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8 Ways to Get Rid of Shame

Updated: Jan 13

Shame is a common emotion we have all felt in our lives at one point or another. Especially when we feel like we have not lived up to our morals, our potential, our or the expectations of others. It is a feeling that makes us feel helpless, embarrassed, vulnerable and worthless. This is due to the fact that the main culprits which cause shame are: Childhood trauma, neglect, abuse, rejection, bullying, and unrealistic expectations.

These often affect our thoughts, emotions, behaviour and decision making. This means that shame can ultimately influence what our life looks like, how our relationships turn out, and how we feel about ourselves.

Things like comparison, self-criticism, keeping secrets, procrastination and suppression can exacerbate feelings of shame. This is because

  • with comparison, we are looking at how much better or different our lives should be as opposed to how good they are. Making ourselves feel inferior.

  • with self-criticism, we are being overly hard on ourselves and not letting go of things and constantly punishing ourselves, not giving ourselves a chance to live freely and happily. Constantly putting ourselves down.

  • with keeping secrets, again here, we are not allowing ourselves to live freely and happily. We are constantly living in fear of when the other shoe will drop because we wonder if we are truly worthy, which also keeps us from forming any real connections or fully committing to anything.

  •  with procrastination, we plan things that are so far out of our reach and are so unrealistic and ultimately set ourselves up for failure. We self-sabotage and then become disappointed with ourselves, which then confirms the negative thoughts we keep telling ourselves about how lesser than we really are. Which is untrue, but we have made it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • with suppression, we are burying our thoughts and feelings. This leads to a bubbling up and blow up later on when our minds, hearts, and bodies cannot stand it any longer. It comes out as anger outbursts, jealousy, and self-sabotage. I mention our bodies because it does end up showing up in our bodies as illness or unexplained symptoms. We just find ourselves being ill all the time and the cause is not clear.

This can all lead to:

  • Low self-esteem - with shame involved, there is no way this would not be part of the deal. The negative self-image, self-talk and disappointment naturally lead to feeling badly about yourself and having feelings of worthlessness.

  • Narcissism – because we want to hide our shame we act like we are the opposite and behave in ways that make us seem confident instead of insecure.

  • Projection (causing others to feel shame) – we’ve heard that “hurt people hurt people” and so to feel better about yourself you may try to make others feel the way you feel by accusing them of trying to make you feel shame when you try to do that to them.

  • Perfectionism - to try and avoid feeling more shame we try to be perfect. We set impossible standards for ourselves and make ourselves feel even less good enough and causing more shame.

  • People-pleasing - we tie achievements as well as the approval and validation of others to our value, and we back ourselves into a corner that ensures that we take on too much and cross our own boundaries, that is if we even have any to begin with, in order to feel worthy. If we disappoint others we again, feel shame.

  • Mental and physical exhaustion – overexerting yourself to meet the impossible standards and keeping up with whatever new commitment you have tied yourself to to please others can very much lead to exhaustion. People get admitted into hospital for this. It is quite serious.

  • Depression – the feelings of sadness from the way we feel about ourselves and the way we speak to ourselves ultimately lead to depression and other mental health issues.

  • Withdrawing socially - to avoid embarrassing ourselves by what we say or do, we choose to just avoid people altogether. We stop making connections, putting ourselves out there, trying new things, enjoying ourselves and being vulnerable in any way.  

  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviours – this is linked to perfectionism. Due to feeling lesser than, you may feel the need to overwork, over-exercise, go on a strict diet, all in an attempt to prove yourself .

  • Feeling like something is wrong with you - the negative voice in your head will have you believing something is wrong with you. Do not believe it. It is wrong. Challenge it.

  • Addiction - as a way to escape the troubling thoughts and feelings of shame, you may find yourself self-medicating and abusing all sort of substances.


So how do you get one over on the shame you feel and start living a shame-free life?

1.       Talk to Yourself Like a Friend – be compassionate and kind to yourself, especially at times when you need it the most. Don’t make yourself feel worse than you are already feeling by being harsh and cold.

2.       Get Grounded – get in touch with your feelings, your wants, and your morals. The more you align with them and live authentically, the less shame you will feel.

3.       Get Support from Someone You Trust – speak to someone you trust about  your feelings and where they come from, you will feel less like you are hiding.

4.       Recognize your triggers – take note of when you feel these feelings of shame. What are you doing? What are you actually feeling? (Name the feelings).

5.       Seek professional help – get help from a professional. Get helpful tools to actually change the way you see yourself and how you live your life.

6.       Make healthy connections – having a good support network and surrounding yourself with people you can trust, have fun with, who are also supportive makes a significant difference.

7.       Practice mindfulness – practicing mindfulness and staying present can help with letting go of the past, as well as forgiving yourself for mistakes, and staying in touch with your thoughts and feelings.

8.       Get comfortable disappointing others – you cannot please everyone. Get comfortable with that and understand that that is okay. There is no way that you can please everyone, at least if you are going to stay sane, happy, healthy, and free.

Start putting these into action and start living a life where you are free, where you are happy, and where you are not hiding.

Coach Nomie, Take Control x



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