Many people struggle with the feeling of shame. Shame is an unpleasant emotion associated with a negative evaluation of oneself. Shame is different from guilt as guilt is something we’ve done or failed to do that we compare to our values to causing us to feel discomfort. Guilt is about the behaviors that we have while shame is about our sense of self-worth and worthiness. In order for shame to grown and survive shame needs secrecy, silence and judgment. Although, feelings of shame are normal, people can develop too much shame making them more susceptible to depression, anxiety, addiction, suicidal ideations, and more.
Researcher Brené Brown discussed one way to decrease shame is by practicing vulnerability. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done as people often associate vulnerability with weakness. Brown challenges this notion as her research showed that vulnerability is the most accurate way to measure courage and generates innovation, creation, and change. When people allow themselves to be vulnerable around other’s it opens up the opportunity for people to feel understood and overall decrease their feelings of shame.
“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
― Brené Brown
For more information on vulnerability, check out “The Power of Vulnerability” by Brené Brown at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o or her book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are..
Brown, B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection: Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Center City, MN: Hazelden.
Keli Hinkemeyer earned her Master of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. Cloud State University, MN after completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Dependency and Community Psychology from St. Cloud State University, MN. She has a history of working with individuals who have spent time in the criminal justice system and are on parole. She has worked with individuals who have had an alcohol, substance, and behavioral addiction.