Why Shame is Not Your Friend

shame addiction recovery family intervention Allies in Recovery

shame addiction recovery intervention Allies in Recovery

Dr. Brené Brown’s Groundbreaking Discoveries

Renowned 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. These feelings lead to self-loathing, which in turn, lead to numbing and more use.

Shame Feeds on Addiction

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.

Addiction in the family brings up many difficult emotions for everyone involved. You may be more familiar with anger, hopelessness, and fear. But shame is also there for all of us, in varying amounts.

After having studied this emotion for years, Dr. Brown describes it as “lethal.” If left to its own devices, she says, shame can destroy lives. In this short video, Brown talks with Oprah Winfrey about her discoveries. She defines shame, reveals the three things it requires to grow, and the one thing that stops it in its tracks.

Thinking About Shame in Your Own Life

After watching the video, get a pen and some paper, or your private journal, and 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 post, we’ll share three things that Dr. Brown recommends for stopping a shame spiral when it strikes.

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