Escaping from shame

If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
(Brené Brown, Daring Greatly)

The first step in the process of escaping from shame is to learn to dissociate less, to stop stepping outside ourselves to comment in a self-judgmental way, and instead to be at the core of our own experience. Feel your feelings; animate your own life rather than simply thinking about it, and try to see ‘what is’ without the overlay of judging, comparing and analysing. If you sometimes act in a way you later regret, then just observe that as a fact, and look for what’s behind it (the human needs) without wasting energy on saying what a terrible person you are. Simply realizing that you no longer have to be stuck in shame is an excellent place to begin.

Another vital step is to speak your shame. Sharing in a safely held group what cannot normally be shared, and being heard with acceptance and understanding, helps to counteract all the internalised judging messages we have been giving ourselves. As with any fear-based projections, the reality is never as bad as our imagination!

Remembering that shame and guilt are emotions based on misguided (judgmental) thoughts or beliefs, it’s not surprising that effectively healing shame also involves paying attention to the nature of those beliefs, especially when they are strongly held over a long period of time. This is why I recommend a process of transforming our core beliefs as part of the de-shaming process. Something has to replace the old beliefs or else there will be a vacuum in which they can re-appear, ghost-like. Here is a our chance to create a new story based around our joy in life instead of our fears from the past.

Everything is about choice, really. When you are unconscious and ashamed, shame makes a lot of your choices for you and takes up a lot of your energy. When you release shame and become more conscious, you become aware of how much choice you really have, and this brings freedom.

 

Go back to The History of Anger, Guilt and Shame

Go back to The Alternative to Shame      Go back to Anger, Guilt and Shame