Have you ever beat yourself up for having a bad day?
Having a bad day (or week) doesn’t have to define us. How we rise above the bad day and climb out of shame defines us. It may take several days to get out of a funk, but you can do it.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, but the way you carry it.” ~Unknown
The Toxic Downward Spiral of Shame
Shame is toxic. When you feel shame, you think you are the mistakes you’ve made. You internalize the mistake, letting it eat away at you, instead of letting the mistake be something to learn from.
If you are embarrassed or ashamed about how you handle yourself in a situation, you may stew in shame and self-criticism. If you do, you will go deeper into a dark cave and have a hard time crawling out.
For instance, let’s say you have a fight with your significant other, and to comfort yourself you turn to food. You overeat until you feel numb, but then you end up feeling worse about yourself. This shame keeps you more isolated because you feel unworthy. So the next time tension erupts in your relationship, the cycle continues.
Climb Up Instead of Down
The downward spiral doesn’t have to stop at the bottom. When you hit the deep pit of shame, there comes a time when you realize you have a choice. You can stay in shame and self-criticism or you can crawl your way out.
“To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.” ~Katherine Paterson
Where can you interrupt the cycle? How else can you think about yourself?
You talk yourself out of the deep cavern of shame and guilt by gripping one stone at a time:
- Believing that you can handle hard stuff
- Knowing self-confidence grows the more you rise above hard stuff
- Remembering that everyone makes mistakes and they don’t define us
- Climbing is uncomfortable but good for us
- Learning doesn’t involve negative self-criticism
You put anyone in a situation with enough stress, pressure, and tension and they will crack. Everyone has a breaking point. This doesn’t mean you are weak or chemically imbalanced. It means you are human. Under enough stress, we all fight or flee.
Knock the dust off, bandage the sores, and rise to the challenge of climbing out.
How do you rise above shame and interrupt self-criticism?
Photo Credit: “Climb” by Leonardo Palloto