Definition of Shame: a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior
I list the definition of shame at the top of this page as a reminder of what it is and what it isn't. Shame is never pleasant to experience, but it's meant to act as a consequence to modify unacceptable behavior. Shame is not meant to be a part of our identity. But in so many cases it is. Growing up in a home where shame was regularly used to try to control or change our behavior, it can be natural to think that there is something inherently bad or wrong with us. And we are likely to form a negative core belief if our caregivers used shame tactics to try to control or modify our behavior to their liking, or because they were preoccupied or stressed out themselves and were unable to show us the love and nurturing we needed. Shame identity is an important core belief to identify and speak to, because it can manifest as a block to healing our trauma. Consciously we want to do better for ourselves, but subconsciously our belief that "I am a bad person" or "I don't deserve happiness" is calling the shots. This can show up in our day to day lives if we find we are self-sabotaging new and positive opportunities in our lives over and over. Thankfully, when we become aware of the shame identity belief, we can start seeing its message play out in our day to day lives. Shame doesn't want to be found, it likes to operate undetected below the surface. Here is an exercise to help change the core belief of shame. The opposite of shame is pride. I would like you to list things that you are proud of in your life, things that you have discovered about yourself, things that you have worked towards and accomplished. This helps us shift towards a more intentional mindset. And when we are intentional about our lives and our decisions, we can start breaking away from relying on those old negative and false beliefs and find relief from shame identity.