How to Overcome Shame

Masterclass with Insights from Laura Bonk (Counselor, MA, LCPC, LPC)

It’s common to experience shame after narcissistic abuse.

Shame is a feeling of embarrassment or humiliation that arises from the perception of having done something dishonorable, immoral, or improper. 

Some common thoughts you might have if you’re experiencing this are:

  • “I must be fundamentally flawed to deserve this treatment.”
  • “I’m so embarrassed by my weakness in this relationship.”
  • “I feel humiliated for not seeing the truth sooner.”
  • “I am ashamed of myself for being manipulated so easily.”
  • “It’s degrading to admit how much power they had over me.”

If you can relate to those thoughts, this masterclass could be for you.

Meet Laura Bonk.

She is a Counselor from Kansas.

Today, she will guide you through five strategies to help you overcome the challenges associated with shame.

Watch Now

  • Warning: This content discusses narcissism and narcissistic abuse. This subject may be triggering for some people. If you find yourself feeling triggered, please click here to watch our Trigger/Flashback Protocol.

If you struggle to stay focused when consuming long-form content, you’re not alone. We’ve found that listening to our content as you read the transcript is the easiest way to stay focused because the audio will keep you on pace with the text. In addition, when you do this, the information is processed by two different parts of your brain, which can give you a more comprehensive understanding and memory of the material.

Laura Bonk’s Strategies

We recommend using If/When-Then Plans to implement Laura Bonk’s advice effectively. Please click here to learn more about this research-backed approach.

First Strategy: Shame Journal

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [0:51] and rewatch Laura Bonk’s advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Resource Alert

To help you put this strategy into practice, we’ve created a shame journal template you can copy with instructions. Give it a try – it’s designed to support your journey.

Instructions:

  • Identify the Trigger: When you feel shame, note what triggered this emotion in the “Trigger” column.
  • Acknowledge Thoughts: Write down your immediate thoughts connected to the shame in the “Thoughts” column.
  • Examine Beliefs: Reflect on the core beliefs associated with these thoughts and note them in the “Beliefs” column.
  • Note Actions: In the “Actions” column, describe how these feelings of shame influence your behavior and life.

Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Second Strategy: Challenge Negative Thoughts and Beliefs

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [9:40] and rewatch Laura Bonk’s advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Resource alert

To help you put this strategy into practice, we’ve created a list of questions that help you challenge negative thoughts and beliefs and a self-composition exercise. Give them a try – it’s designed to support your journey.

10 Questions You Can Ask to Challenge Negative Thoughts and Beliefs

  • “Is this belief something I’ve internalized from someone else’s opinion of me?”
  • “Am I blaming myself for something that was beyond my control?”
  • “How much of my thought is influenced by the abusive behavior I experienced?”
  • “What would I say to a loved one who went through a similar experience?”
  • “Am I allowing someone else’s criticism to dictate my feelings of self-worth?”
  • “Am I applying negative labels to myself that were placed by the abuser?”
  • “Is it possible that I’m expecting myself to have acted perfectly in an imperfect situation?”
  • “How does this thought serve my healing and growth?”
  • “Am I 100% certain about that?”
  • “Am I focusing only on the negatives and ignoring the positives?”

Self-Compassionate Letter: Talk to Yourself Like You Would a Friend

Step 1: Reflect on Your Journal Entries

Please begin by reviewing your Shame Journal entries to identify the negative thoughts and beliefs linked to your feelings of shame.

For example, you might see that “I am so stupid. I should have seen the signs of abuse earlier and left” is a recurring negative belief you struggle with.

Step 2: Challenge It

Challenge the negative thoughts or beliefs you identified.

For example, you could ask yourself, “What advice would I give a friend who thought they were stupid for not seeing the signs of abuse earlier and leaving?”

This step is crucial because it helps you reframe your negative thoughts and beliefs into a more compassionate and realistic perspective. 

This reframing is the foundation for the third step, writing your self-compassionate letter, where you’ll address these reframed thoughts and beliefs directly to yourself.

Step 3: Start Your Letter

It is time to write a self-compassionate letter. 

Please address the letter to yourself and begin by acknowledging the feelings of shame and the associated negative thoughts and beliefs you have identified.

Pro Tip: Keep the letter in a place where you can read it whenever you need a reminder of your commitment to self-compassion.

As you write, you can follow these guidelines:

  • Counter the Negative Belief with Compassion:

    Challenge and reframe the negative belief with kindness and understanding.
  • Offer Support and Understanding:

    Affirm your strengths, resilience, and positive qualities.
  • Validate Your Feelings:

    Recognize that feeling shame is normal but doesn’t define your worth.
  • Emphasize Your Growth and Learning:

    Acknowledge how you’ve grown or what you’ve learned from your experiences.
  • Express Hope and Positivity for the Future:

    Convey a sense of hope and a positive outlook towards the future.
  • Commit to Ongoing Self-Compassion:

    Commit to continue practicing kindness and understanding towards yourself.

