Shame and Self-Distancing

Your inner critic has a name. Its name is shame, and it seeks to negatively thwart every aspect of our personal and vocational goals allowing no room for growth. Once we recognize and externalize the voice of shame, we can detach ourselves from its grip on our identity and worth. One helpful tool in discerning shame and gaining power over its effects is self-distancing. 


Self-distancing involves increasing the psychological distance from your own self-centered perspective when assessing events that you experience. What this looks like is addressing yourself in second or third person allowing you to be able to detach from emotional situations and gain an objective view. A helpful way to grow in this skill is to speak about your situation or emotions as if you were talking to a friend as most of us give great advice and affirmation to those around us but we struggle to believe it for ourselves. Visualize yourself as an outside observer, allowing for a more compassionate and growth-oriented perspective. 


Practice self-distancing when you are feeling anxious, worthless, or struggling to make a tough decision and you may find you can make more rational decisions. When shame is recognized for what it is, a debilitating, nagging voice, separate yourself from its messages and speak encouraging words, allowing for space to grow and learn from your mistakes. No one is perfect and the goal is not perfection as shame would have you think. But as long as you are learning and growing, positive change is being made.