Diagnosis and Definitions

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Today’s a two-parter, since I have two completely separate things to talk about today. First, the results of my wife’s (and my) visit to the doctor.

We have strep throat.

We’re now on antibiotics that should help us feel better within 24 hours, but we still have to take two capsules a day for ten days, which is no problem for us, since we are already medicated anyway. So there’s the medical update, Dr. McCoy. (Callback to yesterday’s post, in case you missed it.)


What I really want to talk to you about today is the new book that I’m reading, called Daring Greatly by, once again, Brené Brown. In this book she discusses the subject of vulnerability. I’m still early in the book, but once again, her writing style has proven to be approachable and educational.

Today’s passage dealt with the definitions of four words that are involved with the concept of vulnerability: shame, guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment.

The reason these four words are important is that they’re often used interchangeably, but each has a specific definition that is, as she writes, “much more than semantics.”

I’ve discussed the difference between shame and guilt in this blog before. Shame essentially means “I am bad,” where guilt boils down to “I did something bad.” But what about humiliation and embarrassment?

Humiliation differs from shame because, as Brené quotes Donald Klein in her book, “People believe they deserve their shame; they do not believe they deserve their humiliation.” It’s the difference in saying “I’m an idiot” versus “who is he to talk about me like that, it’s not fair!”

The other important difference between humiliation and shame is that someone that’s experiencing humiliation is less likely to “shut down, act out, or fight back” since they’re not internalizing the triggering statement.

Embarrassment is the least concerning of the four, and the thing which sets embarrassment apart from the others is the realization that you’re not alone in what you’re experiencing, that there are others that have done the same thing or very close to it, and you’re eventually going to let it go. It will pass rather than manifest into destructive self-talk. In time, the situation might even become humorous and the source of a great story to share with friends.

Being able to transfer shaming situations into situations of guilt is a sticking point for me right now, and it’s an important one – it’s a considerable portion of why I’m on disability, because any negative situation immediately turns to shame in my mind and I turn that into obsessive thoughts and eventually self-destructive behaviors. I need to be able to turn shame into guilt or humiliation or preferably embarrassment in real time rather than doing it months or years or even decades down the line. (An embarrassing situation in fourth grade haunted me as shame into my 40s, until I finally turned it into embarrassment.)

I think this needs to be brought up in my next therapy session. It seems like this might be one of the keys to getting back to work. That’s an encouraging thought.

 

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An Interesting Read

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Over the past several months (there have been long periods of time that I’ve set it down and not read anything in it) I have been reading I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW. It deals primarily with dealing with shame through a concept called shame resilience. The whole book lays out different techniques about dealing with shame resilience, but the basis for the vast majority of the book is a series of interviews with an extremely diverse group of women. I’ve read the book and found some gems in it, but in the back of my mind I kept asking myself “what about shame resilience in men?”

Over the last couple of days’ worth of reading, she’s gotten around to her work with men. It’s nowhere near as diverse or extensive as her work with women, but her findings are very interesting.

Early in the research for this book, around about the time that she had identified twelve shame categories for women, she began interviewing older teenagers to get a feel for this particular age group. Her intention was to interview solely girls, but the clinicians that ran the groups had scheduled both girls and boys.

When it came time for her to interview the boys, she did so in a group setting, with the shame categories on a whiteboard behind her. She referred to the first one, appearance, and asked if there were any expectations for them to meet in this category. One teenager replied “Yeah, miss. I gotta look like I can kick your ass.” Laughter and agreement from the other boys. She moved on to health. More laughter and “You can’t be too sick to kick someone’s ass.” Since many of these boys were fathers already she asked about fatherhood. A little less laughter this time. “You talk about my baby or my baby’s mother, I’m gonna kick your ass.” Dr. Brown saw the theme clearly. Once the interviews were over, she filed away her notes until she began interviewing older men later in the process of writing the book, and this is what she discovered.

Early on in the book Dr. Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.” (I wrote about this back in June, for those interested in my words and opinions of the book early on.) She goes on to say that men experience this just as women do, that the “how we experience shame” is the same, but the “why we experience shame” is very different. As Dr. Brown says so eloquently in the book:

The expectation, clear and simple: Do not let people see anything that can be perceived as weakness.