Here’s an example:

“Dear [Your Name],

As I reflect on my thoughts and feelings, I see how harsh I’ve been on myself. I often think, ‘I should have recognized the abuse earlier.’ 

But today, I want to offer you understanding and kindness. Realizing someone close to being narcissistic is tough. You aren’t to blame for not seeing it immediately. 

You were doing the best you could in a complex and hurtful situation. It’s okay to forgive yourself and to recognize your resilience. 

You deserve love and respect, and that starts with how you treat yourself. You’re on a path of healing, and each step, even a small one, is valuable. 

Moving forward, I commit to treating myself with the same kindness and understanding I would offer others. 

Each day, I will remind myself of this commitment and actively practice self-compassion in both my thoughts and actions.”


Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Third Strategy: Opposite Action Intervention

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [20:50] and rewatch Laura Bonk’s advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Fourth Strategy: Get Support

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [31:12] and rewatch Laura Bonk’s advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Resource Alert

To help you put this strategy into practice, we’ve created a quick checklist. Give it a try – it’s designed to support your journey.

Rate each item on a scale from 0 to 2, where:

  • 0 points: The statement doesn’t apply to the person (No)
  • 1 point: The statement sometimes applies to the person (Sometimes)
  • 2 points: The statement always applies to the person (Yes)

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • Listen Actively: Do they attentively listen, making you feel understood and valued?
  • Validate Your Experiences: Do they acknowledge and accept your experiences as valid, helping you trust your feelings and perceptions?
  • Educate You About Narcissistic Abuse: Do they offer valuable information about narcissistic abuse patterns, helping you understand that you’re not to blame for the abuser’s actions?
  • Encourage Self-Care: Do they promote self-care and stress management, enabling you to regain control over your physical and emotional health?
  • Help Set Healthy Boundaries: Are they supportive in helping you establish personal boundaries, contributing to your autonomy and self-worth?
  • Offer Practical Support: Do they provide tangible assistance, offering you stability and showing that they’re willing to support you in real ways?
  • Provide a Safe Space: Do they create a non-judgmental environment where you can freely express your thoughts and feelings?
  • Help Rebuild Your Self-Esteem: Are they instrumental in helping you rebuild your self-esteem, enabling you to develop a healthy self-image?
  • Help Build a Support System: Do they encourage you to establish a wider network of support consisting of therapists, support groups, and trustworthy friends and family members?
  • Remind You of Your Value: Do they consistently affirm your worth, counteracting the negative messages from your abusive relationship and reinforcing your self-esteem?

After you’ve scored each item, add up your scores for a total of 20. A higher score suggests the individual is more supportive:

  • 16-20: This person is extremely supportive.
  • 11-15: This person is moderately supportive.
  • 6-10: This person is somewhat supportive, there is room for improvement.
  • 0-5: This person needs to be more supportive in your current situation.

Remember, this isn’t science. It’s just a checklist. So please take the scores you get with a grain of salt.


Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Fifth Strategy: Ritual Reprogramming

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [37:26] and rewatch Laura Bonk’s advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Resource Alert

To help you put this strategy into practice, we’ve created a ritual reprogramming template with instructions. Give it a try – it’s designed to support your journey.

Instructions:

1.) Choose Your Level:

  • Beginner: Find 1-5 pieces of evidence.
  • Intermediate: Find 5-10 pieces of evidence.
  • Advanced: Find 10-15 pieces of evidence.

2.) Identify Negative Beliefs:

From your Shame Journal, select the negative belief(s) you want to focus on for the day.

3.) Find Contradictory Evidence:

For each belief, list evidence that contradicts it. 

For example, let’s say your negative belief is:

“I am always to blame for conflicts in relationships.”

Contradictory evidence would be:

“A friend witnessed an argument I had and said I did not provoke it.”

4.) Choose Your Time:

You can perform this exercise anytime. But for the best results, try to do it in the morning (within an hour after waking up) or in the evening (an hour before going to sleep).

5.) Reflect:

Reflect on the contradictory evidence and allow yourself to absorb and understand how this evidence challenges your negative beliefs.

6.) Repeat for 21 Days:

Continue this practice daily for 21 days to aid in reprogramming your thought patterns.

7.) Note Progress:

At the end of each week, briefly reflect on any changes in your perception or feelings towards these beliefs.

Pro Tip: Keep this sheet in a place where you’ll see it as part of your morning or evening routine to remind you to complete the exercise.


Deeper Dive

Laura Bonk highlighted the importance of overcoming negative core beliefs while explaining this strategy. Here’s a masterclass that will help you do this.

Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Closing Remarks

Thank you for watching this masterclass!

We hope you found it informative and empowering.

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Take care and see you next time.

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