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Moving from Shame to Worthiness

Dec 05, 2016

Do you sometimes find yourself speaking about who you are fundamentally in a negative demeaning way? Or do you find your clients talking about themselves in an unresourceful and uncaring way? And when you hear this negative self speak, do you recognise that you and/or your clients put up shields to protect yourself or themselves and respond by either fighting, fleeing or freezing?

The emotion of shame is a human experience. Meaning it is a feeling of not being good enough, not being worthy enough, not feeling valued. Shame can happen when we compare ourselves to others in different areas of our lives and we feel we do not measure up to others. In these times of belief, we fundamentally believe we are ‘bad’.

In her grounded theory of shame resilience, Dr. Brene Brown identified 12 categorise of shame triggers:

  • Body image
  • Finance/work
  • Parenthood
  • Parenting
  • Family
  • Mental and physical health
  • Sex
  • Aging
  • Religion
  • Speaking out
  • Surviving trauma
  • Being labelled

When we experience shame, we are effectively telling ourselves ‘I am not worthy,’ ‘something is wrong with me,’ ‘I’m useless,’ ‘I mess things up,’ etc.

When we speak from a place of shame, we allow it to define who we are as human beings. Shame destroys our self confidence, and if we spend long periods of time in shame, it can be extremely destructive.

On the other hand, if we feel guilt, a little more empowering emotion than shame, we recognise we may have made a mistake, but we acknowledge it is our behaviour at fault, not who we are.

When we feel guilt we know we have failed and it is a trigger to let us know we can do things differently next time around.

As coaches we can support our clients to cultivate their courage and move from shame, through to guilt, and ultimately to worthiness by;

  • Recognising when they are experiencing shame and what the triggers are.
  • Naming the emotions and learning from the emotions.
  • Supporting them to reframe their beliefs e.g from ‘I am bad’ to ‘I made a mistake.’
  • Supporting them to reach out to others and share; asking for support.
  • Practicing self compassion strategies such as self care, breathing at a deeper and slower pace, mindfulness practice, etc.

When we practice these techniques for ourselves and support others to do the same, we can build our resistance – and ultimately strength – which enables us to overcome any challenges that come away easily and effortlessly.

Be empowered.

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