Daily Archives: 02/06/2015

Drinking shame and our responses

So as you know I’ve been following Tami Simon’s Sounds True Self-Acceptance Project which I would really recommend!  This entire series has been so good in helping me resolve some of my lingering shame around my drinking and has helped lift my self-esteem and sense of self-worth and is completely free!


As part of this Brene Brown does a superb talk on developing shame resilience and during it she looks more closely at how we respond to shaming experiences.  In all of her lectures I’ve seen I’d never heard this before so thought it would be worth sharing here.

She describes us having three ways of responding to shame.  We:

  • move away
  • move towards
  • move against

So to move away means to hide or avoid.  This one really struck me.  When we get sick of making an arse of ourselves in public because of our drinking, we isolate.  We still have shame but it becomes a very private shame – which is perhaps worse and harder to get out of for us.  It is so corrosive to our self-worth.

To move towards means we go into people pleasing.  You know when you crawl around someone because you sense you did something wrong and you need to make amends.   You effectively creep or suck up to them.  Yep been there done that.

And then move against means you turn your shame outwards as a weapon.  Eeek done this too!  As my drinking got worse I found myself becoming more and more cynical and bitchy and cruel not just to myself inside my head but to others around me.  I wore my shame almost like a shield.

When we move against, doing any kind of self-compassion or meditative practice became impossible because I would laugh it off and belittle it as ‘woo woo’ and then drink later to cover my self-hatred for behaving and feeling like that.  I was just a massive ball of bravado with a small child crying in the middle of me who didn’t know how to get out.  Who didn’t know how to make it stop and was very afraid.

So Brene wisely says we need to build shame resilience.  For me step 1 of this was taking the leap of faith and stopping drinking.

Her 4 step guide is:

  1. Recognise your shame and your triggers.  How does it feel in your body as you will have a physical response as it is essentially a trauma response.
  2. Practice critical awareness and reality check self messages and expectations
  3. Reach out and tell your story
  4. Make amends

For Brene she says when she experiences shame she has to get away from other people and give herself 15 minutes to regroup.  In that time she doesn’t type, text or talk.  This is because this is when we are likely to act out our shame and move against whoever is around us.

I found all of this deeply reassuring and helpful as it put words to my past experience and tools to deal with it moving forward.  Did you know that I love Brene Brown’s work? 😉

What do you think?  Does any of this resonate for you too?

Edited to add: awoke to the sad and tragic news that Charles Kennedy had died.  RIP Charles and this is by far the best that I have read so far today.