Shame is a very powerful negative emotion that can restrict our lives in many ways. It can prevent us from expressing our true selves, from enacting our desires, and from living a life full of joy.
But too many of us feel ashamed for reasons that we ought not to. We hide parts of our personalities and we disguise our thoughts because we feel fearful of ridicule, rejection, and hurt.
The aim of this article is to discuss 10 of the most common sources of shame and explain why you needn’t feel this way about them. Hopefully it will help you to live a more authentic life, true to your own sense of self.
1. Your Dreams
Whether your dreams have been with you since childhood or they’re something you’ve discovered more recently, feeling ashamed of them will only serve as a barrier to achieving them.
The thing with dreams is that the more you believe in them – and in your own ability to make them a reality – the harder you will push and the closer you will get to them.
And the vast majority of people who matter to you will support your quest regardless of what it is; they will believe in you and encourage you along the way.
Should you encounter resistance from someone whose opinion you value, you just need to win them round by communicating why you have such a dream and what it would mean to you to have their support.
If anyone else laughs at your dreams, you should feel sorry for them; they do not know what it is like to have a dream and they certainly don’t have the courage to follow one. Such behavior is a form of envy and is an attempt to mask their own unhappiness.
Holding back your emotional response to something is hardly a modern behavior. In fact, it is something you would have likely seen in days gone by when both men and women were encouraged to stifle their true feelings.
Yet, this is an all too familiar approach for many in today’s society. Some people keep their feelings out of sight so as not to appear weak; others so they do not come across as boastful or over-zealous.
By doing so, however, they are not benefiting from experiencing an emotion in its entirety. Whether you label them as positive or negative, every emotion has something to tell us.
You should forget what other people think for a second and know that an honest expression of your emotions is healthy and is nothing to be ashamed of.
3. Your Past
We’ve all experienced things we’d have rather avoided – some worse than others – but as much as we might like to live in the present moment, our pasts are never far away.
Feeling ashamed of your past might seem like a perfectly natural response; after all, you would hate for it to happen again or for another person to go through it. And as natural as it might feel, shame is not a reaction that will help in any way.
Your past did happen and there is nothing you can do to change it now. It has helped shape you into the person you are today and you should be proud of who you are. In this respect, you might actually thank the past rather than hide it from others.
4. Your Friends
As much as you might value someone’s friendship, it is not uncommon to be somewhat reluctant to make it known to the wider world. This is especially true if your friend is someone who others might raise eyebrows at.
It is a sad state of affairs, but society still doesn’t always see people with fair and untainted eyes. Whether it is a person’s physical appearance, sexual orientation, religion, or world views, there are lots of prejudices still held among swathes of the population.
Not you, though; you don’t see what makes you different from your friend, but rather what connects the two of you together as human beings. And just because other people might not understand your friendship, you should be proud of it nonetheless.
You should never feel the need to hide or disguise something as beautiful as a deep friendship.
5. Saying No
When an opportunity comes our way, it can feel really difficult to pass it up. In fact, a feeling of guilt may even creep into our minds as we turn down an offer from a friend, a loved one, or even a stranger.
You worry that saying no to someone is equivalent to an insult, when it is actually a healthy thing to do. You should not feel bad – whether it is shame or some other feeling – about politely refusing an invitation.
If you look at it from the opposite perspective – if you say yes to something when you’d have rather said no, you are not showing your real self to the world. You are acting a character that isn’t you.
Saying yes all the time is an approach destined for disaster, so don’t feel ashamed of making your true desires clear by saying no once in a while.
6. Being Optimistic
Far too many people fill their minds and their time with negativity; they moan about their lot in life, they resent what others have, and they see nothing but hardship and heartache in their futures.
If you’re the polar opposite of this, if you are optimistic about the future and have positive thoughts about your life, you should be glad. You have made a choice to look on the bright side of everything and it will serve you well on your journey.
You certainly shouldn’t feel embarrassed by your upbeat outlook even if others envy you because of it.
7. Your Job / Financial Position
We all too quickly turn to money, possessions, and lifestyle when we want to consider someone’s wealth. We take note of their occupation, their bank balance, their outward appearance, the things they enjoy doing, and the way they speak; as if these things truly reflect a person.
But wealth is so much more than what can be seen – it is a state of being and a mindset that transcends mere physical and material things.
If you earn less than your peers, but you thoroughly enjoy your job, then you are as wealthy as they are. If you have a smaller house, a less expensive car, or go on fewer holidays, but you find meaning and happiness in each day that passes, you have nothing to be ashamed of.
After all, would you rather be a street cleaner with a huge smile on his face and joy in his heart, or a banker with stress lines on his face and sadness in his heart?
8. Your Need For “Me Time”
Showing care and love towards yourself is one of the most amazing things you can do, but it often involves taking some time away from the constant noise and commotion of the world.
Whether it is a relaxing bath, time spent baking yummy treats, or a walk in the woods, making space in your schedule for activities that take your mind away from the daily grind is essential for your wellbeing.
With this in mind, you should never feel guilty for taking a break from things to just spend time alone. Should anyone ever question it, you ought to assert that you value these moments of peace and suggest that they try to find their own little moments before judging you.
Nobody sets out to fail in any endeavor, but it is impossible to succeed each and every time you try. Unfortunately, failure is too often seen as a negative, as a blot on the report card of life. This interpretation is completely and utterly wrong.
Failure is a learning exercise and something that builds character. Failure means you tried, that you weren’t complacent, that you made an effort to better yourself or improve your situation.
Anybody who has ever succeeded has failed many times on the way, and they understand the value of each unsuccessful attempt. You, too, should see failure as a building block and ignore anyone who casts judgement upon you for what they see as a disappointment.
Rather than being ashamed of failure, you should be proud of it. You should be proud that you had the courage to try when others settle for standing still.
10. Your Religious Or Spiritual Beliefs
Your views on religion or spirituality may be at odds with lots of other people – whether they are in your life or merely strangers – and this may make you reluctant to share or talk about them.
You may fear disapproval, ridicule, or even persecution because of your beliefs, and hiding them away might seem like the best option, but by doing so you are effectively endorsing such behavior.
Being honest and open about what you believe in can seem difficult and others may not always find your views agreeable, but by showing conviction in them, you are, at least, living a life that is true to yourself.
You may also like:
- 9 Symptoms Of Toxic Shame: How To Identify It In A Person
- The Underlying Cause(s) Of Shame (+ Why It’s Not All Bad)
- How To Deal With Shame: The Process For Overcoming It