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How do you handle shame?

By Haneen Mas’oud , Family Flavours - Nov 22,2020 - Last updated at Nov 22,2020

Photo courtesy of Family Flavours magazine

Some of us are predisposed to devalue ourselves due to childhood experiences, culture and family. When this feeling is not addressed and goes unresolved, depression and anxiety are likely to ensue.

 

Shame Resilience Theory

 

According to Shame Resilience Theory, developed by Dr Brené Brown, we can move on from feeling trapped, powerless and isolated as a result of feeling shame onto empathy, connection, power and freedom. 

The four elements of this theory are: 

• Recognising and understanding shame triggers. What physical sensations are associated with your feelings of shame (tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, racing heart)?

• Practising critical awareness. Are the expectations that are driving your shame realistic? Are they really what you need or do they lead to the person you want to be?

• Reaching out to others. Empathy is a tool that helps us understand our own experiences as well as others’. When someone shares their experiences of shame, we are better able to empathise and reach out to them, which also helps make us more resilient to our own shame

• Talking it through. Who is someone safe with whom you can share your story? How can you connect with others who have had similar experiences? What do you need from others right now? Who is capable of giving that to you?

 

Finally, let’s remember that shame is universal and we’re all afraid to talk about it. But the less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives. Shame becomes increasingly difficult to deal with without the confidence to show vulnerability in our closest relationships. So reach out to a trusted friend or a professional. You matter and deserve to live a life full of empathy, connection, power and freedom. 

Shame Resilience exercise

 

Fold a piece of paper into four sections and fill in each section with:

• A shaming experience

• Description of your self-talk

• What you did to challenge your negative self-talk

• Who you reached out to and shared your story with

 

Haneen Mas’oud

Clinical Psychologist

Reprinted with permission from Family Flavours magazine

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