What to do When Shame holds Us Back

You know when a weight loss ad comes on the radio or that clutch of ladies start talking about those people who feed their kids too much junk food? How about the magazine cover at the dentist’s office that warns us we need to brush and floss three times a day… Many of us turn the channel, find an excuse for leaving a conversation or just ignore the magazine. 


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Sometimes it is because of disinterest, but who hasn’t felt shame, guilt, and accused when met with these pronouncements? 

It feels easier not to think about it or simply turn away.

What if the self-reproach is about something we’ve kept secret? 
What if there is dependence on alcohol or a porn obsession? 
Or what if we feel a great desire to change a behaviour, and have made great efforts but have failed miserably? 

When people have addictions, or their family member has an addiction, it sure isn’t easy to look it in the face.  Being reminded in the media or at church doesn’t always help either. 

Smoker?  Screen or gaming addictions?  Shopping and over-spending?  Gambling? Drugs?   Eeega…. It's all so destructive! Who wants to face it head on?

And yet, it must be faced. What can we do when shame is holding us back ? 

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One question I often hear when working with families struggling with attachment in their lives is, "Why can't we face this? Why are we stalling?"

People tend to look for information that confirms their beliefs rather than that which disproves them. It is quite natural. 

If we are faced with knowledge and information that demands a change in our beliefs, that can be really rough. Change isn’t easy.  It takes work.  

Humans in general are fearful of facing something that may require us to take undesired actions.  No pain, no gain, they say.  

Sometimes it is in the not knowing of what to expect.  How hard will it be?

And of course, nobody likes dealing with unpleasant emotions.  

Anger, guilt, sadness, shame, doubt, disgust and fear are all things we'd rather not experience.

It's these same emotions that stop us from coming to Jesus with our issues. It all leads to feelings of unworthiness and our fear is that we will be rejected and found to be unlovable. 


So yes, we can find ourselves avoiding help, looking away from our interior self, and ultimately, ending up “stuck” or in a state of deterioration.  That can lead to depression, pervasive sadness and isolation.

What do most people need and want?

They would embrace help if they had these guarantees:

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  • A non-judgmental person to walk with them.

  • No admonishment and preaching at them.

  • To be treated with respect and love.

  • Someone who will be gentle and kind.

  • Practical help – real, rubber-meets-the-road, strategies, tools, and guidance.

  • Encouragement and support.

It takes courage to step forward and talk about weakness, vulnerabilities, poor choices, and sin. 

The sooner we do face our need honestly, the sooner the healing begins.  I encourage anyone who is holding back to move forward in trust.  

God is good and His hand is extended to you and me to walk us through our feelings of unworthiness into His arms of love and acceptance. 

This brings healing in our own hearts which allows us to attach better to those in our family. 

I like an anonymous quote, “Ask yourself if where you are today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow?”

If you are feeling blocked or stuck, shame may be the culprit.

Take heart! Nothing is impossible with God and by His infinite grace and mercy. All of it can be looked in the eye and faced head on. 


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