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Women's Health Blog

The Nest: Sounds of Shame

ease your mind away from thoughts of shame


This summer has been very different from past summers, to say the least. Restrictions, vacations with guidelines, killer hornets, UFO video evidence releases, and finding masks that make my outfits pop.

As I sit in the passenger seat of my husband’s truck heading to a friend-filled, socially distanced event, my mind wanders. I wonder if our mini-vacations and adventures made the best of the summer time we’ve had. If all of our hours and hours of Facetime with family made them feel loved and appreciated.

When I question myself like this it can slowly turn into a series of scenarios in which self-shaming occurs. This isn’t the first time my mind has followed a quiet reflex, in an automatic and spontaneous pattern. I’ve not only fallen down this Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole at the hands of my insecurities, but also my verbalization of thoughts, decisions, and healthcare choices. Shame seems to be a big topic right now. Like my love/hate relationship with watching the Kardashians, I never realized how finely I walked the line each day between healthy self-criticism and fully bloomed self-shame.

Something to note: If the things you say to yourself are more hurtful and harsh than anything you would say to another person, you’re probably shaming yourself.

The sound of shame is my own voice. To me. About me. My strongest critic, the person who questions my words/actions/mental and physical decisions, is me. I am unsure as to when I began fighting myself? When did we start feeding Shame so much power? If you have never found yourself on the “Spectrum of Shame” at some point in your life, please share your secret of survival.

Today, I am far from fighting the heavy-weight thoughts of shame that some I know have fought and come out victorious. Nonetheless, I know I fall somewhere in the light grays of speaking critically to myself. Sometimes I brush the irritating thoughts off and other times they sink deep into my heart and make me feel less than.

I see the shaming of others on social media, in propaganda, or in the eyes of my indoor cats when I tell them for the twelfth time they are on diets - no treats allowed.  Recently, I have begun to listen to others when I hear a hint of self-shame. I’ve heard things like:

  1. “Thanks for being my friend… while I’m fat.”
  2. “I’m ____ years old, how can I care any longer about my failures?”
  3. “I’ve given up on this profession, I’m never going to be good enough.”

Just a guess that those are not even close to the statements those individuals say to themselves in the confines of their minds. If you say something similar to yourself in the privacy of your own mind, I have to challenge you and ask…

Where is the refuge in the midst of the self-shame?

Would you tolerate anyone else vocalizing those statements to you?

Summer is a difficult season, and shame worms its way into multiple scenarios. Social events, physical evaluations of yourself, and vacation expectations. Summertime is fun, but exacerbates self-shaming. So what do we do, especially in the midst of COVID?

I’ve found the sounds of shame in my head ring differently when said out loud. I have found bravery and actually laughter when I’ve told my husband and friends how I speak to myself. Disclaimer: The sarcasm and twisted humor will forever be integrated into my conversations with friends, it is why I love “my people.”

When I have told friends the shaming statements I have said to myself, those individuals push back. They rally against the shame. That is a weapon I didn’t know existed until I decided to change the sound. Turn those sounds of shame into sounds of praise, worship for your spirit. Turn the shame into the sound of your sneakers hitting the blacktop during a run, your laughter, a loving kiss, or the cooking of a healthy meal. Even better – turn those sounds into your spouse cooking you dinner!

CHANGE the sound. I am begging you, because you can’t believe everything you think. Question your thoughts, your direction of growth, bring your loyal friends and family into the discussion. They are your anti-shame warriors. You can’t fight this battle alone, considering our current worldly circumstances. You are left alone a lot lately with your own mind, let’s give our minds a work out. Your mind doesn’t know how fierce you are.

Counter those shaming thoughts with your positive accomplishments. Scoff in the face of shame. You only have time for joy, hard work, love, and dedication to a healthy mind and body. Shame is, as of today, uninvited to our lunch table. You just aren’t a fan of that sound anymore. You have recognized it, edited those notes, and created a new ballot. Sing this new, strong sound and replay it like a song you were obsessed with when you were 16. And if you forget the new sound you created, let your friends and family remind you what it sounds like.

You are done with the sounds of shame. Work on deleting them.  Play your mind a tune of self-love, and dance to that. Make room for songs of praise, love, and rock n’ roll. Happy listening.



Reba Tappan

Reba Tappan

Reba Tappan writes The Nest blog. She is mom to an adorable little boy, who she enjoys pushing in the stroller around her neighborhood with her husband. She writes about life as a working mother while navigating the journey to maintaining a mom-bod.