I have been doing a great deal of thinking about shame and the power it has on influencing our thoughts and how it can sabotage us, when we are trying to make changes. I once heard shame described as “one of the most corrosive human emotions.” When shame gets in our head our self-talk turns to, “I am a failure,” “I am flawed,” “I am unlovable,” and “what were you thinking?” Shame is a powerful feeling but it is also a common one that we have all experienced one time or another. Maybe you are experiencing this feeling now because of unsuccessful quit attempts. Whatever the reason, it is important to find ways to manage the shame so that is doesn’t lead you down the path of self-destruction and sabotage your quit.
Here are a few tips to try:
- Talk about it – Acknowledge it and talk about it with those trusted people that you have in your life, because the more you talk about shame, the less power it has in your life. The empathy from others will help you keep your self-talk in perspective and assist you in coming up with coping strategies to manage it. By acknowledging shame, you refuse to let it define who you are as a person. Author Dr. Brenae Brown writes, “When we bury the story, we forever stay the subject of the story. If we own the story, we get to narrate the ending.”
- Name your feeling – Are you really feeling shame or is it something else? Often times when we stop and reflect on our emotions, we discover that we are feeling something totally different, such as guilt or embarrassment. Neither of these feelings are comfortable but they are not targeting your self-worth.
- Disconnect what you do from who you are as a person – If your quit attempt does not go the way you had hoped, it does not mean you are a bad person, it just means you need a new plan. Forgive yourself and try again.
- Seek Support – Shame at its core is a fear of disconnection. By reaching out to family, friends, and communities (EX Community is a great place), we make connections that allow us to accept ourselves and others.