Silence the Voice Shame

They said he would come after me and they were right. He was waiting outside as I hesitantly emerged from the high school girls’ locker room. I was relieved to see a group of people there. Someone was sure to step in if they saw a seventeen-year-old boy harming a fourteen-year-old girl.

It all started a few days earlier when I said something to a mutual “friend” about a young man’s looks. It was a naïve, but derogatory, comment that my “friend” reported to him. I heard that he was going to confront me about it and put me in my place.

As I took a few steps out of the dark locker room into the brightness of that sunny day, this tough guy greeted me with a full-handed slap across my right cheek. I was totally shocked and in intense pain.  As stunning as the assault was that no one lifted their voice or a finger to help me. I was alone, in pain and publicly humiliated. I heard no one defending me. The only voice I heard was the sinister voice of shame.

The Impact of Shame

The voice of shame tells us that we are something bad. It is different from the guilt that we feel when we do something bad. Shame may accompany guilt for a while and that is normal. But feelings of shame can linger long after an incident is over. Even after we have confessed and turned from our sin, if that was the issue. We can also feel a sense of embarrassment and shame for no apparent reason.

Shame can create an insatiable desire for approval. It provokes us to perform to please others. It keeps us from reporting our abusers. It causes us to fear exposure and rejection. Shame robs us of the joy of forgiveness. It can dominate our thoughts, shutting out the loving voice of the Holy Spirit. Shame has done all this to me, so I know how it operates.

The Story of My Shame

I started to believe that I was not good enough when I was a child. My dad was easily angered and did not allow opinions contrary to his. My four siblings teased me as the baby of the family. My peers criticized my looks, and I was always nearly the last to be chosen when teams were picked. Boys that I liked rejected me. Then that older boy slapped me, and no one stepped in. I could go on.

Early in my life I decided that something must be inherently wrong with me. Maybe you came to the same conclusion about yourself. That was shame talking to us.

Shame did not stop there in my life. After being married for only a few months when I was twenty-one, my new husband decided he was done with marriage, so I was out. Angry and hurt, I then pursued nearly any guy who would bother with me, even virtual strangers.

I know now that shame’s voice is what lured me into that dark place. I had given up on being loved and accepted, so I settled for the fleeting pleasure of being used for a while. I ended up with a stack of shame a mile high and very little hope.

But God graciously met me in that valley of despair. He loved me into his arms where I have found acceptance and comfort throughout the many years since. But shame still screams at me from time to time tempting me to listen to its lies.

Silence the Voice of Shame

A New Identity

A few days after that young man hit me when I was a freshman in high school, my older brother, who was a senior, enlisted a couple of his friends and confronted him about it. He never bothered me again. Knowing my big brother stood up for me helped to dull the sting of my shame.

Jesus is a loving big brother to those who put their faith in him. He stood up for us against shame on the cross and provides a way out of it for good. (Hebrews 2:11-15) But we must lay hold of that deliverance. One of the first steps to doing so is to deny what shame says and believe God instead.

The Bible is full of the good things God says about us. But those encouraging words can be hard to accept when we have listened to the degrading voice of shame all our lives. Sometimes pride can tempt us to hold onto our old familiar, shame-filled identity. We may get some strange pleasure out of feeling sorry for ourselves over the bad things we have experienced.

But if we humble ourselves, let go of the past and choose to believe God’s voice, we will hear about a wonderful, new identity. The identity that he gives us as his loved, honored, and accepted child.

Start to Silence Shame

God changes and heals us by many means: prayer, worship, fellowship and his Word. I believe that the Bible is the most reliable and stable of these. It is a rock that never changes. (Matthew 7:24) Meditating on it teaches us who God is and who we are. It lowers the volume of shame and increases the volume of the love of God.

Here are just a few simple but powerful, biblical truths we can meditate on to begin to silence shame:

  • I am not ashamed. God says he removes the shame of my youth. (Isaiah 54:4)
  • I do not have to hide from others. God invites me to hide in him and be safe. (Psalm 32:7)
  • I am not rejected. God gladly chooses me and loves me. (Colossians 3:12)
  • I am not dirty. God says I am completely clean. (Ephesians 5:26)

Shame is cruel. It belittles us and whispers that we are substandard. It sneers at us and makes us want to hide. Shame has a loud voice, but it does not have the last word.

10 Things to Say to Preschoolers to Give Them Courage and Confidence

If you know preschool children, you know that they naturally love to explore and discover. That’s one of the things that make them so lovable.

Everything with them is new and exciting.

10 Things to Say to Preschoolers 1

But they can quickly lose this sense of adventure when they encounter challenging, unfamiliar situations unless they have grownups around them who coach them through and show them they can do it!

