For many people, making changes and developing new habits is hard.
Most of us will either:
- Be indecisive and feel we don’t know what change to make or habit to adopt
- Or we’ll pile too many changes on our plate at once and burnout because we go too hard too fast
- Or we’ll begin with some changes and new habits, but then give up too easily on ourselves when we fail to stay consistent
All these tendencies have one thing in common at their root and that is a sense of shame.
Shame my specialty and is the true root cause of most all sensitive, deep-feelers’ challenges in life – whether it shows up as anxiety, burnout, people-pleasing, overwhelm, self-sabotage, or more.
It’s all just different faces of shame.
Shame arises when our sense of safety, belonging, contentment, and/or joy feel threatened.
It’s an important evolutionary trait that motivates change.
However, when we internalize all of this to mean there’s something inherently shameful about ourselves, at the core, because of who we naturally are, particularly as sensitive, deep-feelers in a world that doesn’t value those traits, then this positive thing becomes harmful.
Bottom line: shame is the most likely reason you’re struggling with making new habits even though you may believe you want the new habits.
So, what to do? How to overcome this shame and honor what we truly need to do for ourselves?
Here are some steps to follow and things to consider for my dear sensitive, deep-feelers:
- For starters, be clear around your motivations for making a change and developing a new habit
- What’s motivating us to make the change in the first place – is it coming from within, or from some external cue?What’s motivating you to develop the habits you want to develop?What’s motivating you to do the particular self-care activities, hobbies, etc. that you do?And more than that, how do you feel about not doing them?Are they motivated by shame and a desire to “do more” to overcompensate for your perceived not enoughness?Have they become mechanisms of self-punishment or avenues for you to “prove” yourself?Or are they enjoyable activities that are enriching and uplifting to you – EVEN when they’re absent?
- Start simply to set yourself up for success. Small, consistent steps are the way.
- Second, be clear on your why – why do you want this?
- A good way of knowing whether something is truly serving you is to look at both how you feel while doing it AND what it gives you in its absence.If you have an activity you enjoy AND it brings a sense of fulfillment and richness to your life when you aren’t doing it, you have a winner.This could look like knowing yourself better because of doing the thing, for example, which allows you to feel more confidence and joy throughout your days.
- Let the motivation come from within yourself and let your reasons be how you want to feel from the inside.
- Third, make the thing fit into your current life
- If you feel a sense of shame or the need to punish yourself when you haven’t done the thing, rather than appreciating what it has given you and continues to give you even when you’re not actively engaged in it, then I invite you to question your motivations…Is this activity/hobby/etc. just another mechanism for self-punishment fueled by shame and a sense of not enoughness and a need to prove yourself?
- Set yourself up for success by honoring your energetic capacity, your boundaries, and what’s possible within the context of your current life.
- Lastly, keep practicing and modifying accordingly, rather than giving up on yourself
- Give yourself time to adopt new ways of being.
- You’re working against the inertia of the old ways of doing things and it may take some time for the new thing to become second nature
All along, however, it’s important to stay connected to the feeling level, the emotions, the energy, rather than being so fixated on the act of the new habit itself. Stay focused on small, consistent steps. And seek support and guidance to go further.
This is all part of what is explored in my program, The InnerSpark Method. This is a whole-person, trauma-informed approach to building resilience in sensitive, deep-feeling people so they may thrive confidently, joyfully, and shamelessly in body, mind, and spirit for life. Enrollment is open and I’d love to have you. Reach out to discuss if you’re a good fit for the program.
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