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Dear Shame…

May 15, 2019
Adios Shame!

Dear Shame,

I am writing this letter to tell you that it is time to pry your sharp claws out of my brain and sever this unhealthy relationship between you and I. In the past, when I have tried to move away from you, those claws only dug in and caused pain. It was less painful to let you stay. But I am strong now and prepared to endure the pain that it will take to remove you from life. You have been lying to me for all these years, telling me I was less than good enough in so many ways–that I was so flawed, undeserving of happiness, love or peace. Yes, you are the consummate LIAR!!!! I never understood how much of a role you played in shaping my self image.

It will not be easy to kick you out of my brain. From a very young age through today, I have been immersed in a culture of shame. My mother, my father’s mother, kids at school, my husband and other family members succeeded over and over at making me feel unworthy and small. I was not validated when I made my own decisions, disagreed or tried be my own person. I was constantly judged and told that what I did was not right or never enough. It was always my fault. My feelings were never validated, considered or at times, even acknowledged. That pervasive feeling of inferiority is still such an indelible part of my psyche.

Here’s how you have negatively impacted my life. Because of you, my decision making has been affected because I do not have confidence in my decisions. If I make a mistake, I am a bad. So I avoid decisions or overthink to obsession. Because of you, I am uncomfortable in social situations, always worrying about saying or doing the wrong thing. If I say the wrong thing, I will certainly be looked at as a bad person. Because of you I am a people pleaser searching for acceptance and appreciation. Because of you, I continually set impossible expectations for myself, drive myself to overachieve and beat myself up if I don’t completely succeed. Because of you, I have trouble standing up for myself because I am afraid of rejection or failure. Because of you, SHAME, I have never really fully given or received love. I guess, in my subconscious mind, I haven’t felt as though I was good enough to give it or receive it. Because of you, my self talk continues to be harsh, unreasonable and unforgiving. Because of you, SHAME, I have harbored a simmering, low level of anger for most of my life. On the outside I was smiling and accommodating. On the inside I was angry at myself for being flawed and imperfect and angry at others for how they treated me. And sadly, because of you, I too learned how to shame others and have used it at times as a tool to hurt others.

SHAME, I am taking a stand. I am now VERY aware of what you are and how deceitful you have been all these years. I am aware of your negative impact on my life. I am angry with you and how much I have missed out on in my life because of you. It’s time for a change. From here on in, I will work hard to change my self talk and NOT believe what you are telling me about myself. I will work to use gentle language to forgive myself, treat myself with kindness, consideration and respect. I will work hard to reinforce the idea that being a flawed human being does not mean I am innately bad. Yes, I am flawed but there’s no one on Earth that isn’t and that’s O.K! All I can do is be the best I can be. And that is good enough. I deserve to feel good about myself… because I am a good person!

So… SHAME, your days of residence inside my head are numbered. Those claws will be pried out one at a time. I have to say again…it will not be easy. You’ve been with me for so many years… as far back as I can remember! But talking about you and shedding light on you is what makes you leave. I have started that process TODAY!

Adios SHAME! You will not be missed!
Anonymous I&A Client

About the Author
Dr. Connie Ingram is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, and Corporate Consultant. She is certified in clinical supervision for undergraduate and graduate students as well as those seeking supervision to obtain professional license. Connie is an adjunct professor in counseling and leadership studies, a supreme court certified mediator, and a parenting coordinator. Connie is most known for her public speaking and training in the areas of relationships, stress/anxiety, and leadership.