It’s a scary thought, but the way we communicate with our children in these sensitive moments could be the key to their sense of self-confidence for the rest of their lives.

If we are equipped with what to say in sensitive, childhood learning moments as well as everyday moments, we are preparing to launch brave, happy, confident people into the world.

In the first 5 years, many vital milestones occur in children.

Psychologist Erik Erikson developed a theory about stages of human psychosocial development. The first three stages he explains are from infancy through the preschool years.

The first stage is Trust vs. Mistrust

Caretakers, by their treatment of a child under the age of two, teach the child that people are trustworthy or not. This gives the child a basic sense of security or insecurity.

The second stage is Autonomy vs. Shame

This stage takes place up to about four years of age. A child raised well in the first years will develop a sense of assurance, control and independence.

The third stage is Initiative vs. Guilt

In this stage, through the preschool years, the child learns to engage in imaginative play, cooperate with others, lead and follow well.

When fear and shame are predominant emotions, the child will instead be restricted in play skills, may hang back and not participate with others and continue earlier levels of extreme dependence on the parent.

If you’d like to read more about the psychosocial stages, you can buy his book, The Lifecycle Completed, by clicking this link. (By the way, as an Amazon associate, I earn with purchases at no extra charge to you).

If the adults in a child’s life can foster security, self-assurance and courage in children, we will be setting them up for future success.

10 Things to Say to Preschoolers

to Give Them Courage and Confidence

Here are 10 major areas where we can affirm, encourage and instruct our children.

If we use phrases like these in these early years, preschoolers will develop the courage and confidence to move out into their new adventures knowing they have what it takes!

1Security – let them know they are safe – it’s the foundation for their growing independence.

Say this: You are safe. Mommy and Daddy love you and will always take good care of you.

2 – Confidence – remind them of past successes and assure them they can succeed in new circumstances.

Say this: You can do this! Remember when you went to the play group and did great?

3Individuality – let them know they are unique and specially gifted.

Say this: You are such a friendly kid! You’ll be good at making new friends.

4 – Support – let them know you will always be rooting for them.

Sat this: No matter what, I will always be there when you need me.

5Emotions – let them know that their feelings are normal and then help them work through them.

Say this: I can see you’re feeling angry right now. I can understand why. It’s hard for us when we don’t get what we want.

6Choices – Even when they can’t have what they want, making a choice gives them a sense of freedom and power.

Say this: We’re not having candy right now. You may have cheese or apple slices. Which would you prefer?

7Responsibility – let them know that their choices have consequences.

Say this: You can get your blocks out, but you will need to put them away when you’re done.

8 – Creativity – let them know their special, unique creativity is noticed and appreciated. Pick out one or two particular aspects of their work and praise them for it.

Say this: I love the combination of colors you chose for the feathers in your painting.

9 – Character – let them know when you see their positive character traits. We often only acknowledge misbehavior. Catch your kids acting right and point it out.

Say this: You were very kind to share your favorite toy.

10 – Worthiness – let them know that what they do and who they are is worth your time and attention, even if you can’t stop everything and pay attention right now.

Say this: I really want to see your tower of blocks. It’s important to me. I’ll come take a look at it in (5) minutes.

 

Here are some books and add-ons that help preschool children with a positive self-concept. Click on the title for more information.

Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. Helps kids face new and sometimes scary situations with confidence.

Whatif Monster Plush Toy Companion to the book, this stuffed Whatif Monster is for kids to tell their fears and worries to.

Cordelia by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. Lets kids know they are capable.

Cordelia Doll Companion to Cordelia story to remind kids that they can do it like Cordelia did!

I Love You Hoo by Rachel Bright. Sweet read aloud expressing love for children just the way they are.

You Are A Star by Ariella Abolaffio. Encouraging read aloud to instill a positive sense of self.

Here are some books to help grownups understand and communicate better with their kids. Click on the title for more information.

The Lifecycle Completed, by Erik H. Erikson. Understanding child development is important to parenting.

How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7, by Joanna Faber and Julie King. Teaches parents positive communication skills that will get results.

Preschoolers Are Ready and Willing Adventurers and We Can Help

Preschool children love to venture out and try new things, but they need grownups around them that give them a strong foundation and cheer them on as they go.

The messages we send them, verbal or otherwise, become the foundation upon which they build their sense of self for a lifetime.

Children are subconsciously asking these questions all the time:

Am I safe?

Am I lovable?

Am I important?

Am I enough?

Let’s do everything in our power to make sure that they can answer those questions with a big “Yes”!

What are some of the ways that you instill confidence in your kids? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post, please share and follow. Thanks!