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Standing Up to Shame

There is a part of me that feels defective.  This part of me feels like there’s this separation between me and the rest of the world.  Like the world can be divided between the good and the bad, and because I generally have an open-minded and accommodating nature, I see the rest of the world on the good side and myself alone on the other.

I wish it were true what I say — that there is a “part” of me that feels defective. The truth is that when you feel defective, it’s not a part. It’s your core.

I don’t know where this feeling started.  But I can list many circumstances in which I, possibly erroneously, thought I saw it reflected back to me in the opinions and estimations of other people.

In the curious looks.  In the harsh words.  In the judgments or the criticisms or the rejections.

It would be nice to look out at the world and see all of the people who love me.  To focus on the words of support and affirmation. To see the traits others enjoy in me.  To feel respect.

But our perceptions are mirrors of our beliefs, and if I’m stuck in that place of defectiveness, that’s the reel that plays over in my head.

I look out into the world and I see the beauty in people around me. I see the infinite worth in even those who feel the most worthless. I want to scream and I want to shake these people and I want to tell them.

“You are worth it.”

“You are good enough.”

Don’t listen to the mouths that only speak criticism.  Don’t feel the judgments of those who don’t respect you.

Say “no” to the people who call themselves your friend and yet tear you down at every chance.

Say “no” to the man or the woman who treats your body as property to be used or abused.

Turn away from those who want to define you or defile you or demean you or break you.

So many moments of so many days, I feel irrevocably defective.

But then I step back, and I remember that a) we were all created with inherent worth, and b) we are all broken because we all live in a broken world.

I can’t heal the broken hearts. I can’t erase the bad memories or neutralize the hateful words.

I can’t fix the world.

But what we all can do is fix our own broken parts.  We can absolutely refuse to believe we are less than good.  We can insist on our own dignity and worth and expect the respect that is rightfully ours.

We can treat others as they deserve to be treated and expect no less in return.

We can’t heal a broken world, but by focusing on acceptance and kindness and gentleness, in ourselves every bit as much as in others, we can start to heal a little corner of it.

Sometimes I wish I could go back and stand up to people who I used to cower before.  I wish I could insist that my dignity be respected.

But I can’t.  And I really don’t need to.

All I need to do now is show myself the respect I deserve and then dwell in that respect.

Because we are all worth so much. More than we possibly could understand.  And this world would be infinitely more gentle if we all just treated ourselves a bit more like we treat others.

Fighter image via Shutterstock.

Standing Up to Shame

Amanda Knapp

Amanda Knapp is a mother, wife, writer, former writing teacher, and lover of the written word. She writes for Psych Central, Mothering, Catholic 365, and her own blog, .

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APA Reference
Knapp, A. (2016). Standing Up to Shame. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Mar 2016
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