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understanding shame

SANCTUARY brené brown profile

Shame and vulnerability researcher Dr. Brené Brown describes shame as the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging. It’s the most primitive human emotion we all feel, and one that no one wants to talk about.

For many people struggling with addiction, shame is a powerful undercurrent that fuels use. Feelings of shame lead to self-loathing, which in turn, lead to numbing and more use.

As you interact with your Loved One, you too may experience serious bouts of shame. You may blame yourself for your Loved One’s behavior or feel defeated by your Loved One’s refusal to seek treatment. Without self-care, your Loved One’s addiction problems can leave you exhausted, or worse, set off a shame spiral.

If left to its own devices, Dr. Brown says, shame can destroy lives. In this video, Brown defines shame, reveals the three things shame requires to grow, and the one thing that stops shame in its tracks.

After watching the video, use your private journal to contemplate shame and the impact it may be having on your life and the life of your Loved One. What situations trigger shame for you personally? How do you feel when you find yourself in the midst of a shame spiral? How do you react in those difficult moments? Are there certain actions or thoughts that alleviate the shame?

In our next Sanctuary post, Dr. Brown will share three things you can do to stop a shame spiral when it strikes.




In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)