It’s Time to Put Your Shame Back Where it Belongs

I was raised in a very religious setting.  I learned many wonderful things from going to church, and I think I turned into a pretty awesome human.  Many of my awesome traits were cultivated at church and in youth groups, or at home with religious teachings.  Many good things can come from religion.  And yet…

…I also developed a lot of shame.

Shame is often used to manipulate and control people into doing what you want them to.  And let me tell you, I was a GOOD GIRL!!  I did what was asked of me, and tried to follow all the rules.  We were taught that there were different levels of obedience (or good-ness), and I wanted to be the BEST!  You had to be the best to get into the best part of heaven.  Everyone wants to be in the best part of heaven right?!  And when everyone knows the rules for making it to the top, you end up with a highly judgemental group of people.  This judgment of each other was actually taught as “righteous judgment”, as if there was a way we could do the job of God in judging each other.  So I knew that if I didn’t do what was expected of me everyone would be judging me.  I knew this because I was also judging others.  It was literally what we were taught to do.

I used to believe that the circumstances in my life (rules, other people’s actions or thoughts about me) were causing my feelings.  I did not know until my adult years that our circumstances do not cause our feelings. It’s our THOUGHTS that cause our FEELINGS!  Stay with me here for a moment, this is important.

There are circumstances in our lives that we can not control, like the weather and other people’s behavior.  They are neutral.  They don’t mean anything until we have a thought about them.  That means that the really annoying thing your partner or friend does that drives you so crazy is in fact totally neutral until you attach a thought to it.  Your thought then creates a feeling.  Your feelings drive your actions, and your actions create your results.  Our results are directly tied to our thoughts, NOT our circumstances.  We call this order of how the universe works, “The Model.”

Let me give you an example.  Anything that comes out of someone’s mouth is a Circumstance (C).  Let’s say someone tells you, “Your shorts need to be to your knee, otherwise you will cause men to have sexual thoughts about you.”  That is a neutral C.  Then you have a Thought (T) about it that might be something like, “What I wear determines how others think about me!”  This T then creates a Feeling (F).  You might feel Anxious.  From this F of anxious your Actions (A) might be: wear long shorts or pants, stay away from men, watch men’s eyes when they are around you, think about everything you wear before you get dressed, change clothes depending on who you are around, not buy the clothes you really like, dislike your body and try to keep it covered at all times, and more.  The Result (R) from this model is that what you wear is affecting how YOU think about yourself.  The R is directly tied to your T.

Here’s what it looks like when I write it out as a life coach:

C- (person) says “Your shorts need to be to your knee, otherwise you will cause men to have sexual thoughts about you.”

T-What I wear determines how others think about me


A-wear long shorts or pants, stay away from men, watch men’s eyes when they are around you, think about everything you wear before you get dressed, change clothes depending on who you are around, not buy clothes you want to, dislike your body and try to keep it covered at all times

R-what you wear is affecting how YOU think about yourself.

The reason it is important to really understand where your thoughts and feelings come from is so you take back full control of your life, and start choosing thoughts that serve you, and create the life you really want.  However, this example I shared is not the only possible outcome. You really can create ANYTHING you want in your life!   Amazing things happen when you just change the T line.  I’ll show you how even if the C line doesn’t change, by changing the T you will have a totally different result.

New Model:

C- (person) says “Your shorts need to be to your knee, otherwise you will cause men to have sexual thoughts about you.”

T- Men get to own their own thoughts and they have nothing to do with how I dress.


A-wear the clothes you want, dress appropriate for the weather, change clothes when you WANT, not because of who you are around, buy clothes that are comfortable, hold others accountable for their thoughts and actions, love yourself and your body

R-You live an authentic life, taking responsibility for yourself, and not others.

Note that the Circumstance did not have to change, only the Thought.  One of the reasons this was problematic for me as a youth was that I had been taught to defer decisions to adult male leaders.  I was not taught to think for myself.  And when you are taught that you are bad for going against what adult men say, and you are a “good girl” like I was, you are going to do everything they say.  It’s a control tactic and it works very well in the religious environment I was in.

And of course because we were taught to defer to men, the girls and boys in the youth programs were treated differently.  A couple summers ago I allowed my teen daughter and my teen son to attend church youth camps.  The girls were instructed that they needed to dress in long shorts that went to the knee, and that leggings were not allowed.  Because leggings are too tight, and “sexual”.  Y’all, this is at an ALL GIRLS summer camp.  Oh wait, there were 4-5 adult men there watching over the camp as “security.”  So what I’m hearing is that these 100 or so girls all need to dress in a certain way so that these 5 men don’t have sexual thoughts about the girls.  In leggings?!?!?  Listen, if these men can’t control their thoughts around teen girls in leggings, then they are pedofiles and do not belong anywhere around these girls.

A couple weeks after girls camp, while the boys were at camp, leaders sent pictures to the parents with captions like, “all the boys having a blast.”  And guess what, in the photos there were boys without their shirts on.  Why?  Because it was August, and it was hot.  And that was ok.  Yet the girls are expected to be completely covered, no matter the weather.  It’s absolutely ridiculous.  

So here’s what I think more people need to do: they need to give “the church” (or any organization) back its Models.  What I mean by that, you can do your own independent thinking and really think about what you are being told, and then you can hand the shame models back to the church.  Don’t take them on.  Create your own models with your own thinking and your own results.  When you really understand The Model, you understand that other people can show up in your life doing/saying anything they like.  And they still have no power over you.  All of your power is in your thoughts.  So you can give the churches and other people back their Models, and you can create your Model however you like.  You don’t have to let others have any of that power over you.

If you are ready to take back full power over your life, I’m here to help you.  Healing and wholeness are possible.  You do not have to carry shame and guilt with you any longer!  It’s time to give other people their models back.  Schedule your first appointment with me HERE and experience just how life-changing and freeing this work can be.  You are worth caring for yourself in this way.  This is your time to heal!

If this story has resonated with you, and you’d like help finding your own emotional freedom, I’d love to help you.  I have devoted my Life Coaching practice to helping people just like you find the freedom and happiness I now enjoy.  I’ve been in your shoes, and I know it can be hard to find help.  No worries, I’m here and ready to help you.  Schedule a 60 minute Mindset Makeover call to learn new tools you can put to use right away, that will help you make clear choices in your relationship and help you find emotional freedom.  I believe in YOU and I’m excited to share these tools with you.  Sign up for your Mindset Makeover, and start living a Trigger-Free life HERE.

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Kendra Last Avatar

My name is Kendra Last

I’m a life coach and author of the book Journaling to Recovery: A Reference Guide to Healing from Betrayal Trauma. I have been working in the betrayal recovery world for almost a decade. I’ve been there, and I will help you let go of the pain of the past, help you recognize your own inner beauty and strength, and help you learn to celebrate yourself again.

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