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Join us this week with psychologist Ken Benau to learn more about shame and pride, and how they affect our relationships and our mental health. Get ready to explore the origin of shame, how it influences our relationships and how we can move from feeling ashamed towards feeling proud. Ken helps us understand how to differentiate between shame as a traumatic state and shame as an emotion and how to use body-based approaches to help us process trauma and shame. He provides insight on the transformational process from shame to pride, and share tips on how to work with clients to move from maladaptive to adaptive pride.
Tune in to gain invaluable insight on an important, yet often misunderstood, topic.
Dr. Ken Benau is a California licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in working with children and adults with learning and developmental differences and a special interest in shame and pride-informed psychotherapy with survivors of relational trauma.
Find Out More About Ken:
Shame, Pride, and Relational Trauma (the book)
Learn More About Switch Research:
Disclaimer: Therapy Talks does NOT provide medical services or professional counseling, and it is NOT a substitute for professional medical care.
Hello everyone. Welcome back for another episode of Therapy Talks. It's Hailey here Today we have Dr. Ken Bono joining us to talk about his book, his concept of probing pride and his decades of information and experience on working with those who have suffered from shame.
I always like to ask clinicians that join us in terms of their own past history in terms, so what really drew you to studying shame and pride, both personally and professionally? Sometimes you understand why you do something only in retrospect. In retrospect, I experienced my own.
Shame when I was younger though, probably wouldn't have known it. And as an adult, I discovered in therapy that what I was experiencing was shamed. I didn't know that either. That was after many years of psychotherapy. I was, I would find myself feeling sometimes sad or teary and I didn't, I thought I was sad about something, but I later realized it was more related to shame and feeling like I somehow hadn't lived up to my own values or my truer self.
I'd been doing psychotherapy for many years. I graduated graduate school in 1988, so I had been doing psychotherapy for many years and it was, Maybe around the early two thousands that I realized I did not know how to work with trauma and didn't really fully understand it. I hadn't known the words trauma.
Like I could sometimes say, oh yeah, that's a traumatic reaction, but I didn't really know how to work with it. And I had a client who was experiencing trauma related to some sexual trauma, but a lot of what I would call male relational. And we worked really well together, but I didn't know how to help him around the trauma.
Eventually I went back and got more training in that from a variety of broaches, some more attachment focused or motion focused, some more semantic focused and others varieties of that. Since then and in working with people who've experienced complex or relational trauma, Anyone who does this work will discover that there's a certain kind of experience of shame that doesn't seem to budge.
This is not what I would call the emotion of shame. This is what I would call, and some others have called a traumatic shame state. So these are the experiences where a person feels inadequate, feels unlovable, feels there's something fundamentally wrong with them. Even worse. Hated disgust. Disgusting.
And it has often little to do with how they actually are in the world or how other people actually experience them. And there's no kind of convincing them out of it. And, Many people get stuck here. They don't says they, they know there's something that keeps showing up in the therapy. They know it's very painful.
They know it affects their lives in very, the patient's lives in very significant ways, and they don't know what to do about it. So these what are a, what are called traumatic shame states, as opposed to shame as an emotion are more chronic and more intransient. And these are the experiences. Patients get stuck with a so do therapist.
And so some of what drew me professionally to write about it and present about it is, what do we do with these states? And it's usually these chronic states that people come to therapy workshops with regard to shame to get help with. It's not shame as a feeling that tends to come.
And. And I think it'd also just be helpful if you could also maybe explain what is really shame as an emotion and maybe a little bit more on that difference of that versus the state of shame. Because like even in my own clinical practice, I feel as though individuals will describe shame is bad, or sometimes they're saying guilt, but they don't really understand like what shame really means or what that looks.
Most people don't come into therapy even saying they're feeling shame or wanting. Help shame. So you have to, shame tends to hide itself or show up in covert ways. So you have to Tease it out. First of all, shame and pride are basic to being human. These are not unique to people who are suffering psychologically.
So shame is about, and pride are about valuation and devaluation, and always in relation to another person. Whether or not there's actually another person present at that time. So shame is feelings at an emotional level. Is feelings of less than inadequacy, not good enough sometimes bad wrong. Those are the kinds of things that most people associate with shame.
Pride is valuation. So healthy pride is, I achieve something or accomplish something, and I feel really good about having done that. Not necessarily better than anyone else, just feel good about themselves. So shame if we just focus on shame. Shame as an emotion. Like all emotions they rise and they fall.
