I made the video: What can we say about shame? to explore this somewhat less straightforward but powerful emotion. Here are a few notes to support the watching of the video.
Further notes, activities and discussion points.
Shame is an unenjoyable emotion that is triggered when we do something, or something happens that others are involved with or witness, makes us feel and believe we must be rubbish/a bad person/useless etc
| It is not a really straightforward emotion to understand. It involves different components:|
Describe a time when you felt shame. Then ask your child if they can remember a time when they felt shame and describe what it felt like, what thoughts they had.
What does shame feel like?
| Shame can make us suddenly feel a mixture of:|
Triggers for shame
| Different people can have quite different triggers for shame as shame is triggered around sensitivities we have; and we are all sensitive about different things or have different ‘buttons’. What might shame one person can have no effect on another person.|
Common triggers can include:
Can your child think of things that they don’t cope well with being teased about? How do they react when/if someone teases them about that thing? Is it hard to admit to feeling sensitive about some things?
When we have high self-esteem, we are likely to experience shame less often and less intensely than someone with low self-esteem.
| This is because shame is triggered when someone ‘touches on a nerve’ or ‘presses one of our buttons’. Shame is strong when the trigger (e.g. insult, failure, mistake) reinforces a negative belief we already hold about ourselves – either:|
For example, if we think we are unlikeable and someone insults us by saying ‘nobody likes you,’ shame will probably be triggered strongly. This can in turn knock our self-esteem further and make us hold onto the negative belief about ourselves more strongly.
Coping with shame