Shame – Understanding and Managing an Unpleasant Emotion

by | Sep 22, 2023 | Building Blocks

What is shame?

Shame is an uncomfortable emotion that many of us feel and experience throughout our lives. It’s a feeling that brings distress, humiliation, and guilt because of something we’ve done or said. It can also come from negative judgment that we sense from those around us, and when we let down those we love. It’s a powerful emotion that can have a strong effect on how we feel in our bodies and minds.

How does it make us feel?

Shame can make us feel weak, embarrassed, and overwhelmed. It can be so strong that it leads us to feel disconnected and isolated. But what makes it worse is if we let it take over and become too consumed in our shame. Often time being consumed with the shame you feel can lead to depression and anxiety.

What does it mean to be consumed by shame? It means being engulfed by negative emotions and feeling so deeply ashamed of yourself that all your thoughts and actions revolve around that negative feeling.  Eventually, you’ll become so consumed by these feelings of unworthiness, failure, and guilt, that you can’t use your attention on anything else in your life. 

Shame can also affect how we view ourselves and our self-confidence. Shame is a destructive emotion that makes us feel worse about ourselves, leading us to think we are worse than what we are. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

How we can manage it

There are times when shame can be a good thing, like when it helps us learn from our mistakes and make better decisions in the future. Like when we get a bad grade and make our family feel bad, or when we yell at someone when we shouldn’t have. But for the most part, it is a bad thing and we need to overcome it and move forward. Here are some steps to do that:

  • Shame is a normal emotion. It can be difficult to accept, but understanding that you are not alone can help you talk about it. 
  • Turn the shame into something positive. Maybe others laughed at your outfit. Stand tall, you get to wear what you want! 
  • Move forward by exercising self-forgiveness. No one is perfect! Remember that everyone has felt this way at one point.
  • Practice positive self-talk. Talk to yourself as if you were your best friend. If the 
  • world is negative towards you, be the one person in the world who is positive.
  • One of the most significant ways to take the guilt out of shame is to understand that it doesn’t define who you are. Don’t be ashamed of your appearance, where you are from, or what you like to do. It’s important to remember that you are not solely defined by your past mistakes or things that make you, you.

It is important to recognize and understand shame as a normal emotion. While it is hard to accept, there are ways to deal with your shame positively and move forward. Take the time to forgive yourself, think positively, and take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Do not let shame define who you are and the life you live. We all make mistakes, but if we can learn from them and continue to grow, we can create a stronger, healthier relationship with ourselves.

Take a closer look at why we feel ashamed, along with some coping techniques from Elijah’s video on shame below:

Elijah explores Shame

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About Nasser Albaqqal

Nasser Albaqqal is a 22 year old immigrant from Yemen who has been working with BBG since 2022. A graduate of San Jose State University, he is passionate about empowering individuals, families, and organizations to bounce back from the effects of toxic stress and trauma. His goal is to spread knowledge and understanding about the power of resilience and provide practical tools and resources to help people rid themselves of bad habits as a response to stress. Through the work he does, Nasser hopes to create content and blogs that not only meet the needs of the audience, but also helps them build and launch long-term successful recoveries.


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