If you watch very little kids have feelings, you can just see it's like the weather changing on a very quickly. So they feel something, they don't feel, they feel angry, and then they're over it and they feel something else. And there's an equivalent of that with adults, although those tend to get stuck more in certain kinds of feelings.
But in shame, something happens. And the person feels inadequate and less than, or something's wrong with them, and in as an emotion it's what's called acute meaning. It comes and it goes so they don't get stuck in it. In a traumatic shame state, they get stuck in it, and when it shows up, it shows.
Similar to like a flashback, but rather than something perceptual, it's more an experience of cell. And when it shows up in the same way, just like flashbacks tend to show up the exact same way, so the person feels the same thing, thinks the same things about themselves. Their body posture also drops in a certain way.
And when they're in the state, they have no sense that it's a. To them, it's who they really are. If you only knew me, this is who I really am. And it doesn't change. So the experience in a shame state when you're in it is, I was, I am and I always will be. Fill in the blank. Some, something fundamentally defective or wrong or damaged about me.
I think that's really great to clarify. So for those that are listening, can understand like that difference between shame and the rise and fall of emotions. And so like you were saying, your own personal past and with that hindsight noticing that shame was coming up, it drew you to more studying it from a professional standpoint.
Yeah I'm recently, I thought I was always drawn when I was little to helping others even as a little. Like in grade school, and I would be drawn to kids who were vulnerable. Now, they didn't necessarily become my best friends, but I, they, I befriended them. These were the kids who tended to be not necessarily overtly shamed or bullied, more ignored.
But as I reflect back on it, I am certain that they all experienced a shame quietly. They wouldn't have shared it with anyone. They mostly. Were on the periphery of the social, activities. So very early on, obviously I was drawn to something that then later I became, aware, oh, that's other people's experience, a shame.
And then discovering it in myself and then in patients who have experienced significant trauma, whether it's abuse or neglect, A failure to be seen and valued. And could you give some examples as well of what is relational trauma? Yeah, so relational trauma is a term and a concept developed by Alan Shore.
Who studies what's called interpersonal neurobiology, which is brain mind, brain body connections, interpersonally, and as it shows up also in therapy. So it's similar to what's known as complex trauma and or developmental trauma. And it always occurs in relationship. So there's trauma where you have a car accident and you're traumatized by it.
But that's not relational trauma relation. Trauma is always between at least two people. Usually it's a person who's like a parent who's is supposed to be taking care of someone, child who's more dependent. And the, from a relational trauma perspective, this is about what's called a failure to regulate.
So the person is either overwhelmed, like in abuse whether it's physical or sexual, or emotional, or underwhelmed as in neglect and meaning they didn't get their basic needs met. Now people when they tend to think of, they think. He wasn't fed at all or he had no clothing or he was left at home days and days and he was only five years old.
Those obviously are severe cases of neglect, but the kind of neglect that I'm referring to at least it now tended I tend to work with are more kind of absence of basic tuning in. So I've worked with people. If you just entered their homes when they were kids and you just spent the little time, it would look like everything's fine, right?
They were maybe middle class or not middle class. All material needs were met. Food on the table. It looked on the surface, like everything were fine. In fact was fine. In fact, when you. Meet these patients for the first time and they ask 'em. You ask 'em about their child and they say it was fine. Normal.
What do you mean? Nothing happened. And that's the problem. So these are situations where a child might enter a room and no one says hello, or How is your day where you told me you were worried about the test? How'd that go? Or. No one kind of tuned into their feelings, or no one just enjoyed them.
So their basic human needs that we need, and one basic need is to be valued. And even delighted in. And when you don't get those needs met, the minded body remembers it. Just like the minded bodies remembers if it had a period of starvation. And these are these over experiences of overwhelm or underwhelmed, even these quote milder forms of neglect or what are called sometimes attachment wounds when chronic and unattended to that results in this experience that sure called relational.
For sure. And then that leads into also the experience of shame that you're speaking of too, because there is that either that neglect or the overwhelm or the danger. Yeah. It's, it wasn't always the case that people recognize shame and tr and relational trauma accomplish trauma when together, but it always goes together.
And in fact, it had been that when people thought about trauma, they thought about fear, intense fear. I'm terrified that you will hurt me. And of course that exists. But actually shame is more strongly correlated with aspects of trauma than is fear that most people don't even know that and they often don't know it because it doesn't show up and announce itself.
I. I've only recently had people say, I'd like to work with you, or my ashamed, but that's only because I've written a book. Prior to that, people would just come in and say, I'm depressed, or I'm anxious, or I feel like I'm just somehow not measuring up or I don't know why, but everyone tells me this about me, but I don't feel that's true about me.
