22 October 2014

Shame Resilience -- Part 5

This is part of a short series of posts on 'shame resilience.' The concept is Brene Brown's, and I'm simply making written ruminations on an interview published in Spirituality and Health.

 To recap, I am recasting Brown's theory of shame resilience into a process of sorts. Using her four characteristics of persons who are shame resilient (found at the end of the interview), I proposed a series of steps:

Step One: Learn what triggers our shame (see this post)

Step Two: Practice 'critical' -- I prefer the word 'compassionate' --  self-awareness (see this post)

Step Three: Reach out (see this post)

Step Four: Know what shame is (today's post)

 The phrase, "know what shame is," is Brown's. For the purposes of this series of posts that reframes her theory as a process, I think "stay aware of shame" works better.

Photo by William Marsh

Shame is formed in us when we're very young. We're not going to rid ourselves of it reading a series of blog posts and practicing for a few days. The real work, at least in my experience, is on-going. But not on-going in the sense of endlessly circling. It's on-going in the sense of a spiral that is leading us into the center that holds our truth.


I've written a lot about awareness (here and here, for example) and how it has become part of my pain management practice. Awareness generally, and self-awareness specifically, are essential for a mature spiritual life. For shame resilience, awareness means being conscious of feelings of shame as soon as they arise so we can apply what we've learned from Brene Brown: practice compassionate awareness and, as needed, reach out to someone else for talk or counsel or therapy.

Two points, now:

1. Again, this is an on-going practice. Feelings of shame and its corollaries -- guilt, low self-esteem -- are ready to arise at any time, no matter how long we've practiced resilience. That's why awareness is so important. We're not going to be able to stop the feelings altogether, and although they will gradually lose their sting and become less present, our best defense is to be aware.

2. Mature awareness is non-judgmental. Meaning, we're not saying to ourselves, "Oh, what an idiot I am, here are these feelings of shame again and I'll never learn..." Rather, we say to ourselves, "I'm feeling ashamed of this." Nothing more, because that's all we need before we move on to compassionate self-awareness.

In my next post, I'll wrap up this series.

Thank you for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

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