Do you feel uncomfortable each time you talk about your past? Learn how to overcome feelings of shame.
Nadia is 37 years old, a successful private servant and feels uncomfortable every time they ask her about her origins. «Although I live and work in Greece the last 20 years, the fact that I come from Albania makes me feel inferior. Maybe it has to do with the racism. Not that I renounce my roots, but certainly I don’t speak of them. »
The social origins is a matter of shame for many people., especially if they reached a high socioeconomic status. And as a mechanism of «defense» it leads to the rejection of old friends and social contacts. In such cases, one needs to see what makes him feel ashamed and work it out with himself and those around him. What makes him feel bad in relation to these people and discuss it with them. It is not right to reject our experiences or social origins because all that have made us who we are. Our existence depends on our past.
When it is necessary
Sometimes the detachment from our past can be therapeutic in order to move on. Usually this is a normal reaction for people who as children have grown up in adverse family environment and have not received the necessary love, acceptance and support from their parents. In such cases it is therefore reasonable that they want to detach themselves from their past and no one can force them to be emotionally involved with people who hurt them.
Acts of Shame
Sofia isn’t very proud of her job when being a student. «I’ve worked in very infamous bars that otherwise I would normally avoid to pass by. I definitely don’t feel comfortable with it but I can’t change it. »
If we are ashamed of a past behavior, job, relationship and we did not like it what we can do now is to focus not on the past but the present. It is an experience and we learn from that. But since we do not want to repeat it we should concentrate on the present and what we can do to move forward.
Shame or Guilt
Shame has to do purely with ourselves and our self-awareness. It is associated with acceptance, as shame means that we don’t accept some part of us. On the other side guilt means that I have done something wrong, I hurt someone and my behavior has negative consequences to other people. If we do not accept ourselves and our mistakes, even those that make us feel ashamed, we will never find our balance, nor can we have a balanced relationship with those around us.
What we can do
Even through shame can we get something positive. Of course we must try:
- The first step is to accept what makes us feel ashamed because it is part of ourselves. If we don’t forgive ourselves we will never get through and move on.
- We shouldn’t do things that make us feel ashamed again and there is no reason to be stuck in the past.
- Avoidance is not a solution. Being aware of the thoughts and feelings that made us feel ashamed is necessary. As long as we avoid what bothers us so more intense becomes the feeling of shame.
- Through discussion with closed ones are we able to express all our thoughts and to exorcise the «evil» because something that we consider important loses its strength if we share it with others.
- We can consult a specialist or other important people with the same experiences on how they dealt with their feelings and moved on with their lives.