Today, I want to begin to explore shame, what is it and how to recognize when it is impacting or ruling my thoughts, beliefs and actions. This topic has so much depth that this is just a beginning.
I know that Shame has an impact on my life. I know that I have dealt with its effects and have made personal progress towards healing, but shame continues to rise up even when I think I have it all under control.
Dr. Brene Brown’s research and work surrounding shame has developed the Shame Resilience Theory. In this foundational work she defines shame as “An intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.”
I have felt this way. I would describe shame as:
Devastating, consuming, excruciating, small, wasted, rejected, separated, diminished, insignificant, painful, lonely.
I have learned to pick myself up and out of the worst of it. But shame in the past led me down the paths of believing in some cases that I didn’t need to be living and was of no value. I have been able to make significant progress stopping the dive to deep levels of shame due to building a support system including personal and professional systems to help me deal with my difficult emotions.
Shame includes feelings of being trapped, powerless and isolation. I am not sure if there are anything specifically that triggers shame for everyone. The research I have read that there isn’t a specific list, it is as individual for each of us as our stories. I’m going to start a list to what triggers my shame over the next few months and talk about it. I know off the top of my head is feeling rejected or being rejected is very painful for me. I can hear this voice in my head yelling, “You should be embarrassed! You should be embarrassed!” The strangest thing is the voice is probably someone from my past long ago that is a voice and message I still hear. I have actually tried to go back and figure out who that voice is…but no answers yet.
“Shame needs 3 things to grow in our lives: secrecy, silence and judgment.” Brene’ Brown
Shame is the belief that “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.”
Today I promise that I will speak out against shame in my life. I no longer will allow it to diminish me or my value. For more about VALUE look to the Week 1 blog post in January. I will seek out relationships that offer empathy and understanding so shame cannot survive.
Will you join me?