Dealing with Shame
23 Feb 2016

shamed boy

I have recommended the book, The Secret Message of Shame in the resources section (Books) of my web-page.

This book is really helpful for both clients and therapists. It is a workbook, written in laymen’s language, and it has helpful exercises at the end of each chapter. Take it slowly and revisit. Shame is a slippery sucker. It wants to hide. And therapists want to hide from it too, so it can go round in circles in sessions if you have not faced your own shame.

Guilt is a feeling we have when we do something wrong; shame is the feeling that we ARE wrong.

Shame is a primary emotion, kind of made up of dissmell (try to screw up your nose as if something smells bad…that’s dismell) and disgust (this feels like you want to throw up, the antithesis of digestion). Shame feels like a feeling you want to get rid of because it is so awful.

Once you have dealt with your shame (faced it, felt it, found out how it got there, answered it, took charge of it), then you can manage it better when shame occurs.

Shame attacks are a form of panic attacks. I find this term helpful for clients, as knowing that shame is the feeling that has been triggered gives more options than if it is anxiety alone. A shame attack can be identified by the feeling of wanting to hide, wishing you could die, going red, wanting to keep it secret, hearing that inner voice that is attacking you and saying you are hopeless/ridiculous/lame/ broken/disgusting/embarrassing/WRONG.

Knowing it is a shame attack, and labelling it to yourself as such immediately puts a slight distance between you and the experience itself. In the moments after (or during) the attack it can be helpful to say, “This is a shame attack and this shall pass, this is a panic attack and it shall pass…” etc)

Then the goal is to ask, “What happened just before this feeling?” It could have been a look from a friend, a comment, a picture or even a sound. It could have been your own behaviour that set you up to feel ridiculous/less than/embarrassed. Tracking the trigger gives you the resources to more quickly identify the trigger in future. You will be ready for the slippery sucker! What a shame warrior you are …on a good day!

But back to the book…This book will give you a deeper understanding of your own shame experience, and some strategies to overcome it.

Happy reading!