4 Ways to Stop Shame in its Tracks

4 Ways to Stop Shame in its Tracks

Shame sabotages our desire for emotional intimacy, says Brene Brown.

Everyone is going to experience feelings of shame, yet we can become more “shame resilient,” says researcher Brené Brown. She observed that some people have higher levels of what she calls shame resilience, and that this characteristic can lead to deeper connections with themselves and others. There were four traits that she found shame-resilient people had in common, and she shares them with us here:

Know what shame is. “They talk about the feelings, they ask for what they need,” says Brown. “And they don’t call it embarrassment, they don’t call it guilt, they don’t call it self-esteem—they call it shame.”

Understand what activates your feelings of shame. “For example, I can expect to be triggered as soon as I feel like I have disappointed someone or let them down,” she says. “I am going to hear a mental tape playing ‘You are not enough.’ Because I am expecting it, I can greet it and say, ‘I get it, but not this time.’ ”

Practice critical awareness. Brown might, for example, ask herself, Is it really true that my worth hinges on making someone else happy?

Reach out. “I might call a good friend and say, ‘Hey, this guy has been asking me to speak at a conference, but it’s on Charlie’s birthday. I said no and he got upset. I know I did the right thing, yet I am feeling like I am not good enough.’” Shame can’t survive being spoken, says Brown. “Talking cuts shame off at its knees.”

To read the entire interview with Brene Brown, click here.

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