Is shame hindering your success?
For many families the new school year has started, bringing with it new teachers, new friends, new schools, new activities. For some of us, a new experience can be an opportunity for adventure. For others it brings fear. Being able to approach new experiences with a positive state of mind is important for being successful. Read below about the role shame can play in hindering success.
I also want to introduce you to my newest associate, Donna Resendez. You can read more about her below. Donna is EMDR trained and like all the therapists on my team uses EMDR to help people overcome the blocks that keep them from being their best selves.
In all the new experiences the next few months bring for you and your family, I hope you meet them with optimism and success!
Finding an Antidote to the Poison of Shame
Every time Grace—a gifted drama teacher—taught a class, she returned home with an awful sinking feeling. She didn’t understand why. “I had such fun and did a great job,” she thought to herself. Yet, rather than expand from the delight and exuberance of her time in the classroom, she contracted.
Grace’s contraction comes from the experience of shame, a poison that keeps us from experiencing our own joy and disconnects us from the aliveness within and around us. Whereas guilt is associated with a particular memory or event and having done something wrong, the feeling of shame is about being wrong at our core. It is a debilitating feeling we have about ourselves that comes from a core belief that we are basically and unalterably flawed.
The poison that is the root of shame is absorbed in early childhood. As a result of not being seen and loved for who we are, we develop the belief that we are unlovable and that something is inherently wrong with us. Perhaps we were told outright that we were bad, stupid or undeserving, or perhaps we were physically abused, from which we concluded we had no value. The thing we may have done “wrong” might have been simply expressing our joyful authenticity. Like Grace, we learned that again, being who we truly are is not safe.
Purpose of Shame
Oddly enough, shame can give us the illusion of safety. It provides us with a feeling of control over other people’s feelings and actions. If we are not getting what we want in life—in our personal relationships, in our work, even in our experience of self—a sense of power comes from “knowing” that it is because we are inadequate. If our defectiveness is causing the results we see, we believe there is always something we can do about it. We can do things “right.”
Clinging to the belief that our inadequacy is the cause of other people’s behavior towards us prevents us from accepting our inherent helplessness over others’ feelings and actions. Healing can only begin when we understand that ultimately all people make their own choices to respond from their own free will.
The poison of shame can be eradicated by taking certain steps towards healing:
The first step is to identify your shame, to become aware of how it feels in the body.
Once you recognize the feeling, notice shame every time it arises and experience it fully; name it and feel it.
Be willing to express your authentic feelings—including your joy and sense of true power. Reverse the shutting down effect shame causes by giving yourself permission to fully “show up.”
Accept that other people’s feelings are their responsibility. With compassion, choose to no longer take their behavior personally.
Practice forgiveness—for those whose behavior led to your feeling shamed, and for yourself.
Author’s content used under license © 2008 Claire Communications
If you’d like to understand more about the ways shame negatively affects our lives, I highly recommend this Ted Talk from Brene Brown: www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame
For many people the root of shame is deeply entangled with our memories and beliefs. Learning to practice the steps listed above and release the false beliefs that are ingrained can require some help. If you would like to work with one of our EMDR certified therapists to help you through that process, you can reach us at 818-681-6627. You can also learn more about EMDR on my website at www.kaysimmethlmft.com/emdr/
Meet Donna Resendez
Donna Resendez is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who believes that our well-being is profoundly affected by the quality of our relationships. “I value family,” she says. “I think relationships are key to living a happy life.”
In her more than fifteen years of practice, Donna has helped clients with issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, communication and conflict resolution. Donna also has experience leading a variety of group sessions, including pre-marital counseling, anger management, and self-empowerment workshops. She is a certified Domestic Violence Advocate and trained in EMDR therapy. Donna has seen the effectiveness of EMDR, which helps clients resolve and heal from emotionally overwhelming or traumatic experiences. “It just works,” says Donna. “Even on smaller issues, my clients leave feeling better.”
Donna is excited to be joining Kay’s team. “I respect her work. She was the one who first got me interested in doing EMDR, and I think it’s a really great partnership that we have,” she says.
Clients who work with Donna can expect a safe, compassionate, and nurturing environment where they can share their thoughts, feelings, and goals. “I fight as hard as they do,” says Donna about working with her clients. “They’re a priority for me. I want what they want just as much for them.”