In this podcast (episode #440) and blog, I talk about several helpful ways to get out of a shame spiral.
In our society today, it can be hard to feel any degree of self-worth. We are bombarded with the shame of not living up to our own expectations, or the expectations of others. We cannot live up to the photoshopped and retouched images that seem to tell us that to be happy, we must look, dress or act in a certain way, or get straight As and go to an Ivy League university. We are not able to compete with celebrities and influencers—we are just one social media ‘like’ in a sea of admirers, wishing to be someone or do something.
It is easy to give in to these voices, listen to them and allow them to take root inside our heads. It is easy to fall into a “shame spiral,” feeling like you will never be able to live up to what society deems as worthy.
How can we escape this spiral? How can we quit the system and be happy being who we really are at our core? How can we learn to be comfortable with who we are and where we are in life?
- Stop comparing your life with others. Although this can be hard, comparison is one of the surest ways to find yourself in a “shame spiral.” It is so important to remember that no two individuals are alike; we all think, feel and choose in different ways. In fact, the law of the brain is diversity—you really can’t be anyone else but yourself. So don’t spend your time trying to be like Albert Einstein, or even Kylie Jenner. You will make a lousy someone else, but a perfect you. When you find yourself comparing your life to others, stop those thoughts in their tracks, and think about what you love to do and what you have to be proud of in your life. Perhaps write your thoughts down in a journal, and remind yourself of them when you are feeling down.
- Surround yourself with people that love you. When you feel worthless, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Text or call a loved one, or go for coffee with a friend or family member. Be open and honest about how you feel. Having someone listen and love you is incredibly therapeutic and can help you gain some perspective, allowing you to see how much you have to be happy about, while isolation is incredibly damaging to your mental and physical health.
- Don’t let thoughts just wander through your mind! Marinating on a toxic thought is one of the biggest predictors of mental ill-health, because whatever you think about the most will grow, affecting what you think, say and do. It is important to remember that thoughts change the structure of our brains, which, in turn, affects how we live our lives. Practice thinking about your thinking, perhaps writing down your thoughts and thinking how you can replace (reconceptualize) a negative thought about yourself with a positive one. For example, if you feel like you are not pretty enough to be loved, write that thought down, and then write down the thought you want to replace this negative opinion about yourself with—perhaps replace this thought with “I have beautiful eyes” or “I really have amazing hair, even my hairdresser said so!”. Do this over three weeks, as it takes a minimum of 21 days to start rewiring a negative thought pattern and replacing it with a more positive mindset.
For more on exiting the shame spiral, listen to my podcast (episode #440). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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1:25 How low self-esteem & shame are connected
1:40 What shame is
2:15 The difference between shame & guilt
3:30, 9:05 The shame spiral
6:20 Shame & the mind-brain connection
9:30 How easy it is to feel shame
12:25, 18:27, 28:00 How to exit the shame spiral
24:15 Don’t let negative thoughts just wander through your mind!
26:00 How to “edit” your shame thoughts
This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.