Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Therapy Spot! As more and more of you join me for the podcast, I like to occasionally reissue a previous podcast that newer listeners might have missed. Since this is the #YearofSelfCompassion, I think it’s important to revisit my podcast about something closely related to Self compassion: shame.
Before I recorded this podcast, I had attended a retreat on the subject of shame and self compassion. When I learn more about these topics, I get so excited to share that knowledge with other people. So let’s talk about shame, how it shows up in our lives, and how to “flip the script” with Self compassion.
What Does a Shaming Part want?
Do you have an intense reaction to shame, or even to the thought of it? You’re not alone. This emotion registers intensely in our bodies. While shame is uncomfortable, however, it does serve a purpose. Just like all of our parts, a shaming part wants what is best for us.
Here’s an example: imagine you mispronounce a word that you have read many times, but never heard out loud. If you do this in front of your partner or your best friend, you might feel a little silly, but not ashamed. If you do this while standing at the podium and speaking to a crowded audience? Cue the red cheeks, racing heart, and the overwhelming feeling of dread! That’s because shame works to keep us within the norms of whatever group we’re in at the time.
Your loved ones don’t care if you misspeak because they love you. Your audience, on the other hand, wants to hear from someone confident and well spoken. Your shaming part only wants to make sure that you don’t make the same mistake again, and risk the negative opinion of the group. When shame comes in, remember that it really is trying to help you.
How Does Your Shaming Part Show Up?
So, what happens after the immediate shame response of red cheeks and a racing heart? I don’t know about you, but when I feel shame, my instinct is to hide from the world. All I want to do is curl up in my bed, pull the covers over my head, and cry. But even in my bed, I can’t get away from my inner dialogue. It sounds a lot like this:
- “That wasn’t good enough.”
- “I messed up big time.”
- “That’s not right.”
- “I’m too much.”
Do you see the progression of thoughts there? It goes from “something bad happened” to, “I am bad.” Now, you might not even hear those words. That’s because the roots of shame run deep, often all the way back to our childhood. Your shaming part may come from a traumatic experience with shame as a very young child.
Luckily, the antidote is simple (though not necessarily easy). If shame has taken over, you don’t need to crawl into a hole and disappear. All you need to do is get to know yourself. Open up a compassionate, caring dialogue with your shaming part. Meet that part with calm and compassion. Listen to what it has to say. Let it know that you hear, that you understand, and that you know it is trying to help.
When we see shame clearly, we can do things differently — not just suffer. My motto? Get to know yourself. When we become more aware of ourselves, we can better connect on the inside. By doing that, we open the door to stronger outside connections as well.
Meeting Your Shaming Part With Self Compassion
Remember: shame is a universal, human feeling. Self Compassion is the antidote to shame, and all of the negative feelings that come along with it. Begin by noticing what happens to you on the inside, and go from there.
Just like riding a bike or playing the guitar, this takes practice. It won’t change overnight, and that’s okay. It’s normal! You are worth the time and effort to learn more about yourself, and how to be there for yourself in a loving, compassionate way.
Need some help getting started with Self compassion? Check out the guided meditation I mentioned in the podcast. Take ten minutes to listen to Tara Brach’s RAIN of Self Compassion and discover what you need.
Thank you so much for joining me this week. See you next time!