And those things are actually not all depressions or all anxieties, but many of those are underlying it as shame, but they don't know that shame What they're experiencing is the unconscious attempt to avoid shame. I don't wanna get out there and do public speaking. Why? Why not made me nervous if you dig deeper.
I was afraid of being exposed. What would happen if you're being exposed? Then they would see I'm a fraud. So there's an example of shame that doesn't show up in the form of what you might think of as, oh my God, I feel so bad about myself. And I understand what you're saying too because one of the main therapies that I provide is mdr.
And so in the assessment phase of AM mdr, we find that negative belief that is associated with a memory. And so for example, there's been clients who have had memories where they did not get to engage with, play with other children, or they didn't have certain opportunities. It wasn't blatantly obvious, like you're saying that fear experience, but it was that missing out experience and their core belief around that is one of shame.
I'm not good enough or I'm not worth playing with, et cetera. And those are subtle things and those are things. That people even thinking about themselves would think not every kid gets to play all the time. Not every kid has, best friends. So what's the big deal? But these are experienced with the problem, with those experiences, not that they happen.
These things happen to children all the time. Being left out, for example. The problem is these happen repeatedly and no one helps to comfort the child around the pain of that. Let's us explain it like it looked like, for example I've worked with kids and they feel excluded. But no one is helping them with that because maybe no one knows their feeling suit.
Or maybe they all, they the teacher sees is the kids withdrawn. He's very shy. Maybe he's not just shy. Maybe he's feeling bad about himself. So the problem with this is that there's no repair. There's no way for the child to make sense of this, so maybe they're not hanging out with the kinds of kids that would be good friends for them.
Maybe that other introvert in the corner of the room that is also not reaching out is gonna be a good fit for you, but you wouldn't know that. And so you're left to conclude it has to be me. And there's nothing I can do about it because it's me. And as you speak, that rings so clearly for so many client examples, and I'm sure people listening can also agree with that idea of we usually d do something about ourselves when something uncomfortable happens, even though there is logically other explanations for it, but.
It just becomes that only option because of the way that situation or experience happened. Yeah, and it happens, one, because of what you just said, two, because we're often talking about a child. So children are normally developmentally egocentric, not in a selfish way, just they make sense of the world according to themselves.
So why am I mistreat? Because I'm deserving it. And these are not given words. Sometimes later they'll give words, but it's just it's like a, an emotional and physical reality. The other reason is shame offers an explanation and it offers paradoxically the hope for change. Meaning if only I wasn't.
Fill in the blank, then I would be accepted, then I would be loved, then I would be concluded. So it's paradoxically in a tent for the lying body to feel empowered. But of course, the actual effects of these traumatic shame states is profoundly disempowering and alienating and ice, socially isolating.
For sure. And I'd love to chat about like your book that you wrote and some of the themes. Maybe you could just do a bit of an introduction on these concepts and what you've focused on within your book. The book starts with a little bit of what we're talking about here, which is a little bit of what is shame and pride, what are they and why do they manner in psychotherapy?
Some of what I've already said, which is they show up in therapy. They're basic to being human, but they're often not understood. Pride tends to not be talked about at all, and certainly not in a positive sense. And not in terms of trauma either. Sometimes people talk about narcissism, which is a kind of maladaptive pride, but they often don't call, talk about the healthy pride.
So in the beginning of the book, I talk about what it is and why it matters. Then I, and then I then go on to talking about what I call shame and pride subtypes. So we've been talking a little bit about that. So they're adaptive or. Subtypes of both shame and pride, right? So pride of accomplishment is an adaptive pride.
Pride of arrogance and hubris is maladaptive. And then I look at shame and pride as emotions, but also as trauma states. And when we look at trauma states, we're now talking about dissociation, which means aspects of self that are unconsciously disconnected from or dissociated. And within those states, you can have certain aspects of self that hold the shame.
You get a powerful jolt of shame every time you feel angry. Why? You didn't know, but unconsciously you've associated anger with violence and humiliation, which is maybe what you experienced as a child. So now anytime you feel even healthy anger like, Hey, don't treat me that way, the shame attack would've.
And there's also more profound forms of shame, which are the shame of just being right. Just really basic, fundamental experience where the person, if they had words, would say, I'm either not here, or if I'm here, there's nothing I'm nothing. There's nothing that I offer to the world, and there's nothing you can say or do to convince me of it.
