Dr. Kate Truitt & Associates

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For Flipping the Script on Shame

Self-Acceptance in the Face of Judgment or Shame

In this video, Dr. Kate describes how experiences such as chronic pain/illness, depression, and anxiety go hand in hand with feelings of shame and judgment.

She goes on to explain that even though life is hard and complicated, life is also still full of opportunities for self-healing. Since shame and judgement create barriers/roadblocks to living a fulfilling life, Dr. Kate shares an approach to addressing these hard moments that she uses in her own practice.

This is the process of accepting the cards you were dealt in life or in specific moments by saying to yourself, “This is what it is.” Of course, this is much easier said than done, but it is ultimately worth it to ground ourselves in the present moment and remind ourselves of our self-worth.

This practice allows you to actually give yourself permission to struggle and be “as you are” in the moment. When you accept this struggle, you are more likely to search for ways to gently alleviate your suffering and practice self-care. This should be your priority in moments such as these.

A Self-Havening Guided Meditation for Releasing Judgment and Shame

This is a guided meditation to support the mind/body in releasing shame or judgment and moving into a state of grounded self-acceptance/presence. Dr. Kate will invite you to float back gently and lovingly to an experience where you felt shame, or where you criticized/judged yourself for an action taken.

Instead of identifying with the memory, gripping, and holding on tightly to it, she encourages you to take a bird’s eye view and treat it as if it was a video that you can rewind/fast-forward. By viewing the memory as truly in the past, something that you can look back on and play through, you are letting your amygdala know that the moment has ended..

Dr. Kate also invites you to examine what real, tangible, physical sensations arise when you are reminded of this moment and explains that this physical experience is a data point that your mind has encoded to make you pay attention to what is happening. The physical experience has no actual meaning other than what is applied by your thinking mind and driven by your survival brain. You of course then can create your own meaning instead, after all, it is decided and defined by you.

Lastly, Dr. Kate encourages you to imagine talking to your past self that recently survived this experience of shame or judgement, and think of what wisdom you can impart, now that you have the knowledge you do..Dr. Kate will help you to use breathing exercises that will further enhance relaxation.

Self-Havening Meditation for Releasing Painful Emotions & Building Compassion

Do you desire to change your relationship with the parts of yourself that you judge or feel ashamed of? In this guided meditation, Dr. Kate will walk you through visualizing these parts of yourself as boxes that you’ve set aside, off in a faraway corner of your mind. She invites you to pick them up one by one and bring them into the present moment in order to question their origins and validity. Dr. Kate encourages you to recognize that these parts of yourself were meant to keep you safe, and this job might not need to be done anymore.

Imagine being in a positive relationship with these parts of yourself. Imagine inviting these parts of yourself to envision doing their job in a different way, maybe they’re no longer needed in the present moment.

Dr. Kate will help you to imagine with all your senses and to use breathing exercises that will further enhance relaxation. This calming video will take you to a safe space within your mind’s eye where you can appreciate the beauty of what your very own visualization can create.

Why We Feel Shame and How to Turn it Into Empowerment

In this video, Dr. Kate dives deeply into the origins of shame and why it is so prevalent in our daily lives. For example, she mentions that the most significant human phobia is fear of public speaking, and this is due in part to shame.

Dr. Kate then explains that humans are actually hard-wired to experience feelings of shame. This is how we maintained safety/trust/loyalty with our fellow tribe members, and ultimately led to the development of our instinct for shame. In other words, shame is our brain trying to keep us alive, and after all, staying alive is all our survival brain cares about. Shame keeps us alive because humans rely on community.

Though we can acknowledge that purpose of our survival brain is not always needed. We can change the meaning of shame for us. Dr. Kate initiates this by inviting you to ask the questions, “Why is this shame here?”, “Have I legitimately done something that puts me at risk of rejection?”, and “Am I bringing an experience from my past into the present moment?”

Granted, shame does help keep us in alignment with general social norms, though it is worth asking, “Do those social norms work for me?”, “Is this a community that I want to belong to?”

