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