So I talk about that and how the nature of dissociation and. Interate because they're very closely related to each other. They both serve to, to distance people from their own aliveness. So they like work in tandem. So usually when a person has some experience of dissociation, there's shame underneath and vice versa.
At least the trauma shame that we're talking about. I go on to talk about my approach to psychotherapy is working Integr. I don't use one approach. So in the next chapter, I'd look at certain principles or attitudes or concepts that guide the work that can be applied to more than one approach to therapy.
Because this work is so hard to do and because. Not only do therapists get stuck, therapists feel their own shame. Sometimes when a patient is in a shame state, they don't sit with it on their own. It's like what I call the shame hot potato. It's not me, it's you. So now the therapist is feeling like a failure and the patient may not say those words or they might, therapist who struggles with working the shame might have their own shame or might have their own reactions like dissociation.
So the next chapter is what I call P. Patient therapists, shame state dynamics, what goes on between them and what goes on within them. Because in other terms, or transfer transference. Countertransference, I just prefer the language that I use, so talks about that. Then I have a chapter where I have a, a session with a person who's a survivor of relational.
And it's a successful session. It goes well in the meaning he was in a shame state and he ends up Leaving feeling some what's called adaptive pride in this, what I'll call probing pride, I can tell you a little bit more about. But that session is a conversation with the neuro person who understands brain science.
So it talks about what's going on in the session from a brain science perspective. So it's interrupted with. Now this is what's probably going in the brain, or this might inform how we might work with it. The last chapter, and these are transcribed sessions, so they're verbatim. The last chapter has several, either full sessions or parts of sessions where documents actually the same person in the previous chapter, and it shows how he moves from shame to adaptive pride to what I call pro being.
And pro being pride is really the what is most central in some ways to the book and in some ways different than maybe what other people. Or many other people think about when they think about pride. So I'm someone who is a literature student. I did not study psychology. I didn't grad, I didn't have a degree in psychology as an undergrad I did at graduate school.
And if you look, so I like words and I like word origin. So if you look up. The word origin of proud, you get a Latin, Latin term and the, it's spelled P R O D E S E. So P R O D means four like f O and e s E means two B or B. So I thought this is a different kind of pride. This is not, I feel good about something I've accomplished.
This says, taking genuine delight in who I. So I'm for being, but if I'm for my being, I have to be for your being. Doesn't make any sense to be I'm for myself, but I'm not for you. So then there's pro being that has in relation to oneself taking delight in oneself. And what I mean by oneself, I mean who you are uniquely as we all are.
And then, Inter relational pro being, which is taking delight in you delighting and being yourself as I'm delighting and being myself. And there's also one that has to do with relationship to the world. And these things are not like always happy. So you can feel that unique connection with your liveness when you're grieving the loss of a loved one with other.
So it's not always like ecstatic or joyful. But the last part of the book, last chapter is devoted to this transformational process from shame to right and then pro being, and then even beyond. This particular person had experiences of what's called unity consciousness, like sense of oneness of the world.
So while that's not happening in all sessions with all people, if you can work with pro being, that is sometimes a consequence of. Bringing attention to those experiences. So your book overall sounds very thorough. You, it sounds like you really be, bring individuals on this journey of understanding pride, understanding maladaptive and adaptive pride, and then different types of modalities and therapies.
That's quite eclectic in terms of supporting each individual client. And then you give some very tangible client examples of how that looks like in. So I would be really curious if you could speak to how you are supporting clients from the maladaptive to the adaptive pride. First of all, if you, if your premise says that people are unique, which is the essential.
Premise of of my work, but also of this concept I shared with you about pro being, then there's no one size fits all. So sometimes people say their therapy is shame informed. In my view. If it's shame informed you, you are going with the assumption that there's no one. To communicate to someone that I see you, I feel you.
I know you, I'm here for you. You have value. There's no one way to do that. So the particular approach is that, we all learn different things along the way. I've, my graduate school training dates back to the eighties, so you can imagine the different kinds of things along the way. I've learned, I was trained initial.
AL therapy, what's called experiential therapy. I was trained in e emdr, though they'll use it a lot. I've been trained in attachment oriented approaches or motion focused therapies. I've been trained somatically, so I call upon different things based on my sense of the person. One of the sort of basic things that I think not, I think I feel strongly is essential in working with shame.
We just spoke about shame right now, is there has to be some way to name it. Now, sometimes people say you don't wanna name someone's shame too soon because you're going to shame them. I think that's the opposite is. To me, it's if someone's suicidal, you don't wanna avoid saying, it sounds like you're thinking of killing yourself.
