shame resilience

Getting rid of your shame and disgrace.

The Voice of Shame

The voice of shame is cruel, insensitive, demeaning, degrading and destructive. It strips us of hope for a positive future and it poisons our perspective, damages our sense of power and robs us of fulfilling our potential and purpose. Shame deceives us into believing we are inherently bad, unwanted, unlovable, undesirable and unworthy of unconditional love, acceptance, and belonging.

If you are familiar with the character Miss Hattie from the movie Despicable Me, you can hear the voice of shame loud and clear—particularly when she tells Edith “You’re never gonna get adopted, Edith. You know that, don’t you?” And poor 8-year-old Edith aligns with this lie by saying, “Yeah, I know.”


The sad truth is so many of us are just like little Edith. We incline our ears to the voice of shame that screams you’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough, successful enough, capable enough, competent enough or perfect enough—you’re never gonna be loved, belong or be accepted.” And like Edith, we agree with shame and say—“Yeah, I know.”


Shame. The Silent Epidemic

Shame researcher Dr. Brene Brown refers to shame as a silent epidemic because it’s associated with internalizing and externalizing disorders such as depression, anxiety, addiction, and violence. In her book “I thought it was just me but it isn’t”, Brene shares how studies have identified shame as the “dominant emotion experienced by mental health clients, exceeding anger, fear, grief, and anxiety (pages 3-4).” Because shame is such a destructive device of the enemy—we need to expose it so we can effectively know how to oppose it.



According to Brene’s research, there are 12 categories that women feel the most shame (page 73):


  1. Appearance/body image
  2. Motherhood
  3. Family
  4. Parenting
  5. Money/Work
  6. Mental and Physical health
  7. Sex
  8. Aging
  9. Religion
  10. Being stereotyped and labeled
  11. Speaking out 
  12. Surviving trauma 

Becoming Shame Resilient

The reality is every human being has experienced (or will experience) the deeply disturbing feeling of shame.

But the most important question we must ask ourselves isn’t “how can I avoid shame?” The most important question is, “how can I become more shame resilient? Before I share Brene’s shame resilience framework with you, I want to share one of my own shame stories with you. Listen to My Story below.

After you listen, consider the following questions and prompts below by Dr. Brene Brown to help you strengthen your shame resilience. 


Self-Reflection Zone


Recognizing Shame and understanding your triggers:

    • I physically feel shame in/on my _______________________.
    • I know I’m in shame when I feel  _______________________.

Practicing Critical Awareness:

    • Which of the 12 categories do I feel the most shame? (see list above.) ________________________.
    • I want to be perceived as ________________________. (list 3-5 wanted identities)
    • I do NOT want to be perceived as ____________________. (list 3-5 unwanted identities).
    • I’m most likely to ‘move away’ when: _______________________.
    • I’m most likely to ‘move toward’ when:_______________________.
    • I’m most likely to ‘move against’ when:_______________________.

Reaching out and telling our story:

    • Which safe and compassionate people can I reach out to hear my story and provide me with the emotional support I need when I’m experiencing shame? _______________________
      • _______________________
      • _______________________

Additional Resources and Encouragement 

  • Listen to Christine Caine’s story HERE
  • Check out Brene’s self-reflection worksheet on shame resilience HERE



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