How do you react to shame when it surfaces in you? According to Brene Brown, an expert on shame and vulnerability, we usually react to shame in the following ways:
- We move away from it by secret-keeping or by hiding/distancing/isolating.
- We move toward it by people-pleasing
- We move against it by using shame and aggression to fight shame and aggression
Which one is it for you? Maybe a combination?
We learn to respond to shame in these ways from childhood in order to survive. And these tactics tend to stay with us our whole lives until they stop working for us as well as they used to.
Is that you? Are you finding yourself in a space where you want to deal in a healthier way with shame?
Instead of moving away, toward, or against shame - Brene Brown teaches us to embrace empathy and connection as the antidotes to shame.
She explains that by talking about your shame with a friend who expresses empathy, the painful feeling cannot survive. "Shame depends on me buying into the belief that I'm alone," she says.
Is there a safe person in your life with whom you can share your shame?
Here's the bottom line: "Shame cannot survive being spoken," Brown says. "It cannot survive empathy."
If you do not feel safe right now calling your shame into light with a friend, a therapist with whom you feel a connection can be just as powerful and transformative.