Am I getting it? That's actually of relief to people. Paradoxically, when you say I'm seeing, you're going through so much pain, you're thinking about killing yourself. And by naming it, you're communicating implicitly and explicitly, we can pay attention to this together. You don't have to be alone with this.
So what I do sometimes, This is partly informed by the fact that I like words, is I listen for the verbal and non-verbal cues, if you will, that suggest the person's experiencing shame, like not good enough. I feel so bad about myself sometimes what people say I failed, but what they really mean is I'm a failure and nothing will ever change.
I can't dare do that. If I do that, people will find out, so I listen to what might be, or sometimes it's nonverbal, right? They don't look at. I'm not talking about someone who, for neurodevelopmental reasons, doesn't look, like someone on the autism system. Someone who I might have known them for years and they don't look at me or they tend to turn away or they've stopped and you don't know why they just stopped.
So there's these, the non-verbal signs. When I have a sense of that, I try to basically, That sounds like shame when you said A, B, and C. That sounds like shame. And this then over time gives them a word for it. And a word that, on one hand it actually is less, in some ways less shaming than a worthless piece of da.
Now, they may still be saying they're worthless piece of da, but they're also, we're also able to now talk about the shame or the effects of shame. So when you begin to name. We begin to create a little what's called psychological distance or psychological space between you and quote it. And that's a huge step because if you can do that, even if you only do it intermittently, doesn't always take forever in terms of holding, you do it a little bit, then the person begins to be able to look at the experience while being in the experience.
And as someone who works with trauma that. The essential feature working with trauma, the person has to re-experience it some without being completely overwhelmed, and they have to be able to observe. They're experiencing it. Some EMDR is really good at that. The person's in it and they're not in it, and what helps 'em not be in it?
The eye movements and my views, what helps them not be in it. But also help them be in it without being overwhelmed. So part of it is naming it, part of it is, so that's about language and part of it is working directly with the body. So this will show up in the body. And if you really work with the kind of traumatic shame states I'm talking about, you have to find some way to work with the body.
You, it could be emdr, it could be sensory motor psychotherapy, which is untrained in or other approach. As well, but you have to have some way of helping the person recognize the non way it shows up physically. Because otherwise what happens is the person, if you say something to him, they'll say it sounds right.
Yeah, that, that makes sense and doesn't change it. So you need to, you need what's called bottom up approaches, which is working with the body and emotions in a nonverbal sense to where the, you sh you help them shift their experience somatically in the body, and through that shifting of their actual lived experience in their body and emotionally.
The bottom up is it goes to the mind, and the mind says, I don't feel the same way, or Oh, that's not true about me. It's not like you've convinced them of it. Their actual lived experience has transformed them. So that's the bottom up approach. And that would be something else that I would strongly recommend people get some training in if they're gonna work with the trauma kind of shape.
And angry with you. And I have to joke, you have to name it to tame it. So we need to have that awareness of it right. And that awareness is really helpful. A lot of that top-down cognitive piece, but I agree with you. There has to be that bottom up somatic body-based sort of processing, so it sits in the body and it feels different in the body.
And when you have that lived experience, you come in and you're feeling in your body utterly deformed or damaged. And through the work, whether it's that session over many sessions, you have an experience in your body where you're literally lifting up and your chest is expanding comfortably from a place of feeling bad of oneself.
That's. That convinces the person because it's not, I'm telling you, it's, oh, wow. I don't think that about myself right now. Or that just doesn't feel true anymore. Yeah, I I remember feeling that just doesn't feel true. So it's very powerful. And when it's more integrated body and mind Then it's something that, that lasts.
It's something that they carry forward in their lives. It's not just we had a really good session, but back to square one when I'm out in the world. And I would love for you to actually describe a little bit of sensory motor psychotherapy as we haven't actually had any clinicians trained in that discipline.
So it'd be great if you could describe that. Yeah. Censoring motor psychotherapy assumes, and this is their scheme. It's not like they think it's this simple that, that we organize the world according to thoughts or beliefs. So a thought or belief regarding shame is I'm worthless.
That's a belief. Now when you're in that place, they don't think it's a belief. They think it's a fact, but they. From the sensory motor perspective of belief, and then there's emotions I feel so terrible about myself. So that's an emotion. And then there's the body. So the sensory mo psychotherapy approach is a body-based approach.
It doesn't ignore the thoughts or beliefs or feelings, but it starts with the body. So for example this is pretty common that I might do in a session. Hurston says, I can't believe I did that. What an idiot I am. Okay. So they're clearly an shame, at least an emotion, if not ashamed stay. If they keep going back to that same, I'm such an idiot, that's likely a shame stay, especially related to trauma.
