My previous couple of articles looked at recovery from shame after trauma. And a reminder that we are not talking about the emotion of guilt, not that WE did anything wrong, but nonetheless an extremely common symptom of trauma. New research has shown that using self compassion to heal shame can be extremely powerful.
An exercise to increase self-compassion
Sit down in a comfortable chair where you won’t be disturbed for about 20 minutes and take a few slow gentle breaths. When you feel ready
- Think of one of your most shaming experiences from the past. Now think of what you wish someone had said to you right after that experience. What would have been the most helpful and healing for you to hear at that time? Write this statement down on a piece of paper.
- Imagine that someone you care very much about is saying those words to you now. Hear those words in your ears. Take those words into your heart. Notice how those words make you feel.
- Now say those words out loud to yourself. Take a deep breath and really take in those words. How does hearing yourself say those words out loud make you feel?
If you are like most people, hearing those words of compassion can be very healing. In some ways it doesn’t really matter that you are hearing them now rather than at the time. What matters is that you let the words in now—that you experience both the compassion from someone else and that you provide self-compassion toward yourself.
The work of Brené Brown
The researcher and writer Brené Brown has done more than anyone else in recent times to bring the whole concept of shame and recovery from shame to a wide audience. She also recommends using self compassion to heal shame. We all carry it, not just those who have experienced trauma and I highly recommend both her book and TEDtalk on the topic:
Book: I thought it was just me (but it isn’t) Making the journey from ‘what will people think ?’ to ‘I am enough’ by Brené Brown
Need some advice and support?
If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in this article, or indeed any other emotional issues or life challenges and would like to talk things over in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.
Book a counselling session today!