How To Overcome: Defining Yourself By Shame

(A Woman’s Guide To Reclaiming Wholeness After Sexual Abuse)

Blog and Podcast Show notes


By Simone N


For a more in depth discussion, check out the podcast  episode for this blog, to listen.

Episode #5

Have you allowed shame to rule your life?

Do you see yourself free from it?

How do we cut the cords of shame?


We all have expeienced shame at one time or the other.

To feel shame is to feel humiliated/embarrassment; it can also encompass other feelings of guilt, regret, as well as feelings of unworthiness and inferiority of  a past/present mistake, or a perceived fault. Shame is a very dark, dank and dis-empowering emotion.

For many of us, however, we subject ourselves to shame unnecessarily, and excessively. This becomes unwarranted shame, which is damaging toxic, and a cause of our unhappiness. Excessive and/or unwarranted shame can prevent us from living our lives fully,  accomplishing our goals and dreams, accepting the love and help we deserve, engaging fully in the present moment, expressing ourselves un-apologetically and with power, shine, loving ourselves at all, accepting opportunities.

For these reasons I previously mentioned, Shame is something that needs to be uprooted and expelled, to live a happy, complete, and fulfilling life, as well as developing a good relationship with ourselves.

It can become an everyday battle and hinderance in life for someone who has gone through abuses; especially sexual abuse. This is the biggest, and long lasting after-effct as a result of the trauma, and can last a lifetime, if not dealt with.

What is all the more tragic is when the survivor has unwarranted shame from traumatic experiences. The survivor is one that feels as though they are at fault(quie the contrary), even though it belongs to the perpetrator. The shame and guilt comes in when the survivor believes that they did something wrong, bad , something that makes them  feel unworthy, and can even feel self-hate. Children that were abused, many times, develop these feelings of having experienced something this confusing and painful. For some reason, children are wired to  believe that they are at fault for anything bad (tragic,traumatic, and painful); with what happens to them, or others, these horrific experiences are that much more damaging and painful. Also it good to mention that some were told to keep the abuse a secret, while having some awareness that what is  being done is wrong.  With that understanding, they then turn that on themselves (feel as if they are wrong), this then further compounds the feelings of shame. The situation may intensify if the child is threatened (themselves, or other loved ones if they speak out), on top of all of this painful confusion, and shame, another layer of shame is added to compound.

These children then grow up into adults, yet the shame still remains. The abuse is long done, but because our brains develop patterns, ideas and ingrained beliefs (especially through trauma) by our experiences,  we take it with us throughout life.  We still carry those feelings of shame and/or guilt, feelings  of wrongness and worthiness, of our formative years; the memories play in our subconscious minds.When we go year after year with these very powerful, residual feelings of shame, we identify with it. In other words, we feel and think as though it is a part of us, who we are, our identity.

For example: ” I am wrong”. Which is an expression, or the language of shame. We believe we are what the shame labels us to be, and how to feel about ourselves. Any language; action/behavior, labels/names, and painful emotion that come from shame, we take on those distortions. Until we dispel the toxicity of this emotion, it will contaminate all aspects of lives,  for our lifetime.

I can give you a few ways to combat shame:

  • Forgive your self and your past. To  forgive it to release, rid yourself of anything that doesn’t serve you positively. Forgive what was, how it was, what happened, with whom it happened with. Know that is done, finished, will never happen again, and cannot be changed. To forgive yourself, it is not for the intention of indicating fault, or mistake, but quite the opposite. Forgive yourself today for thinking and believing that you did anything wrong; that you were at fault, wrong, digusting, unworthy, or inferior. Forgive yourself for thinking you need to be shameful. Forgive yourself for believing that you could have done anything about the incident, that it could have  been  any different. Learn how to forgive in the next point.
  • Use positive affirmations. These can take the form of a phrase, quote or statement  that is said out loud or written, repeated daily, however you wish. Some example are: “I forgive myself for thinking I am wrong” or “I am enough” etc. Use positive affirmations to create and reinforce a new belief, a pattern of thought that is  uplifting, healthy, and true about you.
  • Watch the words you use to describe yourself. Be aware/ mindful of what you say to yourself. Don’t use the language of shame, do not believe the lies. If you do, you will only reinforce more shame/shameful feeling within yourself, ultimately your idea about yourself will never change. Instead use healthier, uplifting, true statements about you.
  • Watch out for/avoid certain  behaviors that trigger shame. If there is a certain thing or behavior that you do that brings out and upheaval of shame, stop doing it. Granted, if you are someone that struggles with frequent and excessive shame, then almost anything will bring it out. What speak about here, are those certain behaviors  that we can control; they are the things that we know will badly trigger those memories of the abusive past, yet we continue to do them. If you keep doing things purposely to trigger yourself, you will then have more shame from creating more of it, of that which is already within yourself. This then will make you depressed because  the cycle of shame perpetuates. You must allow yourself to heal. Know and avoid your major triggers.


As you practice reversing these feelings of shame, just know that is a process; it takes time to unlearn, so have patience.

Next article: How To Overcome: Defining Yourself By Feelings Of Inferiority