Shame is a feeling of humiliation that you might feel if you’ve done something you’re not proud of or that doesn’t fit with your values (for example, lying or cheating).
A feeling of shame can also arise if other people judge you negatively, make fun of you, or bully you. In that case, you shouldn’t feel ashamed of something you’re not responsible for. Sometimes we judge ourselves too harshly – even more harshly than other people.
How shame feels
You may blush, feel hot, want to cry, feel like digging a hole and burying yourself in it… Depending on the situation, everyone feels different.
Why shame is useful
Shame helps keep up the boundaries of respect between individuals because it appears when someone attacks our private life: our body, sexuality, emotions, feelings.
What to do when you feel ashamed
- Assess the situation. Is your shame the consequence of your own actions or someone else’s? Try to divide the situation into what you’re responsible for and what you aren’t responsible for so you can better understand your reactions.
- Repair the wrong. If you’ve really said or done something you’re not proud of, the feeling of shame tells you that it’s important to apologize and try to repair your mistake.
- Explain yourself. Take the time to talk to the people who were affected by your actions and tell them you made a mistake. Sometimes talking about it can help to settle a conflict and relieve your feeling of shame.
- Stand up for yourself. If your shame is caused by other people’s insults, remember that you’re not responsible for their actions. We’re all different and each one of us has our own strengths and weaknesses. Perfection doesn’t exist!
You can also talk about what you feel and try to find new strategies or other ways of reacting when a similar situation comes up. Talk about it with someone you trust or contact Tel-jeunes.