She goes on to share some of the definitions of shame that she heard from some of the fifty-one men that she interviewed for her research.

“Shame is failure. At work. On the football field. In your marriage. In bed. With money. With your children. It doesn’t matter – shame is failure.”

“Shame is being wrong. Not doing it wrong, but being wrong.”

“Shame is a sense of being defective.”

“Shame happens when people think you’re soft. It’s degrading and shaming to be seen as anything but tough.”

“Revealing any weakness is shaming. Basically, shame is weakness.”

“Showing fear is shameful. You can’t show fear. You can’t be afraid. No matter what.”

“Shame is being seen as ‘the guy you can shove up against the lockers.'”

“Our worst fear is being criticized or ridiculed – either one of these is extremely shaming.”

Seems like the teenage boys were dead on with their “kick your ass” mentality, although that is a significant oversimplification of the issue.

So at this point I want to stop and explain how I relate to these statements.

I perceive my life as currently being a failure. My inability to live what many would call a “normal” life – get up, go to work, come home, be with my family, go to bed, repeat ad nauseum – weighs heavily on me for several reasons. I sometimes – not always – feel like I’m being judged for being on disability, although I’ve never once heard anyone express that sentiment to me. I so very desperately want to be able to work, to hold down a job, to be a success in the workplace – something that I’ve rarely, if ever, been able to say I’ve done. I feel like I’m failing my mother for not being able to be more involved in her life – she’s in skilled nursing in North Carolina while I’m in Texas with precious little money to be able to travel to visit her with, let alone the spare money to relocate her here and cover some of her expenses. I feel like I’m failing my daughter because I’m likewise distant and not in touch more often. I feel like I’m failing my wife for not being able to contribute more financially to our household, putting intense amounts of pressure and strain on her to have to succeed no matter what (remember, she also suffers from mental illness, but doesn’t really have the luxury of letting her guard down because of me.) There are some things I’m successful at, but I don’t feel that I’m living a complete life right now, and that, in my eyes, is a failing to the people that mean the most to me.

When I’m at my most irrational, I’m told that I will argue that the sky is purple until the other person – almost always my wife, who has to also deal with the stress of these moments, few and far between though they are – concedes. I HAVE to be right. It’s just impossible for me to concede that I could be wrong about anything. I’m desperate to be right about something, anything, that I’ll tenaciously defend a position even though it has absolutely no basis in fact.

I acknowledge that I’m defective; however, this isn’t anything that can be blamed on anyone or is anyone’s fault, it’s just how I was built, for lack of a better term. I don’t feel much shame about this because this is something that’s out of my realm of control, and I’m perceptive enough to realize that being ashamed of my faults doesn’t allow me to help others that may be experiencing the same thing that I am.

I’m not really tough. Full stop. I don’t engage in conflict unless it’s unavoidable, I’m not physically imposing in any way, I can’t grit my teeth and drive through a lot of situations that other men would have no trouble doing. Am I ashamed for this? Yes and no. I wish I were able to deal with conflict better than I’m capable of doing, but it’s not that big of an issue to me that I be physically tough. Physical toughness comes from physical health, and I have very little of that these days, between my illnesses and my weight.

I don’t feel the next one applies to me. I reveal my weaknesses all the time; I’m doing so right now. I feel no shame in this, I think that it’s important for others to know they aren’t alone with their struggles.

Likewise, I don’t feel shame in my fears. My fears are a large part of why I’m on disability, and while there is shame that I’m unable to provide for my family better while I’m on disability, I don’t feel ashamed that I fear things. It’s part of who I am, and as I said before, I don’t perceived my fear as a weakness. It’s just me being honest with myself about my strengths and limitations.

The next one, about being the guy that gets pushed up against the lockers, doesn’t really concern me. Since I avoid conflict like the plague, the chances of me getting into a physical altercation are slim to none, although there was one verbal altercation that I got into a few years ago that threatened to get physical, simply because someone misunderstood something that was said to them in a lighthearted manner. I kept my cool and managed to talk the guy down from getting violent, but my insides were watery. This was a hypermasculine guy who I feel honestly personifies the concept of “any weakness whatsoever is a bad thing.” So in light of that situation, I’m somewhat confident in my ability to talk myself out of situations like that, plus that’s the only time in my life that such a situation has ever occurred to me.

