Notes On SHAME: Trapped In A Toxic, Substitute Life

in psychology •  4 months ago  (edited)

Earlier this year my sister (@tigerrkg) sent me a talk by Tara Brach entitled "Radical Self Acceptance" (Audible link - sorry couldn't find a free version but the 'sample' on Audible covers some of this post's content). Total listening time was a little over three hours and I absorbed it over 3-4 sessions in as many days. At one point I was took some notes. This post is based on those notes.

The topic is 'SHAME'.


The Feeling of Shame:

  • something is basically or fundamentally WRONG with me
  • a sense of deficiency, of lacking something - of being NOT OK
  • Shame = the self-aversion that comes when my 'NOT OK-ness' is exposed (to the world or to myself)
"Shame or Self-Aversion is the most pervasive type of contemporary suffering"

"Paying attention to "Shame/Self-Aversion is a necessary gateway to awakening"

(Tara Brach)

Etymology/Root of Shame:

  • to cover or hide deficiency, even from myself
  • subtle - concealed under anxieties, anger and other feelings of discomfort and dis-ease.

Fear of being exposed. Being exposed as defective is intolerable, therefore strategies are developed. We are conditioned to play out these strategies from a young age. Psychologically this can appear as a 'life or death' issue of survival.


Three strategies for 'dealing with' Shame:

  1. Avoiding shameful feelings ('Flight')
    • suppressing, repressing, denying, numbing ie getting away from the source(s) of dis-Ease
    • addiction (to something that numbs)
    • depression:
      • 'depress' the acuteness of feelings
      • immersed in 'depressive thoughts' around the feelings being avoided/covered/hidden
      • sense of deficiency: "I'm not good enough"
      • gap between who I think I am and who I think I ought to be
    • denial (pretending to be OK; to admit is weakness/defeat).
  2. Pushing away Shame and Shameful Feelings
    • these are intolerable, therefore impetus to attack or defend from anything and anyone that triggers them (internal or external)
    • judging (self and others)
    • pushing away or attacking the triggers (especially those one is 'close' to, ie feels 'comfortable' enough with to 'act out')
  3. Conforming & Pleasing
    • constantly trying to meet (impossible) internal and external 'standards'
    • the sense that something is WRONG and needs to be different (non-acceptance of present)
    • trying to improve, be 'better' - notion of 'hard-work' to make up for not being OK
    • constantly trying to become what/who I am not
    • afraid to take risks; afraid to fail; afraid to be hurt or to make oneself vulnerable

Each of these strategies adds to a sense of deficiency, thus adding further layers of toxic Shame and accentuating the experience of being trapped in a substitute life.

Suffering comes from those parts of the psyche that are ignored and not felt; the parts which are calling out for attention.

Breaking the cycle of Shame

  • What is true NOW?
  • What is asking for Attention?
  • What is asking for Acceptance?

Observe what comes up - Mindfulness
Hold what is observed unconditionally - Love

The deep NEED is to be Seen and to be Accepted (both parts required); to feel Understood and to feel Loved (both parts required). These are unmet needs and yearnings from childhood. Most parents were/are unable to meet these needs of children as their own were never met. Without the Experience of this 'fulfillment' the cycles/patterns get passed on unconsciously.

We (YOU) can understand (Y)ourselves and meet (Y)our own needs, thereby breaking these cycle(s) of Shame.



page divider namaste orange.png

A second audiobook I would like to share is Wherever You Go There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn. This is almost exactly as long as Radical Self Acceptance and I find the two to be compatible and complementary.

An effective way to understand and release Shame is through Mindfulness/Meditation. If you have wondered about these concepts or feel you have not had much 'success' at it, it is possible that JKZ will cut through that sense of inadequacy with this sharply intuitive and intelligent, gentle and extremely powerful layout in simple, compassionate, inspirational and no-bullshit lingo.

page divider namaste orange.png



Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  

Highly rEsteem3d!

SHAMEless self promotion my friend ; )

Screen Shot 2019-05-19 at 1.01.32 PM.png

Ha ha, thanks Frank.....some of the other candidates for the hidden faces of 'shame-no-more' 🔆 🔆 🔆

I love these questions:
What is true NOW?
What is asking for Attention?
What is asking for Acceptance?

They just completely bring me into the essence of the moment. Really clearly written bhai and amazing acronym! S..H...A..ME

👍 👏 🤗

Thanks for introducing me to Tara Brach behn. Nice you like the acronym, there were various options that developed over the course of writing the post but I liked this one best.


This post has been manually curated, resteemed
and gifted with some virtually delicious cake
from the @helpiecake curation team!

Much love to you from all of us at @helpie!
Keep up the great work!


Manually curated by @futuremind.


Hi @barge!

Your post was upvoted by @steem-ua, new Steem dApp, using UserAuthority for algorithmic post curation!
Your UA account score is currently 3.235 which ranks you at #8060 across all Steem accounts.
Your rank has improved 121 places in the last three days (old rank 8181).

In our last Algorithmic Curation Round, consisting of 208 contributions, your post is ranked at #155.

Evaluation of your UA score:
  • You're on the right track, try to gather more followers.
  • The readers appreciate your great work!
  • Try to work on user engagement: the more people that interact with you via the comments, the higher your UA score!

Feel free to join our @steem-ua Discord server

You got a 12.55% upvote from @ocdb courtesy of @barge! :)

@ocdb is a non-profit bidbot for whitelisted Steemians, current max bid is 20 SBD and the equivalent amount in STEEM.
Check our website for the whitelist, queue and delegation info. Join our Discord channel for more information.

If you like what @ocd does, consider voting for ocd-witness through SteemConnect or on the Steemit Witnesses page. :)