Freedom from the Thoughts of Shame

By: Rick Qualls

The other day I answered the phone and was greeted with, “This is a phone call like you have never heard before. My name is Jim and I can tell you how to make the cash roll in!”

I hung up.

Get rich schemes abound.

Manipulative people take advantage of you for their gain.

Are you being conned by the master manipulator, depression?

Depression twists your thinking, convincing you of lies that cause shame. Shame takes your life and feeds your depression.

Shame is a set of beliefs that you are defective, worthless, that you deserve misery. Some of these thoughts may ruminate in both our conscious and unconscious mind. 

These thoughts may include:  I’m stupid. I’m unattractive. I’m a failure. I’m a bad person.I’m selfish. I just don’t have what it takes. I hate myself.I don’t matter. I’m defective. I shouldn’t have been born. I’m unlovable.

These automatic thoughts steal from you and feed depression, worsening its hold on our lives. Depressive illness may bring on these thoughts. We can then be manipulated making depression worse.

How can we manage these thoughts of shame? The acrostic SHAME can be a pattern for breaking this downward shame cycle.

S—Support groups. You are not alone in dealing with these thoughts. Finding a group of safe people where you can hear others tell their story and where you can share yours. Talking helps identify manipulative thoughts, discover maladaptive behavior, and ways to disarm shame.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV

H—Honest thinking. You have been manipulated by the lies of depression. Shame thoughts are lies that need to be exchanged for truth. Identifying these thoughts and replacing them can change your feelings and behaviors. Therapy for this is called Cognitive Behavior Therapy.  It is highly effective at creating positive behavior.

“Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:2 Message

A—Appreciate life, even in the smallest details. It is impossible to deeply grateful and feeling shamed simultaneously. Gratitude resets your mind, changing your focus to the positive from the negative. Intentionally keeping a gratitude journal is a tool that many have used.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”Col 3:16

M—Marvelously Made. You have been made in the image of God. Yes, the image is tarnished but you are still marked in your Creator’s image. He sees you as a Masterpiece of His handiwork. The Good News of Jesus is that God loves us. Period. Nothing you do can make God love you more. Nothing you do can make God love you less.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalms 139:13-14

E—Empathy. Depression bullies you with its lies. Learn to be compassionate to yourself. Imagine one of your children confided in you they were having shame creating thoughts. What would you say to give confidence and encouragement? Say these things to yourself. Step out of yourself for a moment and empathize with your inner child that is hurting. Having compassion for yourself changes your inner world.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Mph 4:32 NIV

You can use the SHAME model to defeat thoughts and feelings of shame that depression causes.

When you hear the lies of depression, hang up the phone.



Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

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