The Fear & Shame Cycle

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.”—Isaiah 54:4

Many who feel stuck in repeated negative behavior will often find themselves cycling between two emotions—fear & shame. And there are certain amounts of fear and shame that can aid change. But overdo them, and they can keep us in an endless repetitive cycle.

Consider this—Appropriate amounts of fear regarding "alienating our family" or "getting busted" can provide needed motivation. Guilt or shame about "character faults" and "our tarnished identity" can also provide needed motivation. And in some cases, these negative motivators are required. But some of us have not learned how to respond appropriately to the feelings of fear and shame. Our conscience reacts adversely and rather than focusing on growth and change we cycle on these feelings—engaging in a form of self-punishment. Instead of helping, this negative experience impedes our progress, keeping us stuck. It leads to failure to act, irrational decision-making, stress, and regression.

Learning how to stop this cycle can be new territory. But it begins with identifying and naming the fear and shame that is causing the cycle. And then as Isaiah says above, remembering that God sees you differently. He sees beyond the fear and shame that paralyzes you. And if He sees you this way, then you need to see yourself this way. So, friend, you have no reason to be "confounded or disgraced" for the past mistakes and trauma will be "remembered no more."

DO THIS: Identify your fear and shame, and then see yourself the way God sees you—redeemed.

PRAYER: God, make me see me as you see me. Break the cycle.

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