All of us have been toxically shamed at some point in our lives and some of us toxically shame ourselves with a critical inner voice. We might call ourselves, “lazy,” “worthless,” “no good,” “stupid,” “defective,” or “broken.” Toxic shame is a feeling that “I am not good enough” or “I am worthless.” Dwelling in a state of toxic shame for any extended period will most definitely result in anxiety, depression, anger, substance use, or self-destructive behavior.
Recognizing when we toxically shame ourselves or when other people toxically shame us is a critical first step.
One strategy for recognizing and overcoming toxic shame is to create a “Shame Siren.”
How to Make a Shame Siren
When someone puts you down or you put yourself down:
1. Imagine that you can turn on a siren by making a fist. When you make your fist you hear a siren that says, shame, shame, shame, shame, shame, shame. Hear it loud and clear.
2. Say to yourself. “It is only a feeling. I am a worthy person.” Say this several times to yourself. In this way, you externalize the internalized shame. You will transform it from a “state of being” back into a “feeling.” Feelings rise and fall. They are over and done with unlike a state of being.
3. Talk to or call at least one significant person in your life and ask that person to remind you of your inherent worth and goodness. If you are unable to talk with someone, write out all the ways you are good and worthy.
4. Next read the list of affirmations below to further push away the shame.
- I lovingly return the shame from where it came.
- The shame has been given back to its rightful owner.
- I lovingly release the pain that has come with the shame.
- The shame is outside of me and no longer within me.
- I release these pockets of pain and allow self-love to heal this shame.
- I release any thoughts of being unworthy.
- I release any thoughts that make me feel stuck.
- I refuse to wear this cloak of shame.
- I am enough.
- I always was enough.
- I am here to learn, grow and expand.
- From this day forward I promise to forgive myself when I make a mistake rather than condemn myself when I fall back into the faulty programs and patterns of my subconscious mind. I also promise to extend this forgiveness to others.
If you get into the habit of using a shame siren, it will become second nature to you. It will help you recognize when you are toxically shaming yourself or when someone else is toxically shaming you.
It will also prevent the shame from sticking to you like glue. As a result, you will be less reactive and more likely to take care of yourself rather than experience strong emotions or engage in self-destructive behavior.
If you are unable to get unstuck from toxic shame, please reach out to me for an appointment.