Do you ever struggle with the fear that you won’t belong? Anxiety may hit before attending a social gathering, applying for a part-time job, or stepping into the halls of a new school. Maybe it’s kept you from pursuing new friendships, seeking a leadership role, or trying out for a team. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone! Human beings are born with a deep need for love and belonging, which is why rejection is such a prevalent fear.
The fear that you are unworthy of love and belonging is called shame. Most of us come into contact with the voice of shame at an early age. When left unchallenged, it’s accusations can shape our identity and define our worth. Shame can take hold when you fall into bad habits or make a decision we regret.
If someone has experienced physical or emotional abandonment, shame might persuade you that you are unlovable or unwanted. In moments of rejection, shame may convince you that they are unworthy of belonging and community. After instances of abuse, personal tragedy, an unplanned pregnancy or abortion, shame will often shout accusations of being “damaged” and scare you into secrecy.
Shame can also creep into your life after a line has been crossed, especially when it comes to sex. It can take hold of our sexual history, identity, emotional baggage, and scars and spread the lie that you are broken, lost, or beyond repair.
How do we break free from the voice of shame?
Go to a quiet space and work through these four steps. Record your answers in a journal.
Identify the moment
When have you felt overwhelming shame? Did it happen after a mistake, an instance of abuse, or words of ridicule? Several occurrences may come to your mind.
Pinpoint the lie
What lie or lies took root at that moment? They could be that you are “unworthy of belonging,” “incapable of success,” or “damaged beyond repair.” How have these lies affected your life?
Rewrite the narrative
Many of us have allowed the voice of shame to dominate and define us for far too long. It’s time to take back your identity! Courageously replace each of the lies you’ve believed with the truth.
Here are some examples:
Lie: I am unwanted
Truth: Although I’ve experienced rejection, I am wanted, loved, and needed. I am worthy of friendship, community, and belonging.
Lie: I am incapable of success
Truth: In spite of the disappointments I’ve faced, I was created for great things. Because of this, I can look to the future with beautiful expectations.
Lie: I am damaged beyond repair
Truth: My past does not define my future. Although what happened to me was wrong, who I am is not wrong! I am valuable, whole, and an ambassador of healing for others.
Let someone in
Shame is bread in secrecy. Although exposing our past requires courage, it also brings great freedom. Write down the name of a friend, parent, leader, or counselor with whom you can safely share your story.
“If we share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”– Brené Brown
Shame doesn’t get the final word in your narrative. Your worth is not fragile or up for debate. You are more valuable, capable, and precious than you have yet to know.
If these statements resonate with you, we’re here for you. You can talk to us about what you’re experiencing (including post-abortion support) and learn more ways you can break free from shame.
If you think you may be pregnant and need STI testing, we can provide that too – no judgment, no shame, just the caring support you need.
All services are confidential and free of charge.