The antidote to shame: self-acceptance

I’ve been struggling with shame for a long time now. I didn’t always know it as shame but I always felt a sense that I needed to hide myself from the world. This feeling lives under the surface of my conscious awareness and operates behind the scenes, quietly and insidiously holding me back from living a more exciting and interesting life.

Shame is not a new phenomenon and trying to dislodge the shame has been beyond my grasp for so long.

How can I stop feeling this way? Why is it there and does the ‘why’ even matter? Is it a conscious choice? If I can just be aware of the thought, can I notice it and let it go?

I thought about how I could change this pattern of shame the other night, asking myself, how does one change thoughts and feelings?

And it dawned on me that to change our thoughts, we simply needed to think differently.

Sounds simple: instead of focusing on what I don’t want, focus on what I do want. More specifically, the thoughts and feelings I’d like to think and feel.

So when it comes to shame, this sense of being bad seems dominant, but what is an antidote to that? Maybe it’s self-acceptance.

Instead of beating myself up for the shadows of long-lost regret, what if I could just accept myself as I am fully now?

I’ve never been one to practice affirmations. I seem to lack the discipline to create the habit and to stick with it but lately, instead of feeling bad about feeling ashamed, I’m simply practicing affirming to myself that I accept myself, that I honor myself, that I love myself, and that I forgive myself fully for any past mistakes.

When I do this – practice feeling self-acceptance – and practice honoring myself and my desire, I feel a subtle swell of positive energy in me, like the beginning of a seed that has the potential to blossom into something amazing.

Like anything, if done enough times, it can form a habit and I’m hopeful that practicing being kinder and more accepting of myself will instill a new habit in me, one that is long overdue.

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