Ep 019: Shame Resilience
Happy Me Happy Earth Podcast Show Notes
In this week’s episode, we’re talking about something that no one wants to talk about: shame. Let’s go there, get uncomfortable, and build our shame resilience!
Activists, advocates, and changemakers like us tend to experience shame quite often. Of course, we do! We have strong views that challenge the status quo. So in order to care for our mental health and do courageous, change-making work it is important that we develop shame resilience.
In this episode of the Happy Me Happy Earth podcast, I share a simple process that you can when you’re feeling shame or embarrassment. Practicing this process will help you to develop shame resilience.
Below is a brief outline of the episode. To hear the full discussion, personal examples of times that I have experienced shame, and how building my shame resilience has helped me to become a more effective changemaker, please tune into the full episode wherever you get your podcasts!
Photo by Joice Kelly on Unsplash
Why is shame resilience important for changemakers?
By building our shame resilience we can become more effective changemakers.
What is shame?
According to the Oxford Dictionary shame is, “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” But, my favorite definition comes from author and shame researcher Brenè Brown. She defines shame as, “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
When do we typically feel shame?
Personally, and in my work with clients, I’ve identified two general types of situations that often bring up shame. Of course, we humans are incredibly complex animals and not all experiences can be placed in one of these two categories. But, I do find it helpful to think of shame in this way so I will share it with you.
First, shame often arises when we are getting out of our comfort zone, growing, taking courageous action, and challenging ourselves to become better people. When doing new things or doing things in a new way we worry that we’ll mess up or that people will judge us. In these situations, shame is an indicator of personal growth.
On the flip side, shame also comes up when we realize that we’re not living up to our potential or that we’re playing it safe. We also experience shame when our actions aren’t aligned with our values.
Either way, shame is often pointing us to our next area of personal growth.
How to develop shame resilience:
Step One: Normalize the shame
Shame is a completely normal and healthy emotion. It’s an important part of our human experience. It’s not wrong, and you are not wrong for feeling it.
Step Two: Invite the shame in
Instead of ignoring, minimizing, or pushing your feelings of shame away try inviting it in. What does it feel like in your body? Where can you feel it? What thoughts come up for you when you’re feeling shame?
In this step, we want to bring shame out of the shadows and shine a light on it.
For some people, inviting the shame in will be too intense to handle alone. If that is true for you, please speak with a therapist or other mental health professional who can support you.
Step Three: Show yourself compassion and empathy
The wise aforementioned Brenè Brown once said, “If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”
Therefore, we want to meet those shame-producing thoughts with empathy and self-compassion. How can you think of the situation with more compassion? What similar but more compassionate thoughts could you think?
It might be helpful to imagine that you’re talking to someone that you love. If a friend was telling you about a similar situation in which they felt shame, what would you say to them?
Step Four: Share your story
This takes a lot of courage and vulnerability, but you’ll be amazed at how effective this practice is at taking the emotional charge and power out of your shame.
Step Five: Identify the lessons
Once you’ve fully felt your shame and processed through the other steps you might want to take a moment to identify any lessons that you can take from the experience. Is your shame pointing out something that you want to do differently in the future? Is it pointing to a new area of self-growth?
Our feelings, when we allow ourselves to feel them, can be our best teachers. This is how we build shame resilience.
Let’s recap how to build shame resilience…
- Normalize the shame
- Invite it in
- Show yourself compassion and empathy
- Share your story
- Identify the lessons
I want to encourage you to use this process just one time this week. Whenever you’re feeling embarrassed or shameful about something give yourself a moment to reflect and invite the shame in.
If you’re in a situation where you’re not able to dive into your feelings then come back to it later in the day when you have some time and space to reflect.
Taking time to practice this process and build your shame resilience will be incredibly helpful on your change-making journey. You got this!
Other links mentioned in today’s podcast:
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Thanks for listening and/or reading!
Podcast music: “Bounce” by Coma-Media on Pixbay