shame in conflict situations

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    Hi all!

    Hope every one is well. I have been around and reading as usual but posting after a while. These days in both my relationship and my work I have been struggling  with expressing my needs. When ever I express a need or express dissatisfaction I feel so much shame and guilt that it becomes unbearable, I feel as I have exposed my core somehow and that people will judge me and think I am creating unnecessary drama. As an example, at work a development that impacted my future employment prospects was not communicated to me, I asked to be updated but my tone was terse and since then I have been feeling bad about my tone even though I know my request was reasonable. I don’t know how to be comfortable expressing myself. Would appreciate y’alls wisdom :).

    With warmth,



    Hi M,

    Are you sure it is shame? I usually feel regret. And it seems to be the case for you too – as you’ve described it – I feel as I have exposed my core somehow and that people will judge me – you regret because you feel it might disrupt your dynamic with them. By shifting from who you usually are, you worry that they might discover something they don’t like.

    It is not unreasonable to express what you need. Any relationship that experiences strain when you express yourself needs strengthening or needs to be left behind, by which i mean if other people are truly bothered by you expressing yourself reasonably, they are going to hold you prisoner of their feelings, and you feel stifled. And mostly importantly don’t imprison your own freedom of expression in exchange for being liked or not being judged.

    Also who cares if someone judges you. Anyone that does not truly suffer consequences of your actions does not get to dictate how you act and they should not be given that power. There will always be someome displeased with you, you just live your life the way you want to.

    To overcome guilt, shame or regret – firstly be ok with someone not liking you. And second, do it often enough so your mind gets used to it and realizes oh this person will not stop, i might as well join their team and empower them. Right now your mind is in a state of submissiveness, in this state naturally assertiveness feels uncomfortable. Slowly ease yourself into it, and accept the discomfort, one of the greatest feelings you can experience is when you speak up for yourself and become your biggest ally.





    Hi greenshade,

    If you think your work or your relationship will disappear by a mere tone of your voice… LET THEM! And we’ll celebrate!

    The best parts about speaking up (there are so many):

    1. It gives them the optical illusion that you are a strong entity. An entity who matters. An entity that doesn’t fear being fired or broken up with. An entity who fully expects to have her needs met.

    2. Every time you speak up it gets easier and easier.

    3. If someone dares fire or dump you they will quickly realize that you are hard to replace. They will see you galivanting around in a new, better job/relationship.

    4. If/when someone asks why they fired/dumped you they will say, “I didn’t like her tone” and sound like an idiot.



    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by Inky.

    Hi both,

    Thank you for your kind replies!

    Gj, It might be a mix of both shame and regret. I agree that I feel like I am stepping outside the roll prescribed for me when I express my needs- who am I to speak up? is what my brain says. I wish I could accept a more assertive me. Thanks thou, for validating that my needs are important.

    Inky, I can read your words and realize that in an ideal world that is how I would like to feel. It is difficult for me to internalize them however, or think or feel that way. The thing is, I know I’m on to a good thing with both my job and my relationship so I do not want to lose them and want to thrive in both, but my fear of rocking the boat, and having others notice me or my needs, or not be receptive to what I have to say makes me stay silent and then second guess and doubt my own concerns until I feel like I’m imagining things, (I basically gas light myself) , and then I cant raise issues with any conviction or confidence. I don’t really know how to stop doing this, or getting to the place of feeling like I believe the things you have said. Thank you for saying them anyway <3.




    Check out the Non-Violent Communication process originated by Marshall Rosenberg.  He talks about making requests coming out of our universal needs and feelings.  This will give you a structure on how to do so.

    Insofar as feeling fear when you do communicate your request based on your legitimate needs that seems something about learning how to love and honor yourself.  It is how you learn to acknowledge that your request is as valid as anyone else’s.

    There is a maxim that we either come from fear or love.  It starts with loving yourself.  You are behaving from the fear of people not liking you/your behavior.  That is an assumption.  You are already anticipating that you will be viewed negatively from those around you.

    This sounds like you were raised with that.  anita here is very good at uncovering people’s origins of their pain.  It usually comes from Family-of-Origin.  Usually the “cure” is getting therapeutic help, at least as part of the solution.



    Hi Greenshade

    I like what L.B. Smedes said about shame

    If you persistently feel you don’t measure up, you are feeling shame—that vague, undefined heaviness that presses on our spirit, dampens our gratitude for the goodness of life, and diminishes our joy…. Most shame we experience and take on is undeserved.

    “Shame is heavy; grace is light. Shame and grace are the two counterforces in the human spirit: shame depresses; grace lifts. Shame is like gravity, a psychic force that pulls us down. Grace is like levitation, a spiritual force that defies gravity. If our spiritual experience does not lighten our life, we are not experiencing grace. . . .

    “The lightness of grace does not lift all the sandbags that drag the spirit down. It lightens life by removing one very dead weight in particular—the weight of anxiety about being an unacceptable person. Grace gives us courage to track down the sources of unhealthy shame, see it for the undeserved pain it is, and take steps to purge our lives of it completely. It sets loose the lightest feeling of life; being accepted; totally, unreservedly accepted. . . .

    “I believe that the only self I need to measure up to is the self my Maker meant me to be.

    “I believe that I am accepted by the grace without regard to my deserving.

    “I believe that I am accepted along with my shadows and the mix of good and bad I breed in them.

    “I believe that I am worthy to be accepted.

    “I believe that grace has set me free to accept myself totally, and without conditions, though I do not approve of everything I accept.

    “I believe that nothing I deserve to be ashamed of will ever make me unacceptable.

    “I believe that I can forgive anyone who has ever infected me with shame I do not deserve.

    “I believe that I may forgive myself for anything that I have ever done to shame myself or another person.

    “I am gratefully proud of being who I am and what I shall be.

    “I believe that the grace heals the shame I do not deserve and heals the shame I do.

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