So then I might say, okay let's pause for a moment and notice where in your body and what in your body tells you, I'm such an idiot. Now people sometimes know how to do this even without being taught. A lot of people don't. So the in, they may need some guidance, right? Is it in your chest? Is it in your gut?
And they also may need guidance to give it words because. People don't know. They say, I don't know what I'm feeling. And it's it's that feeling. So you have to give them words. Are you tense? Is it tense? Is it relaxed? Is it hot? Is it cold? Is it tingly? Is it numb? Does it feel like there's energy?
Is it energy moving? Which parts of the body are moving it? Those kinds of things. Let's say they're in a shame state and they say, I feel like I'm a worthless piece of da. And they, and I say where do you feel on your body? And they say I feel this tension in my chest. Okay does it feel like it's going in or going out?
So they say it's going in. So one approach. There's obviously many, but one approach from sensory mo psychotherapy is to focus on the bodily experience and follow where it wants to take the person. By that if you feel tension in your body, muscles are doing what they're designed to do.
The only thing muscles do is contract. And they contract because the body wants to move or a movement wants to happen Now in trauma, and that includes traumatic shame, there's an interruption of what's called an adaptive action, right? So an adaptive action. If someone's humiliating, you might. Might be to get away so the tension in the chest might concave.
And this, if you look really closely when you a lot of times people say, I just feel like crawling up into a ball and crawling into a hole. If you just bring their attention to it, they'll notice, like I said in this case, the tension in their chest. If you look at what they're actually doing, they're protecting their heart.
Okay, so that's that. That becomes an awareness where, because at first they think look at me. I'm so weak I couldn't even deal with it. But when they come to recognize wait a minute, my body was dealing with it. This person was, an adult and I was five years old and I had no way to get away.
That was my parent. So what did you have to do to. You protected your heart. Isn't that amazing? You protected your heart. Or they'll notice other tensions that show they wanted to run away, but they couldn't. But they feel the tension in their feet and legs. So in the work you help them what's called complete the adaptive motoric action, the action that wants to happen.
And that would be an example of how sensory motor psychotherapy helps a person process from this kind of stuckness. A more adaptive action, and again, not just in the session, but it frees things up to be more take action in the world in a more effective way. Yeah. I really appreciate you describing it such, and giving such a tangible example because I think many times clients who have maybe experienced relational or complex trauma, Just looking for some support.
They see a lot of these different types of therapies and they don't really understand like what that looks like in session. And so I think you did a really great job of explaining how our body is such an important part of our healing process and how to complete those behaviors and actions to heal metaphorically and truly our experiences from the pain and the hurt from the.
Yeah, and many people me included, if I tend to be, intellectual and like ideas. When I first got training in these semantic approaches, it was pretty intimidating at first, but I also wasn't sure. You say what do you feel in your body? I'm like, I don't know.
The usual, but they, we don't, I didn't have words for it, but once you get just a little bit of orientation, like I said, where in your body you're feeling a. Is it tense or relaxed? The person's people are actually often, not always, but often quite good at doing it. They just didn't know they were, it was like a language they hadn't learned, but once taught the basic rules, quote unquote, of language, they can do it and they can make, not just notice these things.
They can then learn to work with them in session and outside. So you'd be surprised sometimes people you would've predicted would not have, like I've had people come in and they. I don't really know what I'm feeling and I definitely don't know what's going on in my body. And as you work with them a little bit, you say, no, you're actually really good at this.
They're like, no, I'm nice. Says yes. Did you notice this and this? So sometimes people are doing it, they just don't know they are. And sometimes people need help to be taught how to do this, but once they know it, they see the value of it, so they wanna do it more. Like first creating that awareness and then being able to experience it and then translate into.
And in into doing the, into actual experience and actions. Yeah. For sure. So I'd love to ask some more questions around individuals that if they don't know that they're living with the effects of Shane, so even when they do not want to expose themselves to others, what are some ways as a therapist or maybe a person in general can know shame is at play and what are the words or possibly other feelings that or behavior that might alert a person to these shame experiences?
Some of the big ones are less than inadequate, not measuring up failure, worthless, unlovable. No one wants to be with me. I felt so exposed. Who would wanna be with me? I know people think this about me, but it's not really true. Those are some words I call these words, portals, like they're doorways into the deeper experience.
