Emotions And Feelings (Cont.11)

8. When things fall short (can cause shame, self-compassion, perfectionism, guilt, humiliation, embarrassment)

    a) shame is an intense painful feeling or experience borne of believing that you are flawed, and not worthy of love, belonging and connection; it is a social, egocentric, self-involved emotion; the focus is on oneself, not behaviours; it is judgmental, ie feel you deserve a sense of unworthiness; it is visceral and contagious; linked with humiliation (neither are effective social justice tools); it is not a driver of positive change; it is linked with connection, like love and belonging (this gives purpose and meaning to your lives, ie why you are here); it thrives on loneliness, secrecy, silence and judgement;

"...shame is the fear of disconnection - it's the fear that something we've done or failed to do, an ideal that we've not live up to, or a goal that we have not accomplished, making us unworthy of connection..."
Brené Brown, 2021

Sometimes you need to discharge the discomfort and vulnerability by blaming and scolding, ie What were you thinking? How did you let this happen? Who else can you blame?

Background to shame

        i) everybody has experienced it - shame is universal

        ii) one of the most primitive emotions that you experience.

        iii) it is linked with empathy and human connection

        iv) it is an undiscussable in general conversation

        v) the less you talk about it, the more control it has over you

        vi) it happens to other people, not yourselves

The antidote to shame is empathy and self-compassion, ie being kind to yourself by being warm and understanding to yourselves when you fail, suffer, feel inadequate, etc; keep away from self-criticism

"...Self-compassionate people recognise that being imperfect means failing when experiencing life difficulties......so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals..."
Kristin Neff as quoted by Brené Brown, 2021

Do not over-identify with thoughts and feelings that can result in negative reactivity (see www.self-compassion.org)

Four elements of shame resilience:

        i) recognise shame and understand its triggers, ie use mindfulness to recognise shame and its triggers

        ii) practise critical awareness, ie reality check the messages and expectations that are driving the shame (Are they realistic? Are they what you want?)

        iii) reach out, ie

"... Are you owning and sharing your story? We can't experience empathy if you are not connecting..."
Brené Brown, 2021

        iv) speak shame, ie

"...are you talking about how you feel and asking for what you need when you feel shame? Silence, secrecy, and judgement fuel shame..."
Brené Brown, 2021

Shame in culture

The word shame is mis-used regularly

NB "...shame is not the cure, it is the cause. Don't let what looks like a bloated ego and narcissism fool you into thinking there's a lack of shame. Shame and fear are almost always driving that unethical behaviour......shame fuels narcissistic behaviour......define narcissism as shame-based fear of being ordinary. Grandiosity and bluster are easy to assign to an overinflated ego..."
Brené Brown, 2021

Remember: fear and lack of self-worth are behind posturing and selfishness and leads to weaponising hurt and turning it on other people; you need to be accountable for your behaviour, including lack of empathy; people can use shame to redirect attention and even drum up support as a way to discharge their pain and find someone else to blame; shame is not a compass of moral behaviour, as it is more likely encouraging the wrong behaviour as empathy is missing

"...shame and empathy are incompatible. When feeling shame......overrides our ability to think about another person's experience. We become unable to offer him empathy. We are incapable of processing information about the other person, unless that information specifically contains to their view of us..."
Brené Brown, 2021

"...There is a difference between 'feeling shame' and 'shaming someone'. Holding people accountable for hurtful behaviour in a respectful and productive way can make them feel shame, ie embarrassed about their behaviour; as against shaming them which can cause them to feel pain, hurt, anger, etc..."
Brené Brown, 2021

"...Unwanted identity is the most powerful elicitor of shame.."
Brené Brown, 2021

How to trigger shame by completing the following sentence

"...It is really important for me to not be perceived as..........."
Brené Brown, 2021

    b) self-compassion has 3 elements:

        i) self-kindness, ie tend to be gentle with themselves when things go wrong; don't become judgmental

        ii) common humanity, ie recognise that suffering and personal inadequacy are a part shared human experience; not something that just happens toyourself, alone
        iii) mindfulness, ie

