Shame Resilience: Speaking Shame Aloud
The last component of the Shame Resilience Theory is actually something I discovered on my own, before I ever knew it was an established theory backed by research.
On January 1st, 2019, after over two years of quietly living alcohol-free, I shared on social media that I had woken up hangover-free for my third New Year's Day in a row. My family knew I wasn’t drinking anymore, and so did my close friends, but I kept the choice close to the chest. I didn’t talk about why very much, even to my husband—it felt too painful to say out loud. But something shifted after I shared about my sober New Year’s. I slowly began sharing more of my story, including the hard parts, and couldn’t believe the kindness and empathy (and similar stories) I was met with. Eventually this storytelling healed me and led me to where I am today—working in the recovery industry, speaking publicly about my choice to live alcohol-free, living the aligned life I had always dreamed of.
The fourth step of the Shame Resilience Theory isn’t necessarily spilling your guts on the internet like I did, but it is speaking your shame aloud to someone. Allowing yourself to be seen, leaving space for the “oh my gosh, me too,” or the “I thought I was the only one” or the “I hear you and I still love you.” When I shared my story of escalating alcohol use in early motherhood, and then experienced women reaching out to me with their own stories or with a kind word, it moved something inside of me that nothing else had been able to fix.
And the cool thing about what I experienced in real time (and truthfully the reason that shame resilience has become a personal specialty) is that this experience is replicable and backed by the data. We know that sharing stories and disrupting the internal shame experience is something that works for all sorts of people, as researched by Dr. Brene Brown.