Sometimes I wonder, why I’m doing the work of holding the space for others to ‘do the work’ of developing shame resilience? At times it can be daunting to bump up against other's shame triggers, let alone my own.
Then I remember that whether the people I work with or I do the work or not, we will all feel shame. It’s a fact. Research has shown that everyone experiences shame and the ones and the cultures that talk about it the least have it the most. I feel an amazing sense of respect for the brave folks that choose to face it head on and grow skills to wade through shame's dark and murky waters, rather than deny it. That's how I feel about the courageous women in my Rising Strong group.
Brenè Brown has taught us that shame gets triggered in face down moments when we experience something as little as a skewed look across the room to greater triggers such as, job loss, break ups, rejection, people unloving us, failure of any kind, feeling misunderstood, hearing things incorrectly, someone bouncing their shame on us, comparison, making assumptions about others, and ourselves.
There is no short cut to navigate through the barrage of emotion shame can illicit. And there are a plethora of coping mechanisms that most of us have learned to employ to offload emotion, such as: addiction, even to religion, over functioning, under functioning, perfectionism, busyness, fixing, “good girling”, blaming, attacking, withdrawing and the list goes on.
However, none of these methods will ever tame the message of “Not enough” or “Unworthy” that shame triggers. We must develop tools of resiliency and get curious enough to rumble with emotion instead of off-loading and denying it.
Shame resilience is a practice. When our body begins to tighten, our hands get clammy, or our stomach is overcome with nausea because shame has been triggered, we need to stop and get curious about what is going on. Instead of off-loading our uncomfortable feelings, we have the opportunity to observe and listen to what is going on inside. This is the time to ask the following questions:
1. What is the story I’m telling myself?
2. Am I hearing some version of “Not enough”?
3. What is my tendency? Do I withdraw, become aggressive and blame shift, or suck up to whomever or whatever caused shame to be triggered?
4. How can I give myself permission to be compassionate with myself and stay in non-judgment about what I am feeling?
5. What is the truth? Am I making assumptions about the players in the story? Are they covered over with shame and therefore directing their shame toward me or am I doing the same thing?
6. How can I reframe and rewrite my interpretation of the story and what I am saying to myself?
Once we begin to identity the often-overwhelming feelings that most learned never to speak of, we begin to recognize that the feelings will not destroy us, and we will begin to defuse their intensity by speaking about them. Brown refers to this as, ‘Speaking Shame”, not to be confused with shaming another through speech.
It’s only when we deny, ignore or remain ignorant about the way shame shows up in our lives that it has power over us. As we bring it into the light things will begin to shift and the lies are revealed.
The more self-permission to feel what we feel and self-kindness we give to ourselves around our feelings, the less shame will derail us.
Are you developing your shame resilience? Join Kimber for her next Rising Strong Group, or upcoming Untamed Creative Retreat to begin to grow your resilience, give yourself a bounty of self-permission, shake off old hinderances, get untamed, enjoy creativity as a process to carry new revelation from your head to your heart, so you can spring into new freedom. Find out more here!