Positive Shame

Pema Chödrön, an American Tibetan Buddhist nun, is one of my favorite authors. In my tiny Pocket Pema book there is page devoted to Positive Shame. I love this concept. It reads…

“Shame is a loaded word for westerners. Like most things, it can be seen in a positive or negative light.  Negative shame is accompanied by guilt and self-denigration.  It is pointless and doesn’t help us even slightly. Positive shame, on the other hand, is recognizing when we’ve harmed ourselves or anyone else and feeling sorry for having done so.  It allows us to grow wiser from our mistakes. Eventually it dawns on us that we can regret causing harm without becoming weighed down by negative shame.  Just seeing the hurt and heartbreak clearly motivates us to move on. By acknowledging what we did, cleanly and compassionately, we go forward. “

I often tell my clients that leaning into this concept puts you back in your position of power. By saying that you hurt somebody and taking ownership, you may get through a fight with your partner quicker and with less pain. Wallowing in self-pity keeps you in a dark place that is tough to crawl out of. For all of you who have ever fell into the shame spiral, next time take this advice and you will feel better much faster. You can be the healer for the mistake you made. It feels fantastic to move into the power position and out of the spiral.  

If you still need help getting past an argument or a rift with your partner, we can help. Reach out today and start feeling better tomorrow.