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The Art of Letting Go: The Shame You Carry

ManualMarinShame is something that most people know a thing or two about. Whether it’s over a single event, a time period of your life, or a wide range of circumstances, shame can attach to you in a way that is difficult to let go. It can stunt your personal growth and prevent you from moving forward in many ways. I recently wrote about a time period in my life that was once locked away due to the shame that I felt.

Shame attaches to the small voice in your head; the one that tells you that you are alone, that you aren’t enough, or that you will be judged harshly. We all have moments when this side of ourselves tries to break free and gain the upper hand. When we give it too much attention or validation, it can hold on to the times in our life that caused us to struggle or feel pain. It truly is a difficult cycle to break because the more shame we feel, the stronger that voice becomes, and so on it continues.

The funny thing about shame is that it doesn’t respond to reason. For my own struggle with a postpartum disorder, I knew that it wasn’t something I should be ashamed of or something that I needed to keep hidden. Professionally, I’ve spoken to other women who struggled in this area, and I told them all of the words that I tried telling myself. That it wasn’t my fault, that many women face this demon, and that it doesn’t make me a ‘bad’ mom. But still, it lingered and it took hold. Shame creates a disconnect between mind, heart, and soul.

You see, when you keep something locked away, it lives in darkness. And this darkness only serves to strengthen the negativity and solidify it as a piece of your being. Many times, the best way to banish these feelings is to release them and to speak the truth you’ve kept secret. The more light and awareness you bring to the situation, the less strength it has to tie you down. It can be terrifying to open up a piece of your past and to tell people about an event or choice you aren’t proud of, but many times in life the most difficult words to say are the ones that need to be spoken. Shame lives where secrets lie.

If you are holding onto shame, living in a past memory, I hope that you can hear the truth in these words:
You are more than a single incident, decision or event.
You are more than a past pain or disappointment.
By forgiving yourself you are not making light of your memory or excusing a poor decision, you instead are making the choice to move forward.
You are making the choice to learn from your past and to grow stronger in the midst of pain.
You are choosing to allow more light into your life so that your future has the opportunity to occur without restriction.
You are making more room in your heart for love, laughter and joy.

The Art of Letting Go: The Shame You Carry

Amy Bellows, PhD

Amy Bellows holds a PhD in Psychology and has had the opportunity to work in various settings including leading adolescent group therapy sessions, working with victims of sexual assault, helping woman inmates adjust to post-prison life, conducting parenting education classes and assisting with drug and alcohol dependency treatment plans. The unique challenges and opportunities that come along with being a part of a step-family is a special interest of hers. Amy is currently working in the corporate environment with a interest in group dynamics and change management. You can find her on her website, or on Twitter @AmyBellowsPhD.

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APA Reference
Bellows, A. (2016). The Art of Letting Go: The Shame You Carry. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 Apr 2016
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