of the beliefs behind our shame, we can start to question them using our logic and reason. Once we start questioning them, we might realize that we don’t actually agree with them and, from there, we can deconstruct them.


An important part of examining beliefs is taking time to do some archaeology and work out where certain beliefs come from. When we start to question why we have certain beliefs about the world, we often find that our beliefs are internalized messages from childhood figures like parents, teachers, friends, and other important people. Once we recognize that, we’re better able to separate out internalized beliefs that actually belong to other people from our own true beliefs and values.


2. Choose your Words: Notice when you’re using judgmental and shaming language about other people, or when you have particularly strong feelings about other people’s behavior when it doesn’t really affect you. Also notice the difference between your own feelings of guilt and shame. Make it a conscious process to turn the latter into the former: instead of labeling yourself or someone else (“I am bad,” “They are bad”), focus on the actions (“I did a bad thing,” “They did a bad thing”).


3. Soften your Front: Once we start shifting from judgment to a more aware and compassionate view of ourselves and others, we’re in a better position to believe “I am understandable, I am relatable, I am acceptable.” When we start to internalize these three beliefs, shame fades and self-care follows.



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