MSC and role it can play in shame resilience

3000 puppy smileSession Details - October, 2017. We started with a mindfulness practice followed by the heart practice of Compassion for self and others. Our discussion explored the findings of Brené Brown around shame reslience and the key role MSC can play in building this. 

‘To be in harmony with the oneness of life, is to be without anxiety about imperfections’ - zen

I think this photo from Animals Australia speaks to this zen quote beautifully!

“I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Jung

These two sayings make sense right? MSC invites us to stay human and to be realistic about what that means, bringing compassion to the struggles this being human involves. So why do we all still have parts of us that we fear showing to others, that we resist coming to harmony with? Perhaps it is time to bring our kindly curiousity to this?

Knowing one another is very precious. At the moment of death, the only thing that really matters is the condition of your heart.’ – Michael Stone

So what do you feel in your heart really matters?

‘The most important thing is to remember the most important thing.’ – Suzuki Roshi

So what is the most important thing? Society may tell us it is:
• How we look
• Career / status
• Money
• Possessions
• The right clothes
• Being perfect
The result of holding these as ‘the most important thing’ is being a slave to our deathly/primal fear of not fitting in – by not being perfect enough, having enough – therefore not respected - not loved. Once again, it is not my or your fault; it is the dangerous combinations of the tricky human brain (hard-wired to be hypersensitive to any danger of not fitting in) and a society that is individual focussed rather than community focussed.

Notes from Brené Brown: ‘Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.’
1. We all have it. Shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions that we experience.
2. We’re all afraid to talk about it.
3. The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.

Language around shame:
Guilt is I did something bad, shame is I am bad.
Humiliation is when you do not feel you deserved a certain treatment or outcome, shame is where you feel you do deserve it.
Embarrassment is normally fleeting, you can talk about it and eventually it’s funny.

Shame resilience:
Shame resilience is a strategy for building connection and empathy, because shame resistance is not possible. It requires us to embrace our vulnerability, checking in with gender specific cultural norms – questioning them and our internalised messages regarding them. In her research Brené found that there were four elements to shame resilience:

1. Recognising shame and understanding it’s triggers. Feeling into the body and understanding the messages and expectations that triggered it.
2. Practicing critical awareness. Reality checking the messages and expectations that are driving shame. Are they realistic? Attainable? Are they compassionate?
3. Reaching out. Owning and sharing your story, to truly experience empathy.
4. Speaking shame. Language and story bring light to shame and allow you to get your needs met. If you own the story you get to write the ending.

The role of the compassionate inner voice:
I am ok, we all make mistakes – it’s normal, I’ve got my back, and know this too will pass.
Being vulnerable is courageous – I just showed great courage.
I know this feeling; I am not alone in this feeling. Right now I am feeling my humanness.
What do I need to hold this? What would love do? What would I offer a loved one?

The enough mandate:
Shame, comparison and disengagement all feed the core belief of scarcity – not being enough.
Believing that we are enough can transform the protective armour we can build around our sense of self, freeing us from what the meditation teacher Tara Brach refers to as the trance of unworthiness.
• I am enough (worthiness versus shame).
• I’ve had enough (boundaries versus one-uping and comparison).
• Showing up, taking risks and letting myself be seen is enough (engagement as opposed to disengagement).

In practicing shame resilience – ‘vulnerability is the path and courage is the light’ (B. Brown) we need the courage to support and love ourselves and each other:

1. Criticism/judgement Kindness - loving
2. Isolation/feeling disconnected Common humanity - Connected
3. Over-identification Mindfulness - Presence

Source: Brené Brown, ‘Daring Greatly, how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead’, 2012, Penguin Random House, UK. 

Comments from participants

“I have found mindfulness a key to coping." 

“Learning to be still and kind to myself." 

“Tina, you create a safe, warm, kind and comfortable environment."

“I could not think of a better way to start my week." 

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