Usually the people don't say, I feel ashamed, though they might, but usually have to be taught to notice that they might say, I feel depressed. But if you dig deeper, you discover that for them depression is powerless, worthless, helpless, inadequate. So that would be shame, at the heart of it.
Sometimes people say, I'm really nervous or anxious. They say nervous about what was the worst thing that could happen? Then I'm gonna be found out to be. And it's usually something shameful. Sometimes people just feel frozen. Kinda I can't think, dunno what to do. Kind of deer in the headlights.
You dig deeper, you find out the reason they're frozen is they can't. They don't have any sense that they can escape being humiliated. So they like, it's not like they choose to be frozen. That's a reaction. And then there's this subtle and not so subtle nonverbal things like we talked about before.
You don't, there's Rodan did these sculptures of people in a state of shame, right? It's so those are obvious, right? The person like, oh, I can't believe it. What is wrong with me? You hide your head and. Those are pretty dramatic examples, but it could be subtler like they're, if they close their eyes for a moment or they turn their head or they.
They don't talk about certain things. Like you never hear them talk about fill in the blank. Anger or sex or positive things like accomplishments or something they feel good about themselves. So they're, sometimes you discover it through omissions, right? There's a kind of dissociation, a disconnection from something that would give them experience of a pride, for example.
Feel positive about the. So it, it shows up in all sorts of sneaky ways. The word origin, again, word origin that I love of shame is a proto Indo-European word, which goes way, way back, thousands of years I think. And the word is k e m Kim, and it means to cover. So shame is fundamentally about hiding, covering.
And it doesn't just cover from other people. Like sometimes people say I feel so shame, but I didn't want to find out, da. No. It covers from yourself. So I told you earlier that I'd been in therapy for many years and I didn't. I was aware of feeling stuff and I was aware of wanting to get help with feelings that I was, that were painful to me, but I didn't necessarily know they were shame or shame related.
And I don't know if that's a response to your question. It's those things that come to mind. Yeah. And so if someone's hearing some of these examples that you're listing, what would you suggest that would be? Maybe what they could do independently to work on some of these emotions and experiences?
There, there are books out there. Mine is not written primarily for people who are lay people, for example. It's more written for therapists. Lay people's, I've had some people who are. Therapist read some of the things I've written, whether it's my book or elsewhere, and parts of it they resonate with cuz parts of it I'm describing like this and people, so not all of what I'm saying now, just therapists are interested in There, there are some books that talk about a popularized view of working with Shane as Perna Brown, and that's helpful for the emotional kind of shame.
It tends not to be helpful with the trauma kind of shame. And so I would, if persons are drawn to that. Sometimes there are certain books around self-compassion or self-acceptance. Sometimes from a Buddhist perspective, or a meditative perspective. So there's a lot of books out there.
Toxic shame. It's there. Shame comes and goes in terms of a topic of interest. So it's relatively big in. Five, 10 years. So there are a lot of popular books about it. What I would say is that if you do something like Renee Brown or other approaches that are, they give you some ideas of what you can do and how you could work on being more compassionate toward yourself or accepting or normalizing in the experience of shame rather than it being proof there's something, being ashamed of feeling shame, if those approaches are helpful, go for it. If they're helpful but not quite enough, meaning there's these experiences that are more chronic shame states, then I think it's really important, frankly, to get help from a therapist, because otherwise what'll happen is you think, look at all these other people who benefit from listening to this person who knows about shame and doing their workshops or reading their books, and why?
Why am I not. And if they're already vulnerable to feeling shame, the conclusion will be not just, there's something wrong with me, there's nothing that can make it better. So it, that's why this differentiation be shame is a traumatic state and shame is an emotion is also important for people who are not therapists.
It's really important for us therapists, cuz we need to know, okay, that we work with that differently. But just people need to know that if they're stuck in a state of shame, one, there's nothing wrong with them, that it will make. From some perspective and there will be things that you can do to get help with it.
And some of them maybe eventually you'll work on your own. But you first need someone who understands trauma and understands this kind of shame and can help you with it. The reason partly you can't do it all on your own is that it doesn't start all on your own. It starts always in relationship.
Me think it's all about you. Cuz now it's just the, that inner voice that tells me I'm a terrible. It always starts in a relationship and then it becomes an internal relationship. On the most fundamental level, the healing of shame must be relational. It must be, if you will, patient with therapists, but then over time, patient with other people in their lives, but also with themselves or aspect of themselves.
You can't do that by yourself and not because there's something wrong with you just because. It's not where the transformation or healing can take place. So if you're trying these self-help books and they help, for me, my view is if it works, do it. Let's do it. As long as you're not hurting another human being, if it helps you and doesn't hurt another human being, go for it.
