5: Techniques for Overcoming Shame

Welcome to Section 5 of our course. Now that you have identified your personal triggers for shame, it’s time to learn how to cope with these triggers in a healthy and effective manner.

Coping strategies are specific techniques that help us manage and navigate difficult emotions or situations. These strategies may be cognitive, such as reframing negative thoughts, or behavioural, such as deep breathing exercises.

Today, we’ll explore different strategies you can employ when faced with a shame trigger. Each person is unique, so it’s important to find what works best for you. You might find some techniques more effective than others, and that’s perfectly okay.

1. Self-Compassion: Be gentle with yourself. Negative self-talk can fuel feelings of shame, so consciously practice speaking to yourself with kindness and understanding, as you would to a dear friend.

2. Mindfulness: Stay present in the moment. Acknowledge your feelings without judgement and remind yourself that it’s okay to feel the way you do.

3. Cognitive Reframing: This involves changing your perspective on a situation. For instance, if you feel shame because of criticism, try reframing it as an opportunity for growth and learning.

4. Breathing Exercises: Deep, controlled breathing can help calm your body and mind, making it easier to manage your feelings.

5. Reach Out to Others: Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or family member can help alleviate shame. They can provide a different perspective and offer support.

Daily Change Reflective Excercise

Reflective Exercise:

Write about a recent situation where you experienced a shame trigger. Now, think about how you could apply each of the five coping strategies to that situation. How might these strategies change your reaction or your feelings about the situation?

Here are three example responses for this reflective exercise:

Example 1: Situation: A friend pointed out a mistake in a project I had worked very hard on.

  1. Self-Compassion: I remind myself that everyone makes mistakes, it doesn’t make me less competent or worthy.
  2. Mindfulness: I acknowledge my feelings of embarrassment without judgment. It’s okay to feel this way.
  3. Cognitive Reframing: I view this mistake as a learning opportunity. It will help me improve my future projects.
  4. Breathing Exercises: I take deep, calming breaths to reduce the initial shock and embarrassment.
  5. Reach Out to Others: I share my feelings with another friend who reassures me that everyone makes mistakes and encourages me to keep going.

Example 2: Situation: A relative made a dismissive comment about my career choice during a family gathering.

  1. Self-Compassion: I remind myself that I chose my career based on my passion and skills. It’s okay if others don’t understand that.
  2. Mindfulness: I acknowledge the hurt and embarrassment I feel without judging myself for these feelings.
  3. Cognitive Reframing: I see their comment as a reflection of their perspectives, not a measure of my worth or success.
  4. Breathing Exercises: I take a few moments alone to do deep breathing, helping me calm down and regain my composure.
  5. Reach Out to Others: I confide in a close friend about the incident, who reminds me of my achievements and why I chose my career path.

Example 3: Situation: I didn’t get a promotion at work that I was hoping for.

  1. Self-Compassion: I remind myself that this setback does not define my capabilities or reduce my worth.
  2. Mindfulness: I allow myself to feel disappointed, understanding that it’s a normal response to the situation.
  3. Cognitive Reframing: I choose to view this as an opportunity to improve and enhance my skills for the future.
  4. Breathing Exercises: I use deep breathing techniques to manage my initial disappointment and stress.
  5. Reach Out to Others: I discuss the situation with a mentor, who provides guidance and reassures me that there will be other opportunities.

Remember, these are just examples, and your responses will be unique to your personal experiences and emotions. The goal is to practice applying these strategies to real situations to help manage feelings of shame.

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Daily Change Main Takeaways

Key Takeaways:

  1. There are various effective strategies for coping with shame triggers.
  2. The key to managing shame lies in self-compassion, mindfulness, cognitive reframing, breathing exercises, and reaching out to others.
  3. Different strategies work for different people. It’s important to find what suits you best.

In the next section, we’ll explore how to build resilience against shame, helping you become more robust and empowered in the face of shame triggers. You’re doing excellent work, keep it up!