Shame is the inability to tolerate being known.
Before you can share yourself with others, you must first be willing to know yourself.
There’s no end to being known. Every day is new. Every day brings more ways you can know and be known.
Being willing to be known is a discipline. Sometimes the cost of being known isn’t worth the reward. Hiding seems better than facing the humiliation of being known. There are times when you won’t be ready for the exposure. That’s okay temporarily.
The more you hide, the more you remain hidden even from yourself. It’s not that you’ve forgotten who you are, but more like you’ve never given yourself a chance to understand who you are.
But hiding in shame isn’t really an option for the Christian. God won’t let you hide forever. You are salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). He calls each one of us out of hiding and into a relationship with Him, others, and our self.
The antidote to shame is being authentic. I have three practical steps you can take to practice the discipline of being known. Each step has an element of taking in (receiving) and an element of letting go (expressing).
Step 1: Study and Journal
If you struggle to tolerate being known, the least risky way to begin is keeping a private journal. Make time to write consistently. As you journal and reread your writing, you begin to see yourself from an outside perspective.
What should you write about? Read the Bible and other helpful materials that teach you who you are. Then write about what the truths stir up in your heart.
Step 2: Confide in One Person
Choose a trusted person and begin to share verbally. Practice putting into words what you’re feeling inside, entrusting your private life to another. Receive their acceptance and care.
Remember that God is a person too. Pay attention to how He speaks to you whether directly or indirectly through others.
Step 3: Share Publically and Discriminantly
Now transition to sharing with everyone you know. This doesn’t mean being an open book to everyone. Healthy people discriminate how much they share to each person. However, as you heal, you should be able to share more freely with more people.
The more you know the truth about yourself, the more you’ll know how you can contribute to others. You don’t always have to receive; eventually, you’ll know what you can give back.
Shame is difficult to overcome. It’s easy to fear the unknown. And it’s ten times harder when that unknown is you.
Where are you on your journey to overcoming shame?