I have to admit, I have some trouble with the last one. I don’t like being ridiculed or made fun of, and I am downright terrorized by criticism these days – this is the main thing that I’m working on in therapy in order to return to work. Many guys have several friendships that they feel that they can trash talk one another freely because they know it’s just talk. I have exactly one friendship like that and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but anyone else trash talking me would be a very awkward thing for me to go through. I wish I knew why, and I wish I understood why this one friendship is different, but I’m thankful for it, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

So the question remains – do I feel shame? Depends on the situation. I’m not like some guys who are hypersensitive to these things, but then again I don’t know of many of my male friends that are stereotypically this way. I think that shame affects each of us differently, and something that would shame me may not shame someone else, and vice versa. Shame is an individual experience and something we all deal with in our own unique way. Dr. Brown  has written that she intends to do more research into shame resilience and men, and I’m eager to read her results on that. In the meantime, however, a lot of what I’ve read about women and shame resilience I can use as-is or alter to where it’s appropriate for my own situation.

A Little Late on the Uptake

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So in yesterday’s blog post, I mentioned a revelation that I had had during therapy, and said that I would be blogging more about it today. I’m quite a bit embarrassed by this, so this is going to be therapeutic on multiple levels.

Back in 2004 I was a certified pharmacy technician, and I was a good one – graduated near the top of my class, managed to get a wide variety of experience in both retail and hospital pharmacy in a short period of time, card carrying member of one of the professional development organizations in the field. I was working in the surgical pharmacy satellite dealing primarily with anesthesia medications, and I was very happy with that job. But a colleague had recruited me for a position with the aforementioned pro-d organization, and it was one that I couldn’t pass up – I was going to be brought on board as the editorial coordinator for the entire organization, with the job of editing the organization’s bi-monthly trade magazine falling within my purview.

When I was brought on board, the organization was in the middle of the issue cycle, and so rather than bringing me on board with the ending of the process, my job for the first three weeks that I was with the group was to disseminate trending news among the organization’s mailing list as a daily digest in several different categories. (This was prior to social media becoming a Thing; I imagine this part of the job is now being published in real time on both Facebook and Twitter.) I was good at this part of the job, because my ability to find relevant news was fairly strong.

Then came the day that I was brought on board with the process of creating a magazine. There was going to be a staff meeting to kick off the next issue, and before that meeting I had a ten minute long one-on-one with the executive director and publisher of the magazine explaining what was going to happen in the meeting. I was told to rely on the others on staff for the creative direction until I got the hang of the job and could handle that on my own, I was given a few other general pointers as well. And then I went to the meeting.

Which everyone, including my boss, expected me to run. I was not informed of this little detail before it happened, I was just basically thrown under the bus in front of the entire office staff. I had no idea what direction I should take the next issue, I didn’t have the first clue about what was going on, to be honest. I was very much outside my abilities at that point and we managed to wing it with a little – and I do mean little – help from my boss.

I pulled him aside after the meeting and addressed my concerns with him, and he explained that he had every faith in me to be able to have a rough draft of the magazine’s articles ready in three weeks.

And shortly – within a few minutes, actually – after that vote of confidence, the executive director of the organization locked the door to his office and hopped on a flight to Australia to fulfill a lifelong dream of swimming with the sharks off the Great Barrier Reef, an activity that he spent three weeks doing.

Remember that earlier mention of three weeks? This guy expected me to produce a full magazine with what was effectively ten minutes of vague guidance and no actual training.

Now, before you jump in and say that I should have known what I was doing when I accepted the job, my complete lack of editorial experience was a prominent point in my interview and I made it crystal clear to him that while I would appreciate the opportunity I had precisely no experience whatsoever of doing this type of work. So he knew what he was getting into when he hired me.

So there I sat without the first clue about how to produce a magazine, with three weeks to somehow magically do so. I had no training, no guidance about what to do, who to talk to about finding writers for the articles, no nothing. And the most important thing that I was without was resources. I knew very few people in my field; I’d only been in it about a year at that point. And the magic Rolodex with all of my boss’s contacts was behind a locked office door and the key had skipped the country.

No direction. No guidance. No training. No resources. Three weeks.

