The Shame Trigger Questions

Brene Brown:

“How do we start to recognize our shame triggers?

What do we need to do to start acknowledging our vulnerabilities?

I think we begin by examining each of the shame categories and trying to unearth the unwanted identities that cause us shame.

As I was interviewing both men and women, many of the same phrases kept coming up in the interviews—the ones that I heard over and over were “I don’t want to be seen as . . .” and “I don’t want people to think I’m . . .”

There were many variations on this including, “I would die if people thought I was . . .” or “I couldn’t stand people thinking I’m . . .”

As these phrases indicate, shame is about perception.

Shame is how we see ourselves through other people’s eyes.

When I interviewed women about shame experiences, it was always about “how others see me” or “what others think.”

And often, there is even a disconnect between who we want to be and how we want to be perceived.

For example, one woman in her seventies told me, “I’m OK when I’m alone.

I know I’m changing. I know things are slowing down and everything is not what it used to be.

I just can’t stand the thought of others seeing it and dismissing me as a person.

Being dismissed is shameful.

To help us begin to recognize some of our shame triggers, let’s look at the questions I use in my workshop sessions. We start with these fill-in-the-blank statements, which should be answered separately for each of the shame categories:

I want to be perceived as __, _____, _________________, ___________ and __________. I do NOT want to be perceived as ______, ____, ___, ______ or ___.

These are fairly simple statements; however, when you start to think about these questions in relation to the twelve shame categories, this can be a probing and powerful start to the process.

But it’s important to remember that it is only a start.

As I’ve said throughout the book, there are no easy answers or quick fixes.”

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