Shame is a soul-eating emotion – Carl Jung
Guilt, shame, regrets are some of the baggage many of us carry around. This baggage drags us and prevents us from living our best life. To be a fully functioning person, we need to live without regret and move past guilt and shame. How can we do this? How can move past our regrets and shame?
Stop with the guilt trip
You have to stop feeling guilty. Whatever you did, you need to work yourself through this guilt to move forward. Self- imposed guilt is the worst form of guilt. We all make mistakes sometimes and if you carry your guilt like a badge of shame, it will hunt you forever.
Carrying the guilt around will lead you to question your values and principles. You start thinking that you are not a good person and you don’t deserve good things. To move past this and live free from your past mistakes, learn how to overcome guilt and be free from your mistakes.
Talk about it and remove the stigma
“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable” -Brene brown
The more we are afraid to talk about our shame, the more power we give it. Brene Brown has dedicated her life to studying shame. From her teachings, we learn that shame becomes more powerful when we don’t want to talk about it. It thrives in our embarrassment and choosing to keep quiet about it.
To address shame and to start forging ways to move forward from it, we need to talk about it. Talk about what you are ashamed about. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. If you carry your shame because your family broke up, talk about it. Expose the same and realize that it is not as ugly as it may appear. The more you talk about something, the more you remove the stigma from it.
If you did something that you are ashamed of, talk about it. You don’t have to go shouting on rooftops. You can choose to talk to someone that understands. When you undress shame, it stops being so threatening to you. Naked shame becomes as vulnerable as you are, and it’s not so scary anymore.
Self-imposed shame, guilt, and regret is the worst. Do you hate yourself for your past mistakes? Are you afraid of your deeds and feel you are not a worthy person? You need to forgive yourself.
Carrying around shame and regret is often self-imposed. If you have apologized to those that you wronged, chances are that they have forgiven you but you are yet to forgive yourself.
Even if they don’t forgive you, because some people are happy to carry around a grudge, you need to forgive yourself in order to thrive again. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Allow yourself some room for error.
When you don’t forgive yourself, you continue to hurt yourself. You continue to hurt your future and sabotage yourself because you feel that you don’t deserve good things. Move past your shame and regrets by forgiving yourself and cutting yourself some slack.
Approve of yourself
It doesn’t matter what you did in the past, you are who you are and you can’t change that. Since there is no one else to be you, learn to be you, proudly. Approve of yourself. Accept who you are, with or without mistakes.
Accept that you are a flawed individual, you are not perfect and no one is. When you approve of yourself, you can forgive yourself. You can look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of who you are without self-hate.
Self-acceptance comes from self-awareness. When you fully understand who you are, you accept yourself for who you are. You stop comparing yourself with others and accept yourself as an authentic and unique individual. This way, you don’t live with what could have been, but with what is, no matter how pretty or not pretty it is.
Reconsider your values
What exactly is causing you shame and regret? Are you judging yourself based on past thoughts and beliefs? Are you judging yourself based on societal expectations? If you guilt, regret and shame are imposed on you due to the society or beliefs that you were taught, you need to reconsider your values.
For example, growing up in some religions can impose some guilt, shame, and regret regarding sex. Some societies impose shame on religious, racial, gender and even career choices. In such a case, look at these values.
Examine if they deserve to make you feel guilty. If you were taught not to have sex before marriage but your values have changed along the way and you enjoy sex before marriage, then it’s not fair to yourself to use your teachings as a yardstick.
Choose to judge yourself and accept yourself based on the values you have created for yourself and not created and imposed on you by society.
Embrace the present
Living in the past will only hurt you constantly. You hold yourself a prisoner of your past mistakes every time you dwell on the past. You cannot change what happened in the past, but you can do something about the present and the future.
Embrace the present. Allow yourself to accept the person you are today and work on this person. This person made mistakes, but this person has learned from her mistakes and is happy to move forward.
Recommended book: The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
Quit the negative self-talk
We are our own worst enemies sometimes. When you constantly remind yourself of your past mistakes, dwell in regrets and feel shame, you are only hurting yourself.
In order to move past your mistakes, and stop feeling guilty and ashamed, quit the negative talk. Stop telling yourself that you are a terrible person and that you deserve all the bad things that happen to you.
Use this energy for positive self-talk. Tell yourself good things. Tell yourself things that make you feel worthy, strong, and deserving of good things. I made a list of affirmations that you might find helpful for some positive self-talk.
Channel your thoughts to gratitude
Learn to be grateful. It’s true, you have done some bad things in the past. You have done things that you are ashamed of. You have also done some things that you are grateful for. You are not full of terrible things, you deserve good things.
Learn to be grateful. Rather than focusing on all the things that went wrong in your life, look on the brighter side and appreciate the good things that have happened in your life. Look at some of your achievements and be like, ‘yep! I did that! I did a good thing’.
Many live with regrets and shame due to their past mistakes. The more we dwell on these, the more we hold ourselves back. You can get past your guilt and shame and appreciate your life. You can be a person that you are proud of. All you have to work in is improving yourself, embracing positivity and allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to address what you are ashamed about. Soon, all the guilt, regret and shame will have absolutely no power over you.