I spent that three weeks feeling my blood pressure rise, and about two weeks into this personal hell I had a doctor’s appointment. I don’t remember what my diastolic was, but i distinctly remember that my systolic blood pressure was in the 250s. My doctor openly wondered why I wasn’t having a stroke in front of her eyes. She asked what my life was like – diet, sleep, workload, everything – and I told her the summary of what my work was expecting of me. She asked if there was any way I could delegate some of my work responsibility and I explained that there really wasn’t anyone to delegate it to. Her order – not her suggestion – was for me to leave that job as soon as humanly possible, and it was emphasized that my health was directly counting on me doing so.

So I bided my time, continuing to make every effort to produce a magazine out of thin air.

When my boss finally arrived back into the office, I made it clear that I needed to see him as soon as possible. He made that meeting a priority, and in it I informed him that I had not completed the rough draft and that my doctor had ordered me to leave the job as soon as I could, and that this conversation was my resignation effective immediately. I left his office to go pack mine up and together my wife and I took the boxes down to the car and started a new chapter in my life.

It was May of 2004 and I felt like a complete and utter failure, and I blamed myself for the whole thing.

It took me almost a year and a half to go back to work, and only then because I had determined the best way to rebuild my confidence in myself was to volunteer somewhere, and the place that I volunteered at was so impressed by my performance that they hired me on part-time after the first month. I worked there for three years, working around 12 hours a week. That was the limit of my confidence. I still felt like a complete and utter failure because of what happened with the editorial job, and I still felt like it was all my fault.

Fast forward to September 2016. I still felt like a complete and utter failure because of that job and was absolutely convinced that the failure was 100% on me. And the experience came up in conversation with my therapist yesterday.

I explained to her what I’ve just told you, and her immediate response was that none of it was my fault. Given what I’d been given, there’s practically no one on the planet that could produce results with as few resources and as little training as I had. I had been thrust in a no-win scenario, and I was not to blame.

For twelve years I’d been shouldering the burden of the blame of that failed experiment, and I let it intrude into almost any situation that required me having self-confidence. It was doing so silently, surreptitiously, with me unaware of how thoroughly it had affected me.

It was like a light went off. It wasn’t my fault. It really wasn’t my fault. I’d been set up to fail from the beginning, and it wasn’t my fault. My former boss was the one to blame, he was the one at fault.

It. Was. Not. My. Fault.

I keep saying that phrase, “it was not my fault,” like it’s a mantra. I can hear myself saying it. But it’s another thing to believe it, and to change my point of view regarding the whole mess, and I’m not at that point yet. I hope to get there in the not-too-distant future. Right now I’d settle for it not being an embarrassment to tell this story – then we’ll worry about believing that it’s not my fault.

Baby steps.

One Giant Leap

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Back on Sunday I wrote vaguely about my greatest shame, and how it would be a topic of conversation between me and my therapist at some point in the future.

That point was today.

I’ve told the story before, but clinically, never invoking the emotions that I felt during the experience, and so I’ve never really fully told the story to anyone but my wife. It was surprisingly easy to get out once I started. I digressed during the telling of it to tell another, unrelated story from my childhood. While I’m still keeping my shame to myself for now, this part of the story I’ll share with you.


When I was about 17 I took off from home for a couple days to get my head screwed on straight. I wouldn’t call it “running away,” since I had every intention to go back home. I lived in Raleigh, North Carolina at the time and I took an evening drive to Washington, DC, arriving there around three in the morning.

It was something of a different time, and I wasn’t aware that Washington was a town you really shouldn’t be out by yourself at age 17 at three in the morning. But they had installed the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial since my last visit to Washington, and I wanted to see it, so that’s where I found myself.

I wasn’t alone. At that time – they may still be doing this, for all I know – there was a small visitor’s tent set up where the walkway to the Wall intersected with the sidewalk on the street. It was manned, and inside they had a guide to find any name on the Wall, along with solicitations for veterans’ relief funds. I gave a couple dollars, which was a significant part of what I had on me at the time, picked up the guide, and went down to the Wall to pay my respects. I spent maybe thirty minutes at the wall, just taking in what it meant to be face to face with so very many names of those that never made it home.

The walkway ran parallel to the Wall and turned with it, heading back up the hill toward the statue of three soldiers that was opposite the visitor’s tent.

There was a man there, and he was crying.

