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Writing Out Shame

Is this workshop for me?

  • I want to explore difficult feelings and memories in a creative way.
  • I have low self esteem.
  • I think everything is my fault.
  • I have never felt good enough.
  • I feel unlovable.

‘Shame is the most disturbing experience individuals ever have about themselves; no other emotion feels more deeply disturbing because in the moment of shame the self feels wounded from within.’ (Gershen Kaufman)

What is shame?

Shame is the underlying feeling that there is something intrinsically wrong’ with us – ‘I am bad, not good enough, unlovable’. Shame holds us back from life − affecting our relationships, our work, and our ability to care for ourselves.

Shamed individuals are vigilant and fearful of being exposed as unworthy human beings. Shame keeps us in a constant state of self-blame, and can lead to perfectionism or hypersensitivity to criticism from others.

What are the signs of shame?

Some of the signs we have a ‘shame story’ about ourselves are reflected in our thinking, our behaviour and our ability to manage our emotions.

Thinking may include:

  • I’m not good enough.
  • I am unworthy.
  • I am unlovable.
  • I can’t trust my own decisions.
  • I have to be perfect, or I will be ‘found out’.
  • Nothing good will ever happen to me – I am bad.

Behaviour may include:

  • Addiction – includes eating disorders, drug/alcohol dependency and gambling.
  • People-pleasing behaviours.
  • Submissiveness.
  • Obsessive behaviours.
  • Avoidance of intimacy and/or choosing unsuitable partners.

Emotions may include:

  • Depression.
  • Anger.
  • Anxiety.
  • Feelings of helplessness.
  • Self-loathing.

Shame and the power of writing, mindfulness and self-compassion

bushThis workshop will introduce you to mindfulness, self-compassion and expressive writing as tools to understand and reframe shame stories, which usually originate in childhood.

Expressive writing helps us discover and identify old shame stories by rewriting and reframing these stories so that they no longer have the power to hurt us and limit our lives. The writing exercises explore the past, the present and the future to create a new story where we live without shame.

Mindfulness trains us to be in the present moment, exactly as it is, without judgement. This is particularly important with shame. As we learn how to experience shame as an emotion, we notice it is a feeling, or a thought, rather than our identity.

In the writing process, which can bring up challenging emotions, mindfulness lets us observe these emotions as feelings that pass, rather than as facts about who we are.

Self-compassion is another critical aspect of this workshop. When our life is filled with shame, we live in self-hatred, self-criticism and disdain – for our bodies, our behaviour, our feelings and our sense of self. Self-compassion helps us build a foundation opposite to shame – one where we can love, accept and develop a healthy loving relationship with ourselves.

What to expect in the workshop

The workshop will introduce you to a variety of tools to explore your ‘shame story,’ its origins and its impact on your life both in the, past and present and to help you to discover a way to rewrite and reframe these stories so they no longer damage you.

Our conversation will focus on what we learn as we use these new tools and techniques to help us uncover shame and bring it into the open. We will not discuss the content of our shaming stories, nor we will blame those we feel have shamed us.

Other comments, questions

I am fearful about exploring shame, it feels too big, I am afraid I will feel overwhelmed.

Shame is a difficult area to explore but evidence shows that writing, mindfulness and self-compassion are all useful tools to help us through the pain. If you feel overwhelmed you will be encouraged to use writing and self-compassion strategies in the group.

Sometimes these workshops encourage us to get more support from a therapist or to more actively pursue writing and mindfulness to support us in the longer term. If you are living with shame you are already experiencing pain and feelings of being overwhelmed and the workshop will give you an opportunity to find a pathway through.

Shame seems like a big word – I am not sure I belong in this group. I am just anxious, not very confident and am a bit of a perfectionist.

All of us experience shame and for some of us it becomes toxic and debilitating. However, we can all relate to feelings of being ‘bad’, ‘unlovable’ or ‘not worthy’. Anxiety, low self-esteem and perfectionism are often signs of how shame may be holding us back. Learning to reframe our experiences will increase our ability to participate fully in our lives.

I feel so unworthy and I won’t feel comfortable in a group.

When we are shamed we want to hide from ourselves and the world. We often have social anxiety – we are fearful that others will see our damaged self.

As a psychologist and facilitator I am committed to ensuring that the workshop space is safe, confidential and has a range of exercises to encourage everyone’s participation. The power of working with shame in a group in this creative way is that simply by spending a morning with others with similar challenges can often reduce our sense of aloneness and shame.

Live a life without shame with writing as a guide

If you are interested in joining this workshop contact me.

This workshop is open to anyone who wants to discover how writing and mindfulness can help us identify, name and re-story our old shame stories. Shame is that underlying feeling that there is something ‘wrong’ with us, we are ‘never good enough’. Often shame is present where there is anger, depression, fear or obsessive thinking. Learn how to free yourself from these old stories and live more fully. Learn more about this Workshop.

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