6: Building Shame Resilience

Welcome to Section 6 of our course. Today, we’ll focus on building resilience against shame. Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity or stress. It involves enduring difficult experiences and bouncing back from them.

When it comes to shame, resilience allows us to experience the feeling, acknowledge it, and then move forward without letting it define or control us. Developing resilience is a personal journey, but there are common factors that make people more resilient, including positive relationships, a positive self-image, and the capacity for emotional regulation.

Here, we’ll explore techniques to build resilience against shame:

1. Cultivate Positive Relationships: Build a support network of trusted friends, family, or mentors who can provide comfort, practical advice, and different perspectives when you’re dealing with feelings of shame.

2. Foster Self-Esteem: Engage in activities that you enjoy and excel at. Regularly affirm your abilities and achievements. This will help reinforce a positive self-image and counteract feelings of shame.

3. Develop Emotional Regulation Skills: Learn to manage and express your feelings in a healthy manner. Techniques like deep breathing, mindfulness, and cognitive reframing, which we’ve discussed earlier, can be particularly helpful here.

4. Seek Professional Help: Therapists or counsellors can provide valuable tools to understand and deal with shame, helping you build resilience.

Daily Change Reflective Excercise

Reflective Exercise:

Consider a situation where you successfully coped with shame or a situation that you believe you could have handled differently. Reflect on the resilience techniques mentioned above and how they could have been applied or were applied in the situation. What could you do differently in the future? Write about this in your journal.

Example: Last week at a team meeting, my boss pointed out a mistake I had made in front of everyone. I immediately felt shame flooding in – my face turned hot, and I wished I could disappear. The rest of the day, I kept replaying the situation and criticising myself harshly.

Upon reflection, I realise there were different ways I could have handled this situation using the resilience techniques we’ve discussed:

1. Cultivating Positive Relationships: After the meeting, I isolated myself, which only amplified my feelings of shame. Instead, I could have reached out to a trusted colleague to talk about the incident, which would have helped me get a different perspective and some much-needed comfort.

2. Fostering Self-Esteem: I was quick to label myself as incompetent because of a single mistake. I now realise the importance of consciously affirming my abilities and achievements to maintain a balanced view of myself. Next time, I’ll remind myself of the numerous successful projects I’ve completed and the skills I’ve developed over the years.

3. Developing Emotional Regulation Skills: My response was to suppress my feelings of shame and criticism. A healthier approach would be to acknowledge these feelings without judgement and use techniques like deep breathing and cognitive reframing to manage my emotional reaction.

4. Seeking Professional Help: This incident made me realise that I often respond to criticism with intense shame. Seeking help from a professional, like a therapist or counsellor, could provide me with additional strategies to deal with these feelings and help me build resilience against shame.

In the future, I plan to actively apply these techniques to manage situations that trigger feelings of shame more effectively. I understand that it’s a learning process, and it’s okay if I don’t get it perfect immediately.

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Daily Change Main Takeaways

  1. Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity, including the experience of shame.
  2. Building resilience involves cultivating positive relationships, fostering self-esteem, developing emotional regulation skills, and potentially seeking professional help.
  3. Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviours, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed by anyone.

In the next and final section, we’ll focus on maintaining resilience and how to continue progressing on this journey towards overcoming shame. You’ve come a long way, keep up the good work!