Shame/less Series

Communities free from shame

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Communities free from shame

I’m not fine…how are you? Imagine being able to go into work, sit down with family members, or even respond to a stranger’s query with an honest response on one of your more unhappy days. And imagine what it would be like to receive, instead of a perplexed grimace—you know what I’m talking about, the I-want-to-be-polite-but-I-really-DON’T-want-to-be-here look—being met with compassion, maybe even a “that sucks, what’s going on?” Maybe you already have that, maybe you even live in a family, or a neighborhood or work community where that’s the deal. Hallelujah! You are...

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Simply Pride

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Simply Pride

SHAME’S OPPOSITE A child of four runs around the house, flying a towel above his naked body like a sail, shouting “I’m MEEEE!” Arms flung wide, he knows no shame…and why should he? In his home, there is the safety and love of adoring parents. What should we call what he is experiencing? Pride? Certainly a great deal of self satisfaction, an expectation that he will be acknowledged, seen as special. Arrogance does not come to mind, and yet my clients shy from shame’s opposite for fear of being seen as, or even becoming, “too full” of themselves. For me, arrogance seems to...

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Shame Part 2: Psychological Perfectionism

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Shame Part 2: Psychological Perfectionism

Inappropriate… Don’t you love the word? It says everything and nothing. Of course, we therapists love to weigh in on our own versions of what’s appropriate – what’s acceptable to thought or behavior. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a dirty word, used far more in our profession to hurt, to shame, then to help. I’ve got a personal thing against the word. In my 16th year and stuck at a once-prestigious school, I’m eating dinner in a full dining room with a friends, and start singing to break up the stifling atmosphere. Not loudly, mind you, but there are songs that should be...

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Shame on you.

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Shame on you.

Shame on you. Wow. Just notice how those three little words can ruin a good day. Feel them in your body, and observe how your physical self cringes. And yet, for every external message of shame we receive, how many more do we deliver to ourselves? In order to heal our shame, we must understand it. Shame, at its core, is good. Yes, good. We want to feel shame when we think about hitting another in a moment of fury. We want it to stay our hand. We live in a world of others, are designed at our deepest mammalian level to crave connection. Shame warns us that we are, potentially or actually,...

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