The price of shame and the hope of overcoming the suffering it causes through empathy and compassion.

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In the Mindful self-compassion programme we teach practices that help you turn towards difficult, strong emotions and meet them with compassion.

Shame is one of those emotions we take a deeper look at and work with. Shame is a universal emotion and underlies strong emotions such as anger and fear. If we learn to manage shame we can move towards a resolution of many emotional and relational conflicts. We teach “how self-compassion is an antidote to shame”. We are social beings and being accepted by others is something that we work hard towards, and spend a great deal of effort trying to avoid rejection. We can feel negatively about ourselves through ‘negative core beliefs- these are limited in number and are universal- there is common humanity in that! Public humiliation is something that we might dread and go to great lengths to avoid. However in the increasingly inter-connected world of on-line sharing we live in, public humiliation seems to feed into the vicious cycle of cyber bullying.

In her moving and brave TED talk speech last week 12 March 2015 entitled“The price of shame”Monica Lewinsky received a standing ovation. This was a well deserved response to a brave and powerful speech about cyber bullying, shame, and humiliation, and how empathy and compassion can help overcome its devastating effects.  She bravely gave her account of personal suffering from shame and public humiliation, and referred to a number of studies, including a 2014 study which showed “humiliation to be a more intensly felt emotion than either happiness or even anger”.

Recalling the pain and suffering she endured and the reason for breaking her ’10-year silence’ she spoke openly about the shift that is needed in the ‘culture of humiliation’ “We need to return to a long-held value of compassion, compassion and empathy, online we’ve got a compassion deficit and an empathy crisis” and she quoted Brene Brown saying “Shame cannot survive empathy”

She continued “I’ve seen some very dark times in my life, it was the compassion and empathy from my family, friends, professionals, and sometimes even strangers that saved me” She continued to share her strategy for overcoming the pain of shame and humilitation and spoke about the need to “Have some compassion for yourself”.

Fear of failure and/or  criticism – internal and external  can hold us back and limit our ability and capacity for positive change and creativity, so with this in mind I would like to share with you a couple of clips onSelf-compassion with the wonderfulKristin Neffandmanaging the fear of criticism   with the inspiringBrene Brownthat are well worth watching.

You might also like to have a listen in on an interview I did in December 2014 on the benefits of self- compassion. The interview starts and runs for the last hour of the show so move the cursor to 2:00:00 to listen in to my interview or just listen to the whole show if you like- it’s all good stuff!