You feel so completely alone when that dark cloud descends on you. There is no way, you think, for you to lift your eyes, to walk over and say, “hello.” Some days you call it guilt, other days it’s anxiety, depression, or emptiness. All that is real but below it there is something else. Shame makes you feel worthless and powerless – and there’s a danger in that.
You will want to hide and punish yourself, and in the process, dig deeper into the darkness. In that place, there’s no room for connection, love or optimism. Drowning in the deep end of shame, it is impossible to make anything good. But you need to know this: you are worthy, whatever it may be that makes you feel it. Know this, too: whatever decisions you’ve made or mistakes that have happened do not define you. Punishing yourself won’t make you better. Being better, loving better and building bridges will make you better. These can all be accomplished once you’ve taken control of and diminished shame.
Do this by revealing yourself, your pain and whatever it is you are trying so hard to hide. Yes, it may seem counter intuitive – but the world might not see you as harshly as you see yourself. There is love for you in the world. We all make mistakes and there is room for forgiveness. Make room for that, and the shame will shrink. Ask yourself: When does this menace rear its head? What vulnerability does it point to? How does it work? And then be brave. Find someone you trust and tell your story. More often than not, your vulnerability will build connection and diminish shame. You don’t have to be alone on this journey.