How to Move Past Shame and Feel Better

By Stacey Feintuch
Reviewed by Susan Ko, Ph.D.
March 15, 2023

This article is part of a series on how to cope with common feelings that can be tough to experience. Here, experts provide simple strategies for acknowledging and managing feelings of shame.

Maybe you lost your cool and yelled at your toddler, or perhaps you're reluctant to attend a gathering with old friends because your appearance has changed in ways that you’re not happy about. You notice that these incidents bring up an uncomfortable feeling, a self-consciousness that comes with the idea that something about you is wrong (like that you’re a bad parent, or unworthy of love). In other words, shame.

According to Pauline Peck, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist who practices in Santa Barbara, California, shame is the emotion that arises when we feel like we ourselves are bad. And it can come with unfortunate self-talk. “Shame is a feeling that says you are less than, you are inadequate, and you don’t deserve the good things [like] love, grace, patience, and forgiveness,” Peck says. In turn, shame can lead to feelings of low self-worth or low self-esteem.