The part of me that felt like I should at least give the man an ear took over, and I asked him if he was okay, and he told me his story.

He served in Vietnam, lived in Washington state, and had saved for three years to make it out to Washington to find the names of his fallen comrades. He finally made it out and took pictures to have a tangible memory of the place to take home with him.

He set his camera down for a moment at the base of the statue, turned away for a moment … and someone stole his camera.

That was the last straw for this guy. My heart went out to him, and I held him for several minutes while he vented his tears and frustration and what had to be anger onto my shoulder.


When I told this story today in therapy, it brought me to tears, and I couldn’t figure out why spilling my guts about my darkest moments would keep me dry eyed, yet telling this unrelated tale about someone I spent maybe ten minutes with total would make me cry. It was my wife that pointed out the similarities between that situation and mine, and I knew that she was right.

So next session we’re going to touch on the feelings that the story about the veteran brought out and how they relate to my own past, and hopefully start getting to the meat of the matter: the climate that arose in my life after my darkest moments were over.

I know that I’m being vague, and I apologize for that, but some things I may never be 100% ready to discuss in a public forum. Just know that today I took a huge step towards processing the mess my past has gotten me into.

An Aha! Moment

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In today’s reading of my current book, I Thought It Was Just Me by Brené Brown, I started in on the chapter of shame resilience. This is a topic that I’ve written about previously, as the concept is introduced in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, which I’ve recently finished reading. However, this is an entire chapter on the subject, not just a few pages, and therefore it covers the concept in greater detail.

In today’s reading, it discusses how shame and its by-products fear, blame, and disconnection, are on one end of what she calls the Shame Resilience Continuum. On the other end is empathy, with its by-products courage, compassion, and connection. In helping explain how the women she interviewed overcame their shame and built resilience to it (remember, her research was limited to women only, but the concepts are applicable to anyone), she wrote the following:

When I asked women to share examples of how they recovered from shame, they described situations in which they were able to talk about their shame with someone who expressed empathy. Women talked about the power of hearing someone say:

  • “I understand – I’ve been there.”
  • “That’s happened to me too.”
  • “It’s OK, you’re normal.”
  • “I understand what that’s like.”

When I read these words, I realized that I had read words like this before, and that I’ve been familiar with this concept for years. In fact, I’ve written about it before in this very blog, not quite five months ago.

Back on January 14, when I was lamenting the back-to-back losses of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, I wrote about something called the Law of Conservation of Pain and Joy, a concept introduced in a series of short stories by Spider Robinson compiled into a novel called Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon. For the full background on the book, I refer you back to my original post, linked above, but I want to quote the relevant part of what I wrote back then.

… but the overarcing principle of Callahan’s is the Law of Conservation of Pain and Joy, or more simply put, Callahan’s Law.

Callahan’s Law states that “shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased – thus do we refute entropy.” Alternately, it’s worded to say that “Just as there are Laws of Conservation of Matter and Energy, so there are in fact Laws of Conservation of Pain and Joy. Neither can ever be created or destroyed. But one can be converted into the other.”

When I read the phrases that these women that Brown interviewed for her research above, I had a moment where everything clicked. Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.” Their recovery from shame began when they shared the pain of their shame with others – “shared pain is lessened.” It’s the same principle that I’ve known about literally my entire adult life.

Up to this point in my life I’ve hidden away my greatest shame for so long that I’ve blocked most of it out. I remember bits and pieces of it here and there, but for the most part it’s lost to time – but there’s still enough to trigger me whenever I see others experiencing what I did. In time I’m going to discuss this with my therapist – every little detail I remember – and once and for all share that pain that triggered by PTSD and subsequent perpetuation of my shame throughout my teenage years and into the greatest part of my adulthood. There are some that know parts of the story. I’ve only ever told the entire thing to my wife, and she can sympathize but not empathize, because she hasn’t experienced what I did. This is going to be an extremely difficult thing to process, but I’m hopeful that when I do, I will start to recover from my own deeply rooted shame.

I suddenly cannot wait to get deeper into this book.

The Shame Web

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In her book I Thought It Was Just Me, Brené Brown outlines something called the shame web. It’s something that’s very easy to get caught up in, and it’s kind of relevant to how I’m feeling today.

(I think it’s important to note, before I continue on to the contents of today’s reading, that there is a strong sense within the book that it’s written predominantly for women. Brown speaks often of the women that she interviewed for her research, with precious few mentions about how it’s applicable to men, but this book isn’t just for women. It’s for anyone that experiences shame and self-doubt, regardless of gender identity.)

Not too long ago, I sent our overnight visitor out the door to kick ass on a professional development exam, which I’m confident that she’ll do. The radio show for later this evening is in the can; all I need to do is switch over to the live stream and I’m on the air. I’ve completed my reading for the day, which led me to immediately write (I try to squeeze my learning – my brain games and my Spanish studies – in between reading and writing, but today I wanted to write while it was fresh on my mind). But once I’m done with all that, I basically have nothing to do between now and 6:00 when I go on the air. And the feeling of being alone at home is already starting to get to me. I get lonely very easily, and generally equate loneliness with being alone. Like most people, it’s possible for me to feel lonely in a crowd from time to time, but I’m almost always lonely when I’m alone.

So what’s this got to do with shame? Well, the feeling of loneliness is triggered by feeling disconnected from others, and in her book Brown states that “shame is about the fear of disconnection.” I can easily see this being true – to use the example that I’ve used in the past, when I gave the book report in fourth grade and so very obviously showed I didn’t read the book, and I was told what I had done and why it was wrong, I immediately felt like I was the only one that didn’t know what I was talking about, and that brought feelings of disconnection from the rest of the class.

The shame web is a somewhat complex construct. Fear, blame, and disconnection are in the center, and your self, your partners, your family, and your friends are in a ring of the web closest to the center. This symbolizes that shame is the most powerful when it’s enforced by one’s self or those closest to one’s self. In a ring further out from the center are your educators, teachers, membership groups, mentors, health professionals, community members, faith community, and colleagues – in other words, the rest of your sphere of influence. Influence goes both ways, and this group is the next most powerful in causing shame. Finally, in the outside ring, there’s our sphere of knowledge – film, marketing, books, music, television, advertising, media, and magazines – that together with the inner two rings dictate who we should be, what we should be, and how we should be. It’s an oversimplification, but shame can be said to originate when there’s a disconnect between what the shame web dictates we should be and what we are.

Does that mean that disconnection from others is like that disconnect in the shame web? Well, yes and no. Being cut off from others that dictate those “should be’s” to you when you’re uncertain of who and what you are, you can start to lose your sense of self and feel shame within that sensation. On the other hand, remember that your self is part of that inner ring that has the most influence over you in these matters. If you’re not who or what or how your self perceives it should be, that shame is a self-created state.

So what is the solution to this? Put simply, the solution is likely discovered further into the book – this is still chapter one I’m on here. But at least I’m starting to understand a little bit more about where my feelings of shame come from. The next step is figuring out what to do with them.

 

Working Definitions

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So, I did something that I said I wasn’t going to do; namely, I’ve started reading I Thought It Was Just Me by Brené Brown instead of re-reading another of her books, The Gifts of Imperfection, which I recently finished. In today’s reading, the book defines embarrassment, guilt, humiliation, and shame, and differentiates between each term.

Embarrassment is a fleeting emotion, and considered much less serious than either guilt or shame. An example of this would be walking out of a public restroom with toilet paper stuck to the sole of your shoe – a momentary flush, and the almost immediate realization that you aren’t the first person to do it, and you certainly won’t be the last – you are not alone in your experience, in other words.

Brown writes that the difference between guilt and shame is that guilt says “I did something bad,” and shame says “I am bad.” Guilt deals with a person’s actions rather than their identity, like shame does. Repetitive instances of guilt can lead to shame, however, as being consistently told that you’ve done something bad or wrong can oftentimes make that switch in the brain to feeling that you are bad or wrong.

The difference in humiliation and shame is that people experiencing humiliation don’t feel that they deserve the action or statement that’s causing the emotion, whereas people experiencing shame feel that they do deserve to feel that way. Again, repeated humiliation can evolve into shame – if you hear something often enough, you start to believe it yourself.

These definitions are very handy to have as I start to pick apart my own feelings of shame. They will be helpful in determining which emotion I’m experiencing in the future, when in the past it’s all felt like the same thing. I think correctly identifying what I’m experiencing will be a first step to overcoming the worst of it.