4 Ways to Silence Shame in Your Life
It typically sneaks in without me knowing. You know, the narratives we tell ourselves about who we really are.
–I had premarital sex. I’m a bad wife.
–I struggle with alcohol addiction. I’m a terrible person.
–I don’t spend time with Jesus every day. I’m a bad Christian.
–I yell at my children. I’m a horrible mom.
–I talked negatively about someone. I am a terrible friend.
–I lie regularly. I’m a fake.
Without firm guard, shame sneaks in and can steal our identity. It robs us of the truth and convinces us that we are a detriment to ourselves and those around us. Shame negatively affects our relationships with others and creates division in our marriages.
Possibly most damaging, shame keeps us from living freely loved by Jesus and by our husband.
When shame has taken root in our heart and mind, we might hear, say, or feel the following in our marriage:
–My husband doesn’t love me. However, when we recognize the shame pattern in our life, it’s because shame has convinced us we aren’t worthy of love.
–My husband doesn’t help me around the house. When we can recognize shame, we begin to see that shame has kept us from feeling worthy to accept his help. We think if we were a better wife, we wouldn’t need his help.
–I don’t feel my husband loves me unconditionally. Ask yourself the question: do I understand what unconditional love even means? Shame has lied to us and told us we think people only love us when we are performing perfectly.
What can we do when shame shuts us down from loving and being loved?
Here are four ways we can help silence the shame in our lives.
- Consider where the root of the shame originates. By recognizing where shame began can help us negate the narrative it tries to tell us. Think back to where and why you tell yourself shameful messages. Was it from a situation? Did you believe this from childhood? Did your personality twist the truth from friends in high school? By examining the roots, it’s easier to pull the weeds. Write out each shameful message as you recognize them, and as the Lord helps you identify where and when it began, write it down next to the message.
- Receive empathy from a trusted friend. Brene Brown teaches the opposite of shame is empathy. To receive empathy, we must share our innermost thoughts with someone. I don’t know about you, but that feels overwhelming and terrifying. However, our hearts and minds need to hear words of affirmation and encouragement. It is also crucial for us to admit our areas of shame and what situations trigger shame in our lives so that we bring it into the light and allow God’s truth to shine there. Sharing our shame and receiving empathy is a critical first step in living in freedom from shame. Consider calling a Christian counselor, a trusted Godly friend, or maybe sharing these shameful narratives with your husband.
- Create a list of truths that speak to those areas of struggle for you and read them out loud as often as necessary. Next to the shameful message and it’s root, write down the truth of what God says about you. Maybe you need to write down “I am loved and cherished by God. I am worthy of His love. I am worthy of receiving love from others, and it does not have to be earned. What I do is enough, it might look different, but what I do is enough. I am compassionate and creative. I am kind and tenderhearted. I am forgiven, and I forgive others.” Your list might look different from mine, and that is okay. Truth statements help defeat the lies that sound like truth in our ears. Speaking the truths out loud may feel awkward, but the more comfortable we become with claiming these truths in our lives, the easier it becomes to believe these truths.
- Pray. Acknowledge the fact that Christ died for you and that you are forgiven. Ask God to prick your thoughts each time a shameful thought enters. If you can catch that thought when it first enters your mind, you can take it captive and make it obedient to Christ’s truth. Ask God to free you from the shame that weighs you down. God desires for you to walk in freedom, not weighed down with shame.
These tips seem so simple to read. However, when you start trying to implement them, you will quickly find they are much harder than expected. Sharing is scary. The truth list seems ridiculous. Speaking truths every day seems like a waste of time. Walking in freedom sounds scary. Capturing thoughts feels like a lot of work. Silenced, by shame, seems much safer.
But sisters, I don’t want the enemy to have a foothold in your life. I want you to experience the forgiveness and freedom that we find in Jesus. You are worth learning to live a life of freedom. Your marriage has the potential to be a hundredfold better when you learn to silence shame instead of it silencing you. Let’s learn to free ourselves of shame and walk in the freedom Jesus offers us.
Wife Step: Grab a journal or piece of paper and get started with the first step.
Karen lives in Madison, Alabama with her husband and three children. Karen has served as Preschool and Children’s Pastor and has been involved in women’s ministry for many years leading small groups, making hospital visits, organizing retreats, and encouraging the hearts of women. Karen now blogs at Glimpses of Faith and Struggles. What started out as a way to communicate medical facts has become a place where Karen uses life experiences to encourage others in their life journey. When she’s not busy caring for her family or writing, you might find her cooking or crafting.