How often have you done something and thought “How could I have done that?? I am so ______”, fill in the blank with any number of self-defeating statements. Why do we do this to ourselves? Most people I have met beat themselves up so much that the guilt they instill becomes shaming. Guilt and shame are terms that are used so interchangeably, it becomes difficult to tell the difference. Guilt refers to something “bad” we have done and shame refers to who we are, as in, “I am bad”. Personally, I don’t find either of them particularly helpful for my mental state. I have spend a lot of time in my life feeling guilty about one thing or another that I began to see myself as unworthy of happiness. It becomes difficult to separate our actions from our worth as a person. We internalize the negative feelings we have about our actions and begin to feel unworthy.
On top of that, we spend a tremendous amount of time telling ourselves things like “If only I were pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough, thin enough…” that we never feel like we are enough in any way. We are imprisoned by this sense of inadequacy. We are held back from our goals and we become stuck in our self-defeating patterns because we don’t think we are good enough to have something different. We wear our shame like armor and protect ourselves from living our lives. Instead of continuing this pattern, try something new.
- Identify thoughts that contribute to shame
- Explore the origin of your shame
- Take every opportunity to challenge negative self-talk
- Surround yourself with people who lift your spirits
- Pursue your dreams
- Feel the fear and do it anyway
- Recognize that no matter what, you will always be enough!
If you don’t know your own worth and value, don’t expect anyone to calculate it for you. Until you feel worthy, you will probably stay stuck in a cycle of self-sabotage. Many people unconsciously sabotage themselves as soon as they get close to their goals. This happens with weight loss, relationships, job opportunities, etc. So, learn to recognize that you are worthy of the life you want and the happiness you crave.