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Shame is a powerful emotion. When it hits, it can hold us back in many areas of our lives, especially our careers. A shame ceiling is a self-imposed limit on your accomplishments due to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and shame. 
When we feel ashamed, we may be afraid to take risks, try new things, or put ourselves out there. This can lead to us staying stuck in our current roles, even if we're not happy or fulfilled. High achievers, driven by a desire for excellence, are particularly susceptible to this phenomenon. You can find out more about this in our previous blog ‘Breaking Through the Shame Ceiling: High Achievers and the Hidden Struggle’. 
But, if you’re a high achiever who is struggling with a shame ceiling in your career, a counsellor can be instrumental in helping you to address and overcome it. Here's how… 
Identifying the Root Causes 
Specialist Counsellors who understand shame are trained to help you explore the underlying causes of your shame ceiling. They can help you to identify specific experiences, beliefs, or traumas from your past that have contributed to your feelings of shame or self-doubt in your career. For example, you may have experienced a setback or failure early in your career that has left you feeling like you're not good enough. Or, you may have grown up in a household where your accomplishments were never recognised or validated. Once you understand the root causes of your shame ceiling, you can begin to work on overcoming them. 
Challenging Negative Beliefs 
Shame often leads to negative self-talk, such as "I'm not good enough" or "I don't deserve to be successful." A counsellor will work with you to challenge and reframe any negative beliefs and thought patterns that are holding you back. They will help you develop a more balanced and realistic view of your abilities and achievements so that you can recognise that your success is due to your hard work, talent, and abilities. 
Building Self-Esteem 
Negative beliefs can have a devastating impact on our self-esteem. They can make us feel like we're not good enough, that we don't deserve to be happy, and that we're destined to fail. A counsellor can help to improve self-esteem by helping you to develop a healthier self-concept. This means learning to see yourself more realistically and objectively, and to accept and appreciate your strengths and weaknesses. Another way that counselling can help to improve self-esteem is by helping you to cultivate a more positive self-image. This means learning to focus on your positive qualities and accomplishments, and to be less critical of yourself. For example, if you have a tendency to compare yourself to others and come up short, your counsellor can help you to focus on your own unique strengths and accomplishments. They can also help you to develop a more compassionate and understanding attitude towards yourself. 
Setting Realistic Goals 
Your counsellor can assist you in setting realistic career goals and expectations. They can help you create a plan for achieving your objectives without setting yourself up for constant feelings of failure. For example, you may have a goal of becoming a CEO within five years. While this is a good goal, it may be unrealistic given your current experience and qualifications. Your counsellor can help you to set more realistic goals that are achievable and that will help you to build momentum towards your ultimate goal. 
Developing Coping Strategies 
Counsellors can teach you coping strategies and techniques for managing shame and self-doubt when they arise in your career. This may include mindfulness, shame spiral mitigation, relaxation exercises, or assertiveness training. You may, for example, experience feelings of shame when you make a mistake at work and start to pile the pressure on yourself. Your counsellor can teach you coping skills to help you manage these feelings and learn from your mistake without letting it define you. 
Improving Communication Skills 
Effective communication is vital in navigating your career. Counsellors can work with you to improve your communication skills, helping you express your ideas, needs, and concerns more confidently and assertively. If you find it really difficult or uncomfortable asking for a raise or promotion, your counsellor can help you to practise communicating your needs in a clear and concise way as well as finding the root cause of why you feel this way. 
Managing Stress and Anxiety 
If your shame ceiling is accompanied by stress or anxiety, counsellors can provide strategies to manage these emotions effectively. Learning to handle workplace stress can prevent it from triggering feelings of shame. 
If you feel anxiety before giving a presentation or attending a job interview, your counsellor can teach you relaxation techniques and stress management strategies to help you cope with these situations. 
Career Exploration and Decision-Making 
If your shame ceiling has led to doubts about your career path, counsellors can help you explore alternative options and make informed decisions about your professional journey. For example, you may have been working in a particular field for many years, but you're no longer feeling fulfilled. Your counsellor can help you to assess your skills and interests, and identify potential career paths that are a better fit for you. 
Accountability and Support 
How many times have you told someone or yourself that you’re going to go for that job? Or saved a listing on indeed.com only to miss the application deadline? A counsellor serves as an accountability partner who will support you in your efforts to overcome your shame ceiling. They can provide ongoing guidance, encouragement, and feedback to help you follow through with your intentions and feel confident in your applications. 
Integration and Long-Term Growth 
Counselling is not just about short-term solutions but also about fostering long-term personal growth and resilience. Your counsellor can help you integrate what you've learned into your career and personal life to maintain progress.For example, you may have learned new coping mechanisms for managing shame and self-doubt. Your counsellor can help you to apply these coping mechanisms in your daily life and to develop a more resilient mindset. 
If you're struggling with a shame ceiling in your career or shame is making you unhappy, seeking help from a qualified counsellor is a sign of strength and courage. A shame specialist counsellor can help you to understand the root causes of your shame, release those feelings from your subconscious, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and improve your communication skills. They can also help you to set realistic goals and develop a plan to achieve them. 
If this resonates with you, book a call with a qualified counsellor today. Together, we can work to build your self-esteem and confidence, and to develop a plan to achieve your career goals. 
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