well being

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There are some powerful strategies to let go of shame

Let’s first start here: what is shame? Shame is an acute feeling of aloneness that comes when we have a perceived break in connection with others. It’s the lived experience of, "I am unlovable" or "No one would want to be with me if they knew this about me." Interestingly, we can feel shame even when we are all by ourselves simply by thinking back to something that left us feeling alienated.

And what about shame in children? Why does shame begin so early? Well, children are actually particularly susceptible to shame because their survival depends on attachment with adult caregivers. As a result, they're particularly attuned to what leaves them feeling alone - and feeling alone is what brings on shame. Think of it this way: Children are always looking to their grownups to try to figure out, "What parts of me bring closeness and safety? What parts of me bring aloneness and danger? Am I good? Am I loveable? Do I make sense?" Shame develops to "keep away" the "bad parts" of a child (of course we know that there are no bad parts! But kids often draw this conclusion when parts of them are continually met with rejection or punishment) - so, actually, shame develops as a form of protection!


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