Shame Resilience

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The book I’m currently reading is The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. I’m not far into it but the part I’m up to is exceptionally timely.

In it, she talks about shame and something called shame resilience. She defines shame as:

… the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love or belonging.

The more I read what she wrote on the subject, the more moved I was by it. It’s exactly what I experience, and she nailed it as to why I experience shame the way I do.

According to Dr. Brown, there are three things to know about shame:

  • We all have it. Shame is universal and one of the most primitive emotions we can experience. The only people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection.
  • We’re all afraid to talk about shame.
  • The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.

Reading this passage moved me to tears. This is precisely what I’m experiencing and likely why it’s such a powerful spiral. One shameful memory cascades into the other and it turns into a mental account of all the times I did something that I perceived as a flaw. And that’s where this book, The Gifts of Imperfection, will hopefully come in handy.

Yesterday I mentioned an example of the shame I feel, and remarked in passing that the incident didn’t have as much influence over me as it once did. I couldn’t help but think that it was due to something I’d written before. After searching my blog posts, I found this entry that confronted this shameful memory and dealt with it. And I realized that talking about that memory lessened its control over my life, just like Dr. Brown inferred in her third bullet point above. Without realizing what was happening, I was demonstrating shame resilience.

I’m very excited to have made that realization and am looking forward to reading the rest of this book, as well as others she’s written that deal more with shame.

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