Long term stress and trauma can leave us full of shame about our vulnerability, frailty, humanity or need. Shame tends to freeze us, numb and disconnect us from others, or make us supress parts of ourselves. But could there be a positive side to shame?
Shame researcher Brenee Brown talks about the benefits of owning our shame and vulnerability- you can see her on TED talks on utube. Her message, powerfully delivered, is that shame numbs us. But we can’t selectively numb. If we numb our shame, we also numb joy and pleasure. Our life becomes driven by “shoulds”, the relentless search for perfection, and the denial of our limitations. So recognising and bringing compassion to our shame is essential if we want to relax its grip on us.
There are many ways to reduce shame, and Mindful living is one place to start. If we can hold the truth of our lives- all that is working and not working, beautiful and ugly, with love and compassion, then the bindings of shame start to loosen.
How do we do this? How do we learn to soften, soothe and allow the relationship with ourselves to become kind and nurturing? I will write about this more in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I look forward to your feedback and comments.