Understanding Shame and Shame Resiliency
What is Shame?
* Explain What is Shame and Its Impact on our Life
Shame is a feeling of unworthiness or a feeling that "I am bad" that can lead to someone feeling like he or she does not belong. Shame is different from guilt in that guilt allows someone to feel that I "have done something wrong" but shame translates to feelings that "something is wrong with me."
Feelings of shame can be related to an increase of at risk behaviour for youth, including alcohol and substance abuse. Additionally, feelings of shame can often lead to isolation, fear and a feeling that "no one can understand me." Cycles of shame, triggered by fear, can often lead to sustained problems with a person feeling unable to ask for help or support.
Sample Quotes about Shame:
"Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging" --Brene Brown, PhD LMSW
"Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence and judgement"--Brene Brown
Have you ever felt afraid to reach out and share your story?
Has fear or fear of judgement ever prevented you from asking for help?
Has shame ever impacted your life?
Why is Shame Hard to Identify and Talk About?
* Explain Why Shame is Hard to Talk about and Why it is hard to Recognize Shame
Why don't we talk about shame?
1.) Misinformation and lack of information
2.) We feel sharing it makes us look "weak"
3.) We feel that we are the only one who experiences it
Why is it hard to recognize shame?
1.) Lack of understanding on what shame physically feels like
2.) Fear of acknowledging that we all feel shame
3.) Confusion between shame and guilt. Ie: The Difference between "I am bad" vs. I feel what I did is bad
Feelings Associated with Shame:
1.) I want to be alone and hide
2.) I feel powerless
3.) I feel shame in my heart
4.) I feel weighted
How do you feel when you experience shame?
What are some of your fears in sharing challenges related to shame?
How do we build Shame Resiliency?
*Explain How we Build Shame Resiliency and Increase Vulnerability
Building shame resiliency is an important part of developing tools and techniques that work to identify and fight against feelings of shame and the negative behaviour/consequences associated with shame. Shame resiliency allows us to identify the feeling of shame, and develop techniques to handle those feelings so that we can name shame and limit the influence it has on our lives.
In Brene Brown's work on shame resiliency she found that the following items lead to shame resilience: 1.) Recognizing Shame and Triggers 2.) Practicing Critical Awareness (Understanding how our environment contributes to shame) 3.) Reaching Out 4.) Speaking Shame
How does vulnerability reduce shame?
1.) By speaking with openness in sharing our struggles we are able to reduce shame and connect with others
2.) Vulnerability allows us to feel less alone
3.) Vulnerability allows us to get support when needed
How can we Practice Vulnerability?
1.) Ask for Help
2.) Reach out to a friend in need
3.) Share something you wrote or a piece of art with others
4.) Try something new
5.) Introduce two friends who don't know each other
6.) Admit when you are afraid
Sample Quotes about Shame Resiliency:
"Shame cannot survive being spoken. It cannot survive empathy"--Brene Brown
Looking at Differences between Shame and Shame Resiliency:
Shame: "That warm wash of smallness and inadequacy"--Brene Brown
1.) Learn What it is
2.) Learn When your in it
3.) Put a voice to it
"If we want to live and love with our whole hearts, and if we want to engage with the world from a place of worthiness, we have to talk about the things that get in the way--especially shame, fear and vulnerability" --Brene Brown
How can sharing my story reduce shame?
Can you identify some of your shame triggers?
Examples of Shame:
"For me shame came when I tried to explain something and I got it wrong. I felt shame in losing the point. It had made me not want to talk in front of other people. Sometimes I feel like I always say the wrong thing. What will they think of me if I get it wrong? I identify shame when I say something I don't know. Then I got my freedom from shame. I'm free to say anything in front of anyone. I know if I get it wrong I don't have to feel shame because I don't have all the answers to everything. That it's my right as a human not to know everything"
--Member of Ties that bind Us Sober House and Connectivity Advocate at Mtoko Safari Space, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
The following video clip is a drama from the Safari Sapce Club at Makini Organization in Dar es Salaam and shows how feelings of shame can impact our interactions with each other:
"Let's Outline an Example of Shame. Our group has about 44 members. But the question is do all members participate? The answer is no. Due to my experience, in other groups I attended, normally some members stay quiet not because they have nothing to share, it's because they are captive of shame. They fear that maybe what they want to share is not correct, which is not true. Everybody has the right to share, but shame does not let them."
---Member of ZANPUD and Connectivity Advocate at Mtoko Safari Space, Stone Town, Zanzibar
When I joined school I was afraid to go to my classmates and have any kind of discussion with them because I used to be afraid they would judge me because of the school which I came from. This kept disturbing me until I shared it with my mum and she told me that we are all equal and we all go there to learn. From there I began to get confidence and have discussions.
---Student at Juhudi Secondary School, Dar es Salaam
I know I am in shame when I feel: ________
If I could taste Shame it would taste like: _________
If I could smell Shame it would smell like: _________
If I could touch Shame it would feel like: ___________
Identify a safe friend or teacher and share with them one feeling of shame you have experienced
Videos and Additional Resources: