Overcoming Shame after Stroke: An Actionable Guide to Self-Love

Overcoming Shame after Stroke: An Actionable Guide to Self-Love

If self-love wasn’t previously on your radar, then shame could be crippling your stroke recovery efforts without you even realizing it.

See if you can relate to any of these feelings:

  • You have isolated yourself after stroke
  • You constantly feel like others are judging you
  • You have been procrastinating on your recovery

If you can relate to any of these statements, then you may be suffering from shame after stroke.

No one likes being there, and fortunately it’s a place that you can pull yourself out of.

In this article, we will discuss what shame looks like and how to overcome it. You will also find actionable exercises that will help you learn how to love yourself, which is best way to overcome shame.

Identifying Shame

Shame can be described as feeling incomplete, not enough, and/or unlovable.

Shame is painful and, what’s worse, often invisible. Because when we feel shameful, we hide. We don’t want others to see us while we’re down because we’re afraid of what they’ll think of us.

We’re afraid of their judgement.

And chances are, if we’re always on guard for judgement from others, we’re probably guilty of judging ourselves, too.

So, instead of beating ourselves up over our shame, we can use it as a sign – a sign that shows us exactly where we can be loving ourselves more.


If we loved ourselves before stroke, and stroke took something away from us that we loved (like athleticism, for example), then we may feel lacking. We may not even feel like we can love ourselves again until we get that thing back.

Or, if we didn’t love ourselves before stroke, and stroke took yet another thing away from us, then we really feel lacking.

Neither of these situations are desirable, and we’re looking at it all wrong.

We need to do the opposite.

We need to insist on love now instead of waiting for something to give it back to us. We can’t wait until we achieve a certain level of success in order to begin our emotional healing.

Success is already hard enough as it is, and when you add the unnecessary burden of self-hatred, it slows everything down. And we want to recover as quickly as we can.

So, for the sake of a speedy recovery, let’s move into love, shall we?

Ending Self-Criticism

Self-love starts with loving self-talk, and self-criticism does not fit into that picture.

When we find things to nit-pick and fix about ourselves, we become focused on what we’re doing wrong instead of what we’re doing right. And this only adds to our feeling of not-enough-ness.

In order to love ourselves, we need to shift our focus. We need to learn how to notice everything we’re doing right until we don’t even see our flaws anymore.

This takes practice, and the following exercise can help with that.

Exercise #1: List 50 Things You Love About Yourself

Right now, or right after you finish reading this article, write down 50 things you love about yourself.

Try not to judge yourself for how slow or fast you complete the exercise. Instead, focus on how you feel about what you’re writing.

Are you surprised by how much there is to love about yourself?

Are you unable to find 50 things to love?

Try doing this exercise every day for one month. It may feel excessive, narcissistic, and repetitive, but it’s necessary.

By doing this exercise repeatedly, it will train your brain to start finding things to love about yourself instead of finding things to fix.

And that’s how self-love begins.

Continue to Part 2: On Body Betrayal and Wabi-Sabi

  • Tamara Pots

    This is about me! I try to focus on my positives, but my brain immediately comes up with what I’m lacking. (it always did) In the hospital 7,5 years ago, I was tested on my math-skills, they had me subtract 7 from 100. (93-86-79 and so on) If I couldn’t have done that anymore, I wouldn’t have resisted it so hard. But unfortunately I got hit in what affects me most: my looks. I spend a lot of my day wondering how long I have to do ugly. And until I don’t feel ugly anymore, I choose to hide as much as possible. Even though I go outside for a walk anyway, because I realise recovery starts outside of my comfort zone.

    • Flint Rehab

      This one is absolutely for you 🙂 I’m sorry you’re struggling with your looks. That must be a difficult situation. It sounds like you’re already doing everything you should be doing to work on it though! Self-awareness and getting outside your comfort zone 🙂 Keep it up!

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