How to Talk About Shame and Ask for Help

When you’re feeling shame, it seems impossible to talk about. The very nature of shame makes you want to cover up your feelings, which can increase your sense of shame over time and leave you feeling trapped.

I understand how you feel, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can talk about shame in a way that helps you connect with others. You can get help with feelings of shame so that you’re not stuck in a cycle of emotions that damage your self-worth and leave you hating yourself.

The “What” of Shame

The first step to talking about shame is knowing what to say. Besides “ashamed”, think about what else you’re feeling and try to put words to it. Do you feel any of these feelings that go hand-in-hand with shame?

  • Humiliation: “I can’t believe I did that. My actions were shameful. I’m so embarrassed.”
  • Self-Hate: “I hate myself for the mistakes I’ve made. I don’t deserve to be loved or forgiven.”
  • Despair: “I’m never going to be able to make things right. Things are only going to get worse.”
  • Fear: “I don’t want anyone to know I did/said/thought this. If they did, they wouldn’t respect me or want to be around me anymore. I’d better keep it to myself.”

Shame is more than one emotion. Thinking about how shame makes you feel can better prepare you to talk about it in a way that allows others to support you more fully.

The “Why” of Shame

It can also help to understand why you feel shame. Your life doesn’t happen in a bubble. If you’re feeling deep shame, it is likely related to other struggles you’re having.

You may feel excessive shame when:

When I think back to times when I’ve felt ashamed, I can often find some clues for how to how to talk through it.

When It’s Time to Talk

When you feel like you have a better understanding of when and why you feel shame, it’s time to talk about it. Talking about shame doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the more simple and straightforward you are, the clearer your needs will be to someone who can help you.

You can talk about shame with your counselor, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or a leader in your faith community. Whoever you choose, make sure it’s someone you trust to keep your conversation in confidence. Make sure they are able to help you address the problems that are leading to feelings of shame.

TheHopeLine has been helping more and more people break free of shame and lead lives of greater self-worth. Talk to a HopeCoach about shame anytime. It’s confidential and they have experience helping people get to the other side of shame. We are here for you and you don’t have to go through this alone.

Do you sometimes feel worthless? The answer to having deep-rooted self-worth is to understand how God views you. Find out more here.

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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