Monday, November 17, 2014

Must Read Article on How Compassion Can Heal Shame

I found this amazing article on Psychology today entitled, “How Compassion Can Heal Childhood Shame” - if you’ve ever struggled with feeling less-than, this is a must-read article!

In addition to articulate the uncomfortable experience of shame - even how our brains process shame but we have the ability to re-wire them:

And there has been a lot of research recently on the connection between shame and compassion. What was particularly of interest to me was the most recent research in the neurobiology of compassion as it relates to shame—namely that we now know some of the neurobiological correlates of feeling unlovable and how shame gets stuck in our neural circuitry. Moreover, I discovered that due to what we now know about the neural plasticity of the brain—the capacity of our brains to grow new neurons and new synaptic connections—we can proactively repair (and re-pair) the old shame memory with new experiences of self-empathy and self-compassion.

The article goes on to suggest a remedy that literally helps rewire your brain so to repair the shame memory:

In essence, in order to heal your shame (past and present) you need to provide for yourself nurturing, encouraging words to counter the typically self-critical words you normally tell yourself whenever you make a mistake, disappoint yourself or someone else, or in some way fall short of your own or someone else’s expectations. Self-compassion involves telling yourself what you most need to hear at the moment—words of understanding and encouragement.

There are many other aspects of self-compassion. For now, just know that practicing self-compassion can help you:

• Begin to generate compassionate feelings toward yourself and self-soothe yourself in positive ways
• Begin to replace self-criticism with self-kindness
• Begin to create a nurturing inner voice to replace your cold, critical, bullying inner voice
• Begin to generate alternatives to your self-attacking thoughts, including stimulating underdeveloped pathways of the brain—pathways that stimulate inner support and warmth
• Help you to develop appreciation for yourself, including feeling pride in your accomplishments--pride is the opposite emotion from shame
• Encourage you to practice accountability versus self-blame, self-correction versus self-criticism.

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