If you have shame, you have shame voices. Shame is the deep belief that we are bad, stupid, worthless, etc. The shaming voices are the messages that play in our head, a constant running commentary that reinforces that we are flawed and defective at our core.
To turn shame around, we must come to believe that we are good. Sound like a monumental task? Well, it is, but it can be done! In order to deal with our shame, we simply HAVE to get to those shame voices and make them stop. No amount of praise or success will override the shame voices well enough. We must stop it at the source.
Shaming voices . . .
- Criticize You
- Question Every Decision
- Pick You Apart
- Mock Everything You Say
- Bully You and Tell You You’re Not Good Enough
- Put the Spotlight On Every Flaw/Fault/Mistake/Weakness
- Argues That People Can’t Love You
- Rejects Every Compliment
- Requires You To Constantly Apologize Because You Are ALWAYS Doing Something Wrong
The voices not only attack us unceasingly, but we also project them out onto others and have them shaming us as well (“They’re probably laughing at me.”, “She doesn’t like me.”, “He probably thinks I’m weird.”). If left, unchecked, these voices will erode every ounce of self-esteem you have! They are holding you back, yanking you down, blocking you from being the amazing person you were meant to be!
Your first step in ridding yourself of these parasitic voices is to become aware of them. Write them down. For one whole week, write down every negative, nasty, crappy thought you have about yourself. After a week, go back and look at the list. Isn’t it awful?!?! I remember doing this and thinking, “I wouldn’t say these things to my worst enemy!” And yet, I was saying them to myself . . . Every. Single. Day. Yikes!
The second step is to stop the voices. This is hard to do if you aren’t aware of them, so be sure to fully do Step 1. If you have to yell at yourself in your head to stop it, then do so. It may take something drastic to stop this constant, negative flow of self-criticism. I have even put in the earphones and turned the music way up to tune the voices out. One time I had to yell at myself in the shower because my little inner-bully decided to start chipping away at me. It worked, but only in combination with Step 3 below.
replace the soul destroying voices with kind, accepting, normalizing voices. This means, you have to start being a friend to yourself. If your friend came to you with a problem, you probably wouldn’t start tearing them down for it. On the contrary, you would tell them it is okay and remind them of all the good things about them. “It’s okay.” and “So what?” are two of my favorites.
These steps absolutely work to cure shame, but it will not happen overnight. When these voices have been coursing through you unrestrained and steadily eating away at your self-esteem for decades, you can’t turn it around quickly. It will take steady, determined focus over time to repair the damage, but it absolutely can be done.
Stop giving the shame voices airtime in your soul! Start ridding yourself of them today. Freeing yourself of these constant internal attacks is one of the best gifts you will ever give yourself!!
Learn more with Mark Smith’s book Healing Toxic Shame Through Recovery on the Family Tree Counseling website at www.familytreecounseling.com