“Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame.”
Uncle Iroh, “Avatar: The Last Airbender”
Shame is a common emotion that I’m sure all of us have felt before. Sometimes, it feels as if no one is dealing with the same type of shame you are. It can be an isolating and lonely experience, and sometimes it can seem easier to ignore shame and push it out of mind. Carrying shame deep down can affect you in many harmful ways and often holds you back from your true potential. Yet, more often than not, we end up carrying shame that isn’t ours to carry. Curious to know whether the shame you might be carrying isn’t truly something to be ashamed of? Perhaps you could use some positive affirmation because, after all, it can be a healing experience to hear that you don’t need to feel ashamed after all. Keep on reading to find out the 9 types of shame you can begin to let go of now.
1. Shame that comes from a “failure” of yours
In the workplace, school, and many other environments, there is a lot of pressure put upon you to achieve your goals. It can make it feel like the end result is all that matters, and if you don’t achieve the goal, you’ve failed. This perceived failure can make you feel ashamed and hurt, but the end goal isn’t the only thing that matters. Just because you might not have reached that goal of getting a 100 on a test or a big promotion doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Whatever the reason, whether it’s an honest mistake or another reason, you still worked hard, tried your best, and made good progress. After all, the experience you gained is just as, if not more, important than the end goal itself. So, you don’t need to feel ashamed simply because you might not have reached your goal, you’re not a failure.
2. Shame that is due to a rejection
Whether it be a romantic or workplace rejection, being rejected is almost always a hard experience. It can make you feel as if you are unworthy or undeserving of someone or thing. You might find yourself asking, “what did I do wrong” or, “was I not good enough?” This can be hard to accept, but being rejected isn’t your fault in a lot of ways. There are other uncontrollable factors such as someone else’s feelings or other applicants. When it comes down to it, being rejected isn’t something to be ashamed of, you tried your best, and you can’t help what someone else may think about you. Putting yourself out there takes a lot of courage and is an accomplishment in and of itself, so be proud of that!
3. Shame for not living up to other’s standards
From family and friends to media and society, there are so many standards out there. They can make you feel pressured into having to live up to everyone’s ideals and expectations that you might not even want for yourself. You shouldn’t feel ashamed to stick up for what you want for yourself, whether it goes against a family member or other influence’s standards. There is no shame in living life the way you want to because, after all, your life is yours and yours alone.
4. Shame due to something out of your control including a conditioned response from early life
When bad situations happen, you might end up asking yourself, “could I have done more?” or, “what if I did something differently?” However, some aspects of life are simply uncontrollable and unpredictable. Situations such as parents splitting up, a loss of a loved one, or an accident are no one’s fault. This also includes any childhood trauma you may have experienced. You can’t change how other people, including your parents, treat you, and their actions and behaviors aren’t your fault. It can be easy to try to blame yourself for a tragic event, but they are ultimately out of anyone’s control. You don’t need to feel ashamed of yourself for something that you had no part in causing.
5. Shame due to stigma or prejudice
We live in a world that stigmatizes a lot of things. From certain groups of people to certain beliefs, there are so many things society has stigmatized for no valid reasons. One huge thing society has a prejudice against is mental health issues. Nowadays, you might feel like having a mental health issue is disgraceful or a sign that you’re broken, but that is not the case at all. Having depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue is okay. Many people have them and are coping with them every day of their lives, so you aren’t alone. You don’t need to hide the fact you have one, nor do you have to feel embarrassed or ashamed.
6. Shame about how you feel
Emotions are a part of us that often times we have no control over. You can’t control whether you feel sad or if something makes you angry, but you can control your response to your emotions. There’s no, “you should or shouldn’t feel this or that,” because every single emotion you have is valid.
7. Shame about taking care of and putting yourself first
We live in a society that puts a lot of emphasis on being productive and hardworking, which can be a good thing some of the time. However, it also creates an environment where taking a break doesn’t feel like an option. This mindset can have very dangerous effects, such as overworking yourself and concealing mental health issues. You should never feel ashamed of needing a break for your mental health. This includes taking a break from work, school, or a particularly stressful hobby or activity. Taking care of yourself is healthy, important, and normal, and it’s not something that you need to feel embarrassed doing, and it doesn’t make you weak, incompetent, or lazy.
8. Shame for saying no or setting a boundary
Getting out of your comfort zone can lead to some good things, and you might discover a new passion, some new friends, or another side of yourself you never knew existed. However, some people push you too far or too fast, which can be scary because you don’t want to disappoint anyone or seem closed-minded. There’s a lot of pressure to try new things and open up to new people, but ultimately, your comfort is just as, if not more, important. If you’re not comfortable with someone or doing something, there is no reason to be ashamed to say so. Your comfort levels and you, as a whole, deserve to be respected by everyone.
9. Shame for needing help
There aren’t many people who are completely comfortable with getting help from others. Most of us would prefer to handle things ourselves for a vast range of reasons ranging from privacy to fear of becoming a burden. However, no one can do everything alone, and it’s not healthy to try to do everything yourself. Needing help is a good thing, it’s a part of accepting that you, like everyone else on Earth, aren’t perfect, and that’s okay.
Ultimately, all we can do is try our best in life. There is no shame in truly accepting your own flaws and shortcomings because, like Uncle Iroh, The Great Dragon of The West, said, “true humility is the only antidote to shame.”
Perhaps now you can begin to let go of some shame you might not have even known you were carrying until now. Do you carry any of the types of shame we mentioned? Do you still? Please comment below and share your experience! Hopefully, you heard something you needed to in this article.