Brene Brown is a shame researcher who opines:
“If you put shame in a petri dish and douse it with secrecy, silence, and judgment, shame grows exponentially.”
And it can be debilitating. The main issue with shame is the feeling that there is something wrong with me. I’m a failure is another belief that can permeate a life wracked by shame. And shame is merciless. It knows no boundaries, is no respecter of persons, race, culture or creed.
What we need, as Brene’ teaches, is Shame Resilience which begins with recognizing when shame shows up to write your story. One of the markers of shame begins in our bodies. Sometimes your head might drop down, or your mouth feels dry. Your heart can beat faster, and your cheeks turn red. Not everyone has the same symptoms, so it is important to tune into the signals your body is giving in regards to shame. Once you start to notice the feelings of shame, you are in a better position to address it and begin to turn it around to self-love.
One of the assignments I give to my clients is called “mirror therapy.” There is a handheld mirror in my office and I ask them to pick it up, look themselves in the eye and state: “I’m beginning to love you.” Of course, I am happy to show them what it looks like and I reassure them that I am not asking anything of them that I do not do for myself.
The journey of self-love begins with knowing where you have been judging or condemning yourself and determining to change your self-talk with compassion and love. Brene’ Brown ends her previous statement on shame with these words:
“But, if shame is doused with empathy, it cannot grow. Empathy is a hostile environment for shame. It cannot survive the empathic connection.”
It is my hope that shame is diminished in our lives. And it can be! I know it will be difficult. It is a one step at a time adventure to finding the best of who you are and acknowledging it to yourself and eventually to those around you. Will you pack your bags and go on this journey? I believe it will be the best trip you ever decided to take!
Sandra Stanford is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Certified Daring Way ™ Facilitator. She will be hosting One Day workshops based on the work of Brene’ Brown’s book Rising Strong. It is a workshop that has the capacity to be life-changing.