What is shame-resilience?
At first glance, you may well feel that shame-resilience isn’t relevant to you -
Many of us don’t recognise the feeling of ‘shame’, as something we experience very often.
Most of us associate shame with those who have experienced extreme trauma, or who have a terrible secret about their past, or who feel they have committed a henious act, that they then feel ashamed about. And these ARE certainly valid experiences of shame.
But what if I told you that we all feel shame, most of the time, in various forms.
What if I told you that the following, common, day-to-day, thoughts of many of us are generated, and driven, primarily by shame:
"I'm too emotional, I shouldn't feel this way, I need to pull it together"
“That Mum has it together so much better than I do, I’m a mess”
“No matter how hard I try I feel like I’m failing, or falling short of getting it just right, all the time”
“If was a better Mum, my kids would listen to me more”
“If was a better Mum, my kids wouldn’t be as upset or anxious as they are all the time”
“I’m not sure what I’m doing, I’m making it up as I go along and I feel like I’m failing, all the time”
“Sometimes it feels like everyone else is a better Mum than me”
“I must not be cut out to be a Mum - If I was, this would be easier - Everyone else makes it look so easy"
“I’ve got to pretend to believe things I don’t really believe, to fit in with the other Mums at the school gate”
“I shouldn’t feel like crying as much as I do”
“I shouldn’t feel as angry at my kids the way that I do, I hate myself after I’ve yelled at them”
"Other children aren't as emotional as my child .... What have I done wrong?"
“I feel like its all too much, I’ve got so much on my plate I don’t feel like I’m doing any of it very well”
"I shouldn’t still feel sad or angry anymore about how my baby was born - That was years ago now, and I should just be grateful he was born well and healthy”
“I should have breastfed for longer … Everyone says breastfeeding was the best thing for my baby .. I gave up too soon … and I feel awful”
“I shouldn’t miss my old life, or my work, I should be loving every minute of being a mum …"
"... But I don’t … There must be something wrong with me”
“You know what, I’ll just feel so much better when … (we move to a bigger house/I lose that weight/etc.)”
"I know looking after myself important, but there is no time left for me, once everyone else is taken care of" ...
Do any of these thoughts above sound familiar?
They certainly do for me.
When I first learned about shame, I didn’t think it was a feeling I experienced …
Until I learned that shame is manifested in these very thought patterns:
"I'm not good enough”, or “not (anything: pretty/fit/thin/calm/happy/etc.) enough”
“Whatever I do, its never enough” or “I”m never enough”, or ironically: “I’m too much”,
“I”m not as good (or as ‘anything’) as someone/everyone else” …
These thoughts were how my shame manifested in my life. I had just never called it shame.
And because it lay there everyday, under my conscious awareness, it controlled so much of my life.
It kept me silent, and it kept me stuck, it kept me disconnected from people that loved.
It kept me trying to perfect and please everyone else, and it kept me living 'small', reacting all the time to other people's demands,
rather than living on my own terms.
Shame shows up everytime we feel vulnerable
Whenever I tried to be me, whenever I wanted to do my own thing, or think my own way,
whenever I tried to be brave and step out of my comfort zone ...
Shame would show up
It would make me doubt myself, and it would warn me off against trying too hard.
It would tell me I would be rejected.
It would tell me I would be laughed at.
It would tell me I had better stay small and quiet, to avoid all of this and stay 'safe'.
And shame is connected to every other single feeling we have.
In our society, it is often seen as being 'weak', or 'not strong enough' to experience sadness, anxiety, worry, grief, trauma, etc. We often feel, or have been told, that we are 'too emotional', that we need to 'pull ourselves together' and we often apologise for crying or showing our emotions.
All of these reactions to our feelings are based in our shame.
So whether you are experiencing overwhelm, depression, anxiety, grief, sadness, addiction, burnout, etc.,
shame is relevant to your experience.
And I am confident that a shame-resilience practice will benefit you.
Enter shame-resilience ...
I personally began practising shame-resilience, which I first learned about from Brené Brown, a few years ago.
I learned that shame-resilience is about learning how to be vulnerable AND keep moving forward
towards the life that I want for me and my family, in an authentic way.
I learned that when I have shame-resilience, my vulnerability is actually my biggest strength.
I learned that shame-resilience is the path to self-acceptance, self-compassion, and being comfortable with all of my stories about my life - I learned that I no longer have to keep bits of me and my story a secret because I felt ashamed.
This learning has been the single biggest positive impact on my sense of self-worth, and what I feel capable of doing now -
My authenticity, my heart and therefore my life have opened up.
I feel braver, I am braver, and I'm certainly more centred in what's important to me, rather than feeling that I am just reacting and fitting in with everyone else all of the time.
Shame-resilience is for me, and for my child
And importantly, with this knowledge, I'm now much better equipped to raise my child as some who knows their self-worth, who lives their life on their terms, who is brave to show up as their authentic self, and who always know they are worthy of love and belonging, and knows that they can handle any struggle without sacrificing their self-respect.
In short, I have no doubt that learning shame resilience has been THE most important learning I've done, for me and for my child.
Resources for more information:
Brené Brown's TED talks:
Brené Brown website: