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Three Powerful Steps to Releasing Shame

Shame is an extremely painful emotion. It's the experience of believing you are flawed and not worthy of love and belonging. It's not feeling bad because you think you've done something you believe to be wrong. It's feeling you are bad because you've done, failed to do, or experienced something you believe to be wrong and makes you unworthy of love and connection.

Shame can easily and exponentially grow, if left to it's own devices - never fear I have a solution to help! You can release your shame by following the three very powerful (and simple) steps in this blog article. I know it's hard (I've been there and I can help). You are not alone in how you're feeling. You can feel better. It is possible for you.

Several years ago, I would closet eat. When no one was watching I would stash food in my work drawer or in an out-of-sight closet at home, shamefully anticipating eating it later. When I was alone, I would gorge myself on this (always unhealthy) food, crying or chastising myself as I did it. I couldn't control it and I felt so ashamed. I tried sharing my problem with my spouse at the time, but was met with contempt. I had not carefully chosen a person I could trust.

I went into a spiral and hit my heaviest of nearly 250 pounds. My joints ached and a specialist diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis (which, by the way, is a refined-sugar-induced health issue). It was clear I needed change and I needed help. After a while, I met and became close friends with an amazing woman in my computer science program. Sharing my shameful problem with her felt natural, I knew she wouldn't reject me. She was compassionate, kind, and gave me a hug - to her it was not a big deal, it wasn't who I was, just something I did. It was so empowering and the shame I felt about my closet eating released. Over time, as I become stronger and shared my story more, the shame around eating almost completely went away.

To this day, I'll occasionally catch myself hiding a handful of food and walking somewhere to eat it. In that moment I stop, turn around, and eat my food in full view of whoever is closest. I am no longer ashamed to eat in front of people. Not only that, but it became easier for me to release the stored fat on my body, eventually shedding nearly 100 pounds.

You can do this too! The three powerful steps in this article will help you succeed!

Step 1 - Watch how you talk to yourself - use kind words.

Do you call yourself mean names? - "I'm so stupid, why did I do that?" "I'm such an idiot!" "I'm a hot mess!" "I'm so fat, who would ever want me?" Would you talk to someone you love and care about like that? Speak kindly to yourself. As I have said over and over (and will keep saying until the whole world understands), it always comes back to the words we use. Choose your words carefully and kindly.

Step 2 - Reach out and confide in someone you trust.

Talking to someone about what it is you're ashamed of is a vulnerable thing to do. It's also extremely empowering and connecting. Make sure you trust this person and know they will meet your words with empathy and compassion.

Step 3 - Share your story (as many times as it takes).

Shame cannot survive when you speak your truth and tell your story. The more you share your story, the more shame releases its grip on you about the situation. Be careful as you're sharing your story that you only share with people who can respond with compassion and empathy at first. Sharing your story should help you and others feel empowered. If it doesn't, you may be sharing from the perspective of a victim. Try to shift your perspective so you can share your story in a way that helps you and others feel better.

According to Dr. Brené Brown, in order to survive and grow exponentially, shame needs three things:

  1. Secrecy

  2. Silence

  3. Judgement

Amazingly, shame only needs one thing to be eradicated - empathy. When you share your story with someone you trust, who you know will respond with empathy and compassion, you are releasing shame - poof! Gone! Add changing the way you talk to yourself, by only using kind, caring words, and you reduce the relapses into your shame patterns.

Journaling Activity

  1. Open your journal or use a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle.

  2. On the left side of your journal, notebook, or sheet of paper, write about the shame is you're feeling and why.

  3. On the right side, write out the truth. For example, pretend you wrote you're ashamed of having a secret eating disorder and you are a loser, or you're ugly, or no one would love you with this issue. Change that by writing something like, "I know others will love and accept me as I am." on the right side of the page/paper. This is the truth.

  4. Write the name of someone you trust who you will share your story with, and a date you will share it by.

  5. Write how you will feel after you share your story with that person. You can write things like, "I will feel free and happy."

Oprah said, "You're as sick as your secrets." You can live a better life and feeling good just feels so good!

Sending love!

Faith Joy (The Fear Engineer)

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