"...mindfulness is a non-judgemental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them..."
Brené Brown, 2021

     c) perfectionismt is a self-destructive and addictive belief based around misconception

"...If I look perfect, live perfectly, work perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimise painful feelings of shame, judgement blame..."
Brené Brown, 2021

Perfectionism is an illusion - there is no such thing as perfect, it is unattainable; it is a function of shame, judgement and blame, ie 'it's my fault. I'm feeling this way because I'm not good enough'; it is externally driven by the desire to find out what will people think of you; perfectionism works against achieving mastery as the latter requires curiosity, and viewing mistakes and failures as opportunities for learning; perfectionism, in fact, demonstrates that your mistakes and failures are results of personal defects; it is not self-improvement, but trying to earn approval and acceptance; perfectionism can hamper success and lead to depression, anxiety, addiction and live paralysis, ie refers to all the opportunities you missed as you were frightened of making mistakes, failing, disappointing others, etc; it is different from healthy striving, with the latter self-focused, ie how can I improve.

Traits of perfectionism:

        i) doomed to fail as unable to meet unrealistic expectations (includes what you assume are the expectations held by others about you)

        ii) behave in a way that results in perceived and actual exclusion and rejection by others

        iii) feel socially disconnected and have fewer social connections

Need to move away from being a perfectionist to a 'good-enoughist'

Perfectionism can result in social disconnection (see below), ie perfectionism drives you in ways that lead others to leave you alone.

     d) guilt is what you experience when you fall short of your own expectations or standards; the focus is on behaviour; it is a psychologically uncomfortable feeling

"...Guilt is the discomfort we feel when we evaluate what we've done or failed to do against our values. It can drive positive change and behaviour......Empathy and guilt worked together to create a force that is adaptive and powerful..."
Brené Brown, 2021

Remorse is linked to guilt; it is what you feel when you acknowledge that you have harmed somebody else, ie you feel bad about it and want to atone for your behaviour; it is negatively correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, bullying, etc (while shame is highly correlated with these.
Need to be careful of discomfort with blame

    e) humiliation is an intensely painful feeling which occurs when you are unjustly degraded, ridiculed, put down, belittled, etc so that your identity has been demeaned or devalued; being belittled and put down by someone results in you feeling unworthy and self-disgusted; you feel you don't deserve it (different to guilt); can be linked with shame, ie you feel fundamentally flawed; shame can be just personal, while humiliation is public; it arises when someone else points out flaws you feel that you don't deserve to be highlighted, ie feels unjust, ie

"...unjustified mistreatment that violates one's dignity and diminishes one's sense of worth as a human being..."
Linda Hartling as quoted by Brené Brown, 2021

It is interesting to note that a study of the media profiles of 10 prominent school shooters between 1996 and 1999 (USA), found that all of them had been humiliated, ie

"...They had been ridiculed, taunted, teased, harassed or bullied by peers (because of their inadequate appearance, social or athletic behaviour), spurned by someone in whom they were romantically interested, or put down, in front of other students, by a teacher or school administrator..."
Susan Harter as quoted by Brené Brown, 2021

There are links with humiliation and fear rejection, bullying, depression, mania, etc with both suicidal and homicidal ideation; combination of humiliation and bullying can lead to violence; humiliation can trigger a series of reactions including social pain, decreased self-awareness, increased self-defeating behaviour, decreased self-regulation, etc

Humiliation is often an attack against social identity, ie ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, etc.

Social media is amplifying the dehumanising and humiliation of others, along with encouraging violence, ie is becoming the norm.

    f) embarrassment is a fleeting feeling of self-conscious discomfort in response to a minor incident that was witnessed by others; feeling uncomfortable about something you have done or said; everybody feels this; usually short term; sometimes funny; when feeling embarrassed you can feel exposed, flustered clumsy; can be defused by using humour, apologising, moving on and/or acknowledging it, etc.

Some events that trigger embarrassment

"...i) committing a faux pas or social mistake
    ii) being the centre of attention
    iii) being in a sticky social situation..."
Brené Brown, 2021

You can feel embarrassment when you see others in embarrassing situations; embarrassment is linked with the self-conscious ability to understand what others may be thinking of you


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