“Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.“
~ Brené Brown
“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
There are so many wonderful quotes available about shame that I could just devote this whole blog to that and avoid addressing the topic myself – but – because I am a Life Coach and because I’m not a dog, I’m going to dive into this meaningful topic.
I had no idea how shamed I felt and how the fear that I just wasn’t good enough and never would be influenced my life until I found myself sitting in a group of women at a treatment center for alcoholism and depression. We were telling our stories and I couldn’t deny the immense sense of relief I felt as I realized that these women understood me – they knew how I felt and no one said “shame on you” or gave me “the look” that says it all. It was the first time I could remember feeling as if it was OK to be imperfect and just a normal human being.
While I was in treatment, I read the book Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw and I was stunned as I read about myself and how I had been so wounded by toxic shame. With this realization, the healing began and as Brené Brown says, “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
If you feel inherently flawed or defective and that somehow everything is your fault, as I used to feel, then you’re probably suffering from shame that has become toxic and dehumanizing. As John Bradshaw says, “Toxic shame is unbearable and always necessitates a cover-up, a false self. To be a false self is to cease being an authentic human being.”
The good news is that this state of being can be changed with help and intentional effort on your part. Here are some books that I can recommend as a starting place:
- The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
- Guilt, Shame and Anxiety by Peter R. Breggin, MD
- Shame & Guilt, Masters of Disguise by Jane Middelton-Moz
- Conquering Shame and Codependency by Darlene Lancer
- Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw
If you believe that chronic and toxic shame has become a state of being for you and if you’d like to change this, contact me and we can talk.
Here’s my email address: