Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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How to Feel Less Shame

Another [community profile] snowflake_challenge wish was for ways to reduce feeling shame over liking things.

Shame is an unpleasant feeling stemming from various factors. It has positive aspects in discouraging misbehavior. However, it can become toxic. Learn to distinguish between them.

In dealing with shame, you must first understand ethics and morality, because shame is about transgression. It's a feeling you get when you do something that you think is bad. Therefore, begin by forming your code of ethics, learn how to make ethical decisions, and then act ethically.

This discussion of sexuality includes a flow chart regarding shame and exploration of its details. It examines the sources of shame, and suggests that things which are pleasurable and not harmful are nothing to be ashamed of. The topic of morality is old and complex, but some stances -- such as the Wiccan Rede 'If it harm none, do as you will' -- hold that things which do no harm are acceptable. (That rule gives no advice on the topic of things which do cause harm, whether or when those might be justified. It merely says that all harmless activities are ethical.) In any case, if you have not violated your ethics, you should not feel ashamed of yourself. Here are some worksheets for understanding and coping with shame.

Sometimes you will feel ashamed. You are not your feelings, and you do not have to be at their mercy. All feelings are valid, but sometimes feelings will lie to you. So when you feel ashamed, ask yourself what you're ashamed of and why. Specifically, what harm comes from you doing this thing? If it causes no harm, then why it it so bad and who says so? Is that a standard you agree with and wish to keep? There are things you should not be ashamed of, even if other people say you should. If you disagree with those thoughts, beliefs, or feelings then you can challenge them.

Knowledge is power. Know yourself, what you like, and what you want in life. Don't feel ashamed of what you enjoy. Think about who you are. Don't feel ashamed of yourself either. There are ways to deal with shame, move through it, and release it.

Vulnerability is closely related to shame. It has some surprising benefits. It's also essential for intimacy. Learn to overcome fear of vulnerability and be more vulnerable. When you are comfortable with vulnerability, it is much harder for shame to get a grip on you.

Emotional regulation is a set of skills for changing how you feel and maintaining control of your life. Dialectical Behavior Therapy is one way to learn emotional regulation. Different types of coping skills help you deal with your feelings. You can also just sit with a feeling. There are worksheets for emotional regulation. Learn some techniques for teaching emotional regulation to others.

Shaming people is a form of attack which can do a lot of damage. Understand how to respond if someone attempts to shame you for something which does no harm.

Everyone makes mistakes. You don't have to feel ashamed of those either. Identify them, learn from them, apologize for them, forgive yourself, and move on. Don't beat yourself up over them. Remember, if you're not making any mistakes, you're not learning, you're coasting.
Tags: how to, life lessons, safety

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