According to Dr. Linda Hartling at the Stone Center, Director of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies, she notes Karen Hornby's work on moving toward, moving again, and moving away to outline the strategies of disconnection to deal with shame.
According to Dr. Hartling, in order to first deal with shame, is to notice our responses.
- Some of us move away by withdrawing, hiding, silencing ourselves, and keeping secrets.
- Some of us move toward by seeking to appease and please.
- Some of us move against by trying to gain power over others, by being aggressive, and by using shame to fight shame, for example, sending really mean emails.
Most of us use all of these--at different times with different people for different reasons.
Yet all of these strategies move us away from our story.
Shame is about fear, blame, and disconnection. Our story is about worthiness and embracing the imperfections that bring us courage, compassion, and connection. If we want to live fully, without the constant fear of not being enough, we have to own our story. We also have to respond to shame in a way that does not exacerbate our shame. One way to do this is to recognize that when we are in shame so we can react with intention.
Shame is a full contact emotion. Men and women with high levels of shame resilience know when shame is happening. The easiest way to know shame is to cultivate an awareness of our physical shame connection. I know that I am struggling with shame when that warm wash of inadequacy comes over me, my heart races, my face feels hot, my mouth gets dry, my armpits tingle, and time slows down.
It is important to know our personal symptoms so we can get deliberate in our response to shame.
When we are in shame, we are not fit for human consumption. We need to get back on our emotional feet before we do, say email or text something that we will regret. I know that it will take me ten to fifteen minutes to pull myself together and that I will definitely cry before I am ready.
I will also need to pray. Knowing this is such a gift.
If you want to kick-start your shame resilience and story claiming, start with these questions. Figuring our the answers can change your life.
1. Who do you become when you are backed into that shame corner?
2. How do you protect yourself?
3. Who do you call to work through the mean-nasties or the cry-n-hides or the people pleasing?
4. What is the most courageous thing you could do for yourself when you feel small and hurt?
Our stories are not meant for everyone.
Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share:
"Who has earned the right to hear your story?"
If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or a small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging we are incredibility lucky.
We do not need love and belonging and story catching from everyone in our lives,
but we need it from at least one person.
If we have that one person or that small group of confidants, the best way to acknowledge these connections is to acknowledge our worthiness. If we are working towards relationships based in love, belonging, and story, we have to start in the same place:
I am worthy.
Brene Brown - The Gifts of Imperfection