Overcoming Shame: 5 Suggestions for Teens & Young Adults
Shame is an emotion that can become toxic and create a host of negative emotions and beliefs about oneself. For teenagers and young adults, it can be particularly difficult to overcome as they navigate the challenges of the teen years and early adulthood.
However, there are tips that can help teenagers and young adults to overcome shame and move towards feeling more confident and self-assured. In this blog post, we will explore some tips on how teenagers and young adults can overcome shame. And we will explain the difference between guilt and shame.
We will also suggest the importance of seeing a therapist who specializes in teen therapy or young adult counseling should the shame take hold and cause challenges like depression, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, and other challenges.
What is Shame?
Shame is an emotion that is often confused with guilt. While guilt is generally defined as feeling remorse or regret over something you have done wrong, shame is a feeling of inadequacy or unworthiness about who you are as a person. The two emotions are distinct and require different strategies for overcoming them.
Shame can be triggered by a variety of situations, such as making a mistake, experiencing rejection, or feeling like you don't measure up to others. It can be compounded with negative self-talk and self-criticism, which can further damage self-esteem and create a cycle of shame.
Guilt leads a person to correcting the mistake they made. Guilt is, "I made a mistake". Shame often leads to internalizing the mistake and becomes "I am a mistake".
As shame is left to fester, it can take root and impact our self-worth in significant ways. Shame is often the root cause of things like depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional challenges.
So how can a teenager or young adult overcome the effects of shame in their lives? Here we provide some suggestions based on our clinical experience.
5 Suggestions for Overcoming Shame as a Teenager or Young Adult
Shame does not have to rule your life and impact your relationships with yourself and others. While it can become toxic, there are proven strategies to help rid your life of shame.
Suggestion #1 - Identify Shame Triggers
The first step in overcoming shame is to identify what triggers it in the first place. Once you can recognize what situations or behaviors make you feel shame, you can begin to work on changing those thoughts or actions.
Some common shame triggers for teenagers and young adults include:
Social media comparison
Take time to reflect on when you feel shame and what specifically is triggering it. Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal to gain a better understanding of how shame affects you personally.
Suggestion #2 - Practice Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is an important tool for overcoming shame. It involves treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and empathy, instead of harsh self-criticism.
When you experience shame, try to respond to yourself as you would to a friend. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes and has flaws, and that these do not define your worth as a person.
One technique for practicing self-compassion is to talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend. Ask yourself, "what would I say to a friend who was feeling this way?" Then, use that same language to talk to yourself.
If shame was a living, breathing creature, self-compassion starves shame and over time will help it to die off. Practice, practice, practice self-compassion.
Suggestion #3 - Reframe Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk is a common symptom of shame. It involves criticizing yourself and focusing on your flaws or mistakes. This kind of thinking can be detrimental to your self-esteem and lead to a cycle of shame.
To overcome negative self-talk, try to reframe your thoughts in a positive light. For example, if you make a mistake, don't think "I'm so stupid," instead, think "I made a mistake, but I can learn from it and do better next time." Pay attention to the way you talk to yourself and try to correct negative thoughts as they arise.
Suggestion #4 - Focus on Your Strengths
Shame often makes us focus on our weaknesses or perceived flaws. To counteract this, try to focus on your strengths and positive qualities.
Consider the things you enjoy doing or are good at and celebrate those accomplishments. Keep a list of your personal strengths and refer to it when you need a reminder of your worth.
Suggestion #5 - Seek Help from a Teen Therapist or Young Adult Counselor
Finally, if you are struggling with shame or other emotional difficulties, it may be helpful to seek professional help from a therapist who specializes in teen therapy or young adult counseling. A therapist can provide a safe and supportive environment in which to explore your feelings and work on overcoming shame. They can also teach you coping strategies and provide guidance on how to develop a more positive self-image.
Finding a teen therapist or young adult counselor can be a daunting task, but there are resources available to help. You can start by asking your primary care physician for recommendations, or by looking for therapists in your area who specialize in working with teens or young adults.
For example, if you live in the Katy, Texas area, some search keywords you can use to find a therapist include "teen therapist," "teen counselor," "young adult therapist," "young adult counselor," and "young adult counseling,".
There are Answers & A Pathway Forward Through Shame
Shame can be a difficult emotion to overcome, but it is possible with practice and patience. By identifying shame triggers, practicing self-compassion, reframing negative self-talk, focusing on strengths, and seeking professional help, teenagers and young adults can begin to move past shame and towards a more positive self-image.
Remember that everyone experiences shame at some point, and that it is a normal part of the human experience. With the right tools and support, it is possible to overcome shame and live a fulfilling life.
Teens are going through a lot of internal changes, when that mixes with external stressors it can be hard to cope and build a lot of anxiety in teens. Young adults are experiencing significant life changes transitioning from a teenager to being an adult with adult responsibilities.
Having a counselor to draw on for support, guidance, and tools can make all the difference in overcoming shame.
Sugar Land Teen & Family Counseling in Sugar Land, TX: Helping Teens & Young Adults Overcome Shame
While everyone experiences shame in their lives, we all experience it a little differently from one another, there is a common thread that runs throughout shame and that is the toll it can take on a person's happiness. You don't have to live with shame any longer.
Contact Sugar Land Teen & Family Counseling
Talk with one of our caring therapists
Begin the healing process today!
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Sugar Land Teen & Family Counseling
At Sugar Land Teen & Family Counseling, we provide a variety of therapy approaches that are supported by research and shown to be effective. Some of the teen therapy and young adult counseling we offer are:
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Group Therapy for Teens
Teen Social Anxiety
Teen Panic Attacks
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Couples Therapy & Marriage Counseling
Couples Therapy and Marriage Counseling can be very effective. The secret ingredient to success is each person willing to look at themselves and work to do things differently, together. When a marriage counselor or couples therapist has this to work with, the success rate can be very high.
Sometimes life will throw challenges at us that create situations that put strain on our marriage or relationship. It may be due to:
Choices and actions that have been made by one partner.
Financial downturn in the economy creating financial strain.
Feeling like you're growing apart.
Feeling like you don't have as much in common as you used to.