By: Megan Wordsworth, Guest Blogger
Shame is something that I, like most other women, struggle with the most in my life. Everything you can thing of I probably question my self-worth, and what follows after that is, yep, you got it, shame. If one were to look up the definition of shame in the Merriam Webster dictionary it would say, “a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong.” Why do women feel so ashamed of ourselves? Everything from what we look like, to how much we weigh, the words we say, to even wanting to be somebody else; women typically feel ashamed of who they really are all the time. How sad is that?
Dr. Brené Brown has described the process of how most of us deal with shame: We Numb, We Control, We Perfect, and We Pretend. I know for me I used this same cycle during my eating disorder. It provided a way for me to numb and control the pain I was feeling; it also provided a way for me to try to be “perfect” in my disorder, and then I would pretend that everything was “fine.” It doesn’t have to be an eating disorder to take part in this awful cycle. It can be anything from food, drugs, alcohol, clothes, school, self-harm, comparing to others, and many other issues, and all of these things stem from being ashamed of who we are.
So how can we stop this vicious shame cycle? It’s not going to be easy, but if we replace that shame with grace our whole outlook will change. Understanding that we are all human, we all have imperfections, we all make mistakes, and most importantly, we all matter, will help diminish the shame game. Grace is not something that is easily practiced. So how can one acquire such a hard virtue? I find mine in the grace of God, but I also try to live my life based on the values that are closest to my heart. One of my favorite things to do with my therapist is the value cards. She gives me a deck of cards with various values on them: family, money, spirituality, etc., and then I sort out the deck and arrange them until I get my top 5. The goal of the exercise is to pick your top 5-6 values and try to live according to those values. Try this exercise; it will help you realize what moves you. The goal of the exercise is the more you live according to your values the less shame you will feel!
The more we keep shame inside, the worse off everyone is in the long run!
- Give Megan's exercise a try. What did you learn? How did it make you feel? How has it helped change the way you live your life?
Megan is a student in the Honors Communication program at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, with the hope of gaining a career in the Entertainment Industry. As Vice-President of the North Carolina chapter of Project Heal, Megan is on a mission to spread positive body awareness. She has also worked as a background actor on the sets of Revenge, One Tree Hill, Under the Dome, Sleepy Hollow, and Nicholas Sparks’ The Longest Ride. She spends her free time baking delicious gluten free treats and watching reruns of her favorite show, One Tree Hill.
image via stunningmesh.com