Shedding Shame


Shame, it’s a word we’ve all heard, but what does it mean? By definition shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong behaviour. But that definition doesn’t really describe the shame associated with trauma, because that shame is brought on by someone or something else.

“Shame starts out by being something we receive from another, but eventually we do it to ourselves.” — Kim Barthel from ‘Conversations With A Rattlesnake’

Shame surrounds the minds of many people who have experienced trauma, and it can have a seemingly tight grip on our lives and our healing.

“Shame is like crazy glue that keeps us stuck. It’s the one barrier to healing; it gets in the way of getting better.” — Theo Fleury from ‘Conversations With A Rattlesnake’

Kim Barthel writes in ‘Conversations With A Rattlesnake’ that shame gets its power from secrecy [Chapter 8: Shame Revisits], so how can we take power away from shame? In short: we talk, we share, we have a conversation.

When we become shameful of our truths, we end up cutting off, discrediting, and devaluing a hugely important chunk of who we are and how we show up in the world. By telling someone, I felt a shift—as if a spell was being broken. — Sarah Louise Byrne, Tiny Buddha

So find someone you trust, and try sharing. Keeping your secret will give power to shame and power to the person(s) who traumatized you. If you want some guidance on how to share, you may want to check out some of the other posts on our blog.

If you’re interested in being part of a conversation about healing, forgiveness and mental health, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can find out more about ‘Conversations With A Rattlesnake’ on our website.

 – Written by Amber Craig
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