Stand Your Sacred Ground: Owning my Shame

by Grace Cooley

Note from Paul Chubbuck: Last week a friend of mine, Grace Cooley, published a blog on her site which I felt so resonate with that I asked her permission to share it with you. If you’d like to explore her ideas further, you can find her at A Wilder Grace.

Photo by Paul Chubbuck

Shame is all the proverbial rage now, right? Brene Brown is a household name. Everyone is conversant on shame and vulnerability. It’s trendy. And I love that Dr. Brown’s goal of creating a world-wide discussion on shame has been a success.

I love her work, and I applaud just about everything I read or see that sports her name. I even went to see her last year in person. It was awe-inspiring and Real and something I can cross off my bucket list. I can die happy now. She is one of my (s)heros—and I don’t have very many.  [Note from the editor: for a short video on blaming by Brene Brown, click here.]

So I can honestly say I think it is so very wrong to try and shame someone else—or even ourselves—on purpose. I even have problems when I find I have shamed someone inadvertently, when I say or do something totally innocently that causes another person to go into a shame spiral.

It makes me have to do some personal soul-searching when I find out that has happened. Did I do that passive-aggressively?! Were my motives truly innocent?! WTF?!

And in all this soul-searching I have done–on both sides of shame, I have discovered one very important thing: I have to own my own shame. We, as humans, have to own our own shame. We have to own our triggers and our buttons. When someone pushes our buttons—purposefully or accidentally—it is not on them to heal that shit.

It’s on me.

When someone says something to me that pushes my buttons, that triggers a PTSD flashback, that drops shame in my lap so suddenly that I am disabled in that moment, it is not on them to apologize and make it better and heal it and fix it.

Again, it’s on me.

Sure, they are definitely fucked up if they have decided shaming and triggering someone on purpose is some type of sick fun—but it is still not their circus, not their monkeys. And don’t get me wrong in any sense of the interpretation of this rant. I am never okay with shaming—no matter how it happens.

What I am saying: It is time to own my shame. If someone says or does something from which I get triggered or feel shame, it is my responsibility to own that, to explore that button, that shame trigger, and heal it.

I don’t get to play the trendy shame victim card and blame my shit on someone else and never dive in to find out why that particular word, phrase, attitude, tone of voice, etc. pushes my buttons. They are my buttons, and I cannot expect anyone else to even know of their existence, much less try and avoid them.

My mission, if I choose to accept it, is to first, get myself out of shame safely. Brene Brown has an excellent shame resiliency method (free resource here). Second, after I can function again, my mission is to get real and honest with myself and do some exploring to find out why I felt shame.

Lastly, I need to heal that button. I need to do whatever is needed and possible to heal that in me. I need to know that that time my father, in my childhood, said, “You don’t know what you are doing! Let me do it!” in a shaming voice, does not mean that every time someone says, “Let me do it,” I have to feel that same shame it originally produced.

I can grow. I can heal the past to stop the shame in the present and future. I can own my shame. I can own my triggers. I can heal them. And if they are not heal-able right now, they might be in the future and with more work on my part. And if I can’t heal them, even with all the healing work I can put into the problem, I can at least be aware of their presence and navigate my life accordingly.

What do you do after the first, hot, immediate, horrible flush of shame has passed?

Do you “puff up” and want to get aggressive and shame them in return as your response? Do you “shrink” and want to people-please and start apologizing? Or do you “stand your sacred ground,” and get out of the situation as quickly as possible and have a look at it later to heal yourself?

“Don’t shrink. Don’t puff up. Just stand your sacred ground.” ~Brene Brown

Do you have private questions about the body-mind connection or about recovering from trauma, loss, or abuse? Click here to leave me a private message.




Paul Chubbuck is a practicing psychotherapist in Fort Collins, CO, using Somatic Experiencing® to help people release trauma, abuse, and loss. He may be reached at 970-493-2958 or through his website at www.releasingthepast.com.

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