But if what you're doing is not quite sufficient, if you find yourself still dropping in to thinking, feeling, and embodying the same thing over and over again, that to you when you're there, is utterly convincing. There's something fundamentally just wrong with you and they'll never change. That's a signal that you need someone who has specialty in this area to work with and to treat it as I can get help.
I don't have to live this way. No. Even if I've lived this way for 30 years, it doesn't have to be, my fate. For sure. And so in your experience, are those clients that sometimes come to you that say, therapy really hasn't worked for me in the past. I'm still really optimistic that I can.
Do you find that those clients that come with some of those blocks or. Feeling like resistant or feel like things haven't really sunk in or taken place. There is that aspect of shame. Yeah. And they often don't come in feeling optimistic. They feel desperate. They feel desperate, or they feel like this is my last chance.
Or they feel like I've tried therapy, maybe I'm not a good patient, but here I am anyway, but you probably won't be able to help me anyway, doc. Those kinds of things. The other thing I wanna say is that there's a experience of. People have no reference point to make sense of, so I'm talking about someone.
Through no fault of their own and maybe even no fault of the parents, let's say the parent was depressed, or let's say the parent was mentally ill in some ways. Or let's say they weren't always depressed, but then they lost their child, not the child who's now still alive, and they then they just emotionally were gone.
Or let's say they're going through a divorce or an illness, or fill in the blank, or let's say they had postpartum depression, right? These are now. Parents who abuse. These are not parents who on the surface are neglecting, but they are unavailable and no one's kind of filling, the place, right? So if a parent is depressed, That's terrible and it's gonna be a painful loss or absence at least for a time.
But if there's another parent or an aunt or an uncle or a neighbor that can help them understand that this parent is going through something and that yes, you're feeling their, the loss of that, and I'm here from you, for you, and I'll try to help you understand that this is not about you then you can get help.
But a lot of times people don't get that. These are the people that often come to therapy and they just know things are not working for them in their lives, but they don't have any idea that it's the shame of absence rather than the presence. It's a shame of what they didn't get. And so that, that's just something for people to think about because.
Mostly when people think about a shame, they think someone overtly shamed or humiliated them. They just, it's no question about you. They bullied them or they told them, that you're just worthless. So a lot of times people who come into therapy and not having been.
Helped in therapy in the past. It's sometimes it's these subtler forms where sometimes the therapist just didn't identify shame because they weren't trained in it, that I wasn't trained in it. I lived it personally and then I lived it as a therapist and then I had to, if you will, to the largest thing I had to train myself.
I had to learn through observing and through my own personal therapy kind. What's going on and what to do with it. So their therapist, took through no fault of their own. They're not trained in it and they don't know, they're not trained in it, and they don't know that's what's going on with the patient.
Sometimes those people will come in and they did get some things from therapy and they'll say I'm grateful for this, but this has never got away. So then they need this extra piece that we're talking. And very much again, those bottom up approaches. Yeah. What a lot of people, more people are trained in that these days.
It's been more there, there were semantic approaches back in, rife is talking about this in the 1930s, so it's not like semantic approaches haven't existed. But it's more, I would say in the two thousands and sinces, that there's been these approaches that are more available for therapists who initially start out as boat talk therapists.
Oh, there are those that are available. I live in the Bay Area and it's a very common that you'll find therapists who are trained in somatic approaches. There are some areas of the country less. And again, I'm not in any way denigrating let's say, approaches that are less body oriented, at least traditionally, say a psycholytic approach.
There's great value in that, and even psychoanalytic folks are integrating the body approaches, but, I think what you have to know is this, that if you're talking, if you're working on something in therapy and the therapist is a really good person and you feel like they really care and you keep, and you have some understanding of, my mother wasn't there, so that makes sense, that I would feel like there's something wrong with me.
Why is she not here? And it makes sense that I'm still living with that. If you get that kind of awareness and it does not shift, so you say I understand where it comes from, but there's nothing new to learn here, and I'm still feeling as bad as I felt when I first started therapy with you, then obviously it's calling for a different approach and that different approach in my experience has to.
More somatic, more emotion, and often more experiential meaning in the lull, we're paying attention to what's happening for them with themselves and with the therapist. So if you're not getting that, then just know there's other people who can help you with that and thank the person you're with and say, I'm gonna, I need something in addition.
For sure. And what are some, anything that we've maybe missed today that you wanna go over? You wanna make sure that our listeners have an opportunity to take away from this podