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How To Break Free From Shame

How To Break Free From Shame

Do you know how to break free from shame? It’s not easy. Later in this article, we’ll detail 3 ways to break free from shame. First, I’ll detail my experiences with shame.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Sitting in second-period algebra class, during my freshman year of high school. We were reviewing factoring, and the teacher was going around the room calling on students. As the teacher got closer to me, she called my name.

Then something happened. I blanked. I panicked. I stared blankly at the sheet of paper in front of me. Then back up at the teacher. It felt like all eyes were on me now. I didn’t know the answer. And even worse I didn’t even remember the question she has asked amidst the panic. A few seconds seemed like hours. I was so embarrassed.  I couldn’t even get a word out.

My teacher kept looking at me, and she said words I would never forget. “Mr. Casey, you had best be prepared next time I call on you again.”

A remember a few of my classmates snickering as my face turned beet red. My heart was racing. It felt like my chest was sinking in. And in that small moment, I was introduced to shame.

Just a Taste of Shame

I struggled through algebra the rest of that year. Although I had strong verbal and writing skills, my grades were abysmal in math. I had to stay after and get extra tutoring just to get a passing grade. And even then I struggled to grasp the concepts. But something else happened that year that I began to carry for many years to come.

I began to feel shame and fear in a lot of my schoolwork. I would relive that moment over and over again. Even the school work where I scored well. I was fearful of being called on again, but I also began to doubt my ability as a student and often dreaded going to school.

But rather than pushing me into a mode of perfectionism, I began to hide from academics. I often felt like I would never measure up in the classroom. I was the kid that would hide in the back of the classroom in high school. I would often procrastinate, not because I was lazy, but instead, I was fearful. I found myself doing just enough to get by, because of shame. I would often second guess myself and be afraid of giving my best effort. I struggled with self-confidence and still do at times when new opportunities arise for fear of failure. I struggle with change.

The Lies of Shame

It turns out; I’m not alone in this. Shame is something many people experience because of negative experiences or words, and negative self-talk fuels it. It tells us things over and over to hide our shame:

  • I’m not talented/good looking/caring/creative/popular/successful enough
  • I’m flawed
  • I’m going to pretend everything is okay
  • No one can find out about this
  • I’ll never measure up

So how can we break this nasty cycle that holds so many of us back? How can we find ways to become more resilient. Men especially suffer in this area because we do not talk about it.

How To Break Free From Shame

First, we need to recognize when we feel shame and have a reasoned response against it. We must identify the physical triggers when we experience those emotions.

Second, we need to share our stories with people we can trust. They say that empathy is an antidote to shame. One of the things that shame tries to do in our lives is tell us that we are the only ones that are going through this. So we isolate. By naming shame for what it is, it loses some of the toxic power it can have in our lives. Talking to a close and trusted friend opens the door to healing from shame.

Third, we need to recognize who we are in Christ. Be reminded of the promises found in Scripture. No matter what we have done, and how much shame that we have carried around, there is hope in Christ. Be reminded that God knows every shortcoming and every sin we have in our lives and yet still chooses to love us.

Romans 15:7: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

About the Author: Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative.

11 Comments

  1. Damian

    Shame and guilt are the greatest tools the enemy uses to hold us down and not focus on our ONE TRUE GOD.

    Reply
    • Steve

      I totally agree. We need to become completely transparent with our lives.

      Reply
  2. Alfredo

    Amen. Shame and guilt do their most damage when they are kept under wraps. Sharing them with a trusted friend is what our enemy will try to keep us from doing because he wants us to continue to carry these burdens and remain isolated. However Jesus wants to set us free!

    Reply
  3. Vernon Brant

    “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
    ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:13‬ ‭

    Sometimes we mess up and allow our freedom in Christ to become something God never intended. Those mistakes may result in sin that the enemy will hold over our head in the form of shame. However, when we love and serve one another Holy Spirit exposes the sin and an opportunity for repentance arrives. Shame can and will be lifted when we take advantage of the opportunity.

    Reply
  4. Marty

    Guilt: is the negative action. “I did this……”
    Shame: is the negative emotion. ” I am this……”
    Both need to faced internally, externally and through confession.
    Thanks for this safe forum and fellow unCommen
    Amen.

    Reply
  5. Isaac

    There are some very important things to note about this article. It clearly defines a time where a negative root was planted and allowed to flourish into a tree of negativity. These are the types of things as men we struggle with because we often don’t trace it back to the root. After just being a child of God for a short time I realized that I had several of the roots in my life that caused many negative outcomes in my 11 years of marriage and father hood. I read two books “Drawing close to the fire” & “Wounded” by Terry Wardell” I also went through a 1 Sunday a week 4 hour study for 13 weeks on the two books. Boy I wish I would have done this soone! Every emotion in my opinion whether negative or positive has a root, we need to realize our reactions when we get negative feelings and write it down the ask.
    Why did I react that way?
    Why did that cause that kind of emotion?
    And then turn to God and ask him to reveal anything that might be hidden or blocked from our memory that would trigger this emotion. Then we pray until we find the wound, hurt, or root. That’s when we also ask God to release this hurt and pull this root. It won’t be easy and I guarantee you will need God for this don’t try it alone. You will be very surprised to find that once it’s gone it will be a life changing moment!!!!

    Good luck
    God bless
    Stay UNCOMMEN!

    Reply
  6. Amos G W. Holts

    This is so good and so powerful. It runs so deep and so subliminal subliminal that it’s hard to even put your fingers on it praise God for bringing it to the surface hopefully prayerfully we will be able to be better men as God would have us to be recognizing this subliminal enemy.

    Reply
  7. Cary

    Age does not stop the enemy from using shame to bring us down. You are constantly told you don’t measure up. Not a good father; not a good husband; not a good lover; etc. only a strong conviction that God truly Loves you as you are with all your faults and failures can keep a person from being dragged down by shame.

    Reply
  8. Alex

    God forgives and forgets as soon as we admit repent. Guilt and shame is not of God, it is only of the enemy. Go forward with confidence knowing that you are renewed in Christ.

    Reply
  9. Omar

    Perfect verse reference for the message!

    Reply
  10. Ron

    Thank you for sharing you story. It sounds like you felt horrible after the teacher’s comment. Can someone help me understand the difference between shame and guilt? I don’t know if I can easily distinguish between the two. Second, is there ever a time shame is appropriate?

    Reply

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