This is giving us the agency and personal empowerment to choose.

Stop Shame and Take your Power Back! (TikTok)

In this video, Dr. Kate Truitt helps you understand the origins of shame and why they are important to our survival, which is key to our ability to “flip the script” on shame and take your power back on the road to healing and self-compassion.

Stop Shame and Take Your Power Back!

By Dr. Kate Truitt

How does it make you feel when you hear the words shame or ashamed? Or how about rejected, abandoned or alone? These are all very powerful words that usually elicit strong emotional responses from people, and they all have their roots in that first word: shame.

Shame also has ties to one of the greatest fears we humans have, not of death or serious injury, but the fear of public speaking. Within public speaking lie the possibilities that you could screw up, be ridiculed, rejected, abandoned, and left feeling alone with the weight of shame bearing down on you.

Understanding the Roots of Shame

It is important for us to understand where these deeply painful emotional experiences originate, because in the acknowledgement of their roots we find opportunities for recovery and healing. What we’re realizing in the fields of neuroscience and evolutionary psychology is that when we feel shame it is because our brain is saying, “I just need to stay alive.”

So, what if we look at shame in another way? Imagine that shame was some counterintuitive way that our mind and body is keeping us safe. Imagine that shame had some inherent properties that are self-compassionate and self-loving. No need to imagine because within shame lies both of these things, and we humans are hard-wired to feel shame, even though it is an indescribably awful feeling when we are being shamed by others or, worse, are shaming ourselves.

Staying "Small" to STAY SAFE

Staying alive is all our survival brain cares about and shame helps us stay that way because one of the ways we humans stay alive is by relying on community. In Yuval Noah Harari’s book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, the Cognitive Revolution, the historian and philosopher explains that this revolution began about 70,000 years ago, and fundamentally changed where humans are placed in the food chain of mammals. The cause of this revolution? Our human relationships and the ability of humans to gossip. Not totally kidding here, because the ability we developed to chat about our peers gave us a way to assess which tribe members were on our side and which ones weren’t. From these interactions we learned where we placed our trust and loyalty, and where we didn’t, so we could lessen the chances of being rejected and abandoned.

Shame is a very painful neurobiological process that our minds and our bodies manifest as a way to ensure that we stay “small” and therefore safe. Shame is all about staying alive and it is the way our brains and bodies both protect us and love us.

Turning the tables on shame

This gives us the opportunity to flip the script on shame and take our power back. The next time you feel shame, I’d like you to give yourself a pat on the back for being survival-focused. Give your brain a high-five for keeping you safe when you’re feeling shame and then lean in with self-healing and self-love to change the narrative around the shame.

Shame is so driven by external reflections of value tied into security and how we need to be in the world to be accepted. So, when we high-five our brains for feeling shame (while recognizing that shame is designed to keep us safe and OK), we open up a new opportunity for changing our relationship with the emotional experience as well as well as the behavioral world we embody when we are in a state of shame or even a shame spiral.

When you find yourself in those situations, ask yourself a few questions:

Why is this data point here? That is, why is this yellow flag from my amygdala showing up that feels like shame?

Is this appropriate? Have I done something that truly puts me at risk for rejection or being removed from a village of people that matters to me?

Am I bringing an experience from my past into the present moment?

That last question is important because we know that Amy the amygdala is really adept at sourcing up past experiences and driving them into your present-day life, and often they don’t belong in the present moment. And finally, on that note, it may be important to ask:

Is this a village I really want or need to belong to anymore?

This is critical to ask, especially when we are feeling shame, because we often have villages, or circles of people, that served us in the past but are no longer serving us in our present lives. In these situations, it may well be time to decide if we need a new village. It is often a tough decision, but it can be critical to us living our best lives going forward.

When we do all of this, we can put power back in our hands and start to take proactive steps to create changes that are not influenced by shame, but by self-love and self-compassion.

For more on how to challenge and release shame and judgment, along with meditations and exercises to help your brain and body when you are experiencing them, please take a few moments to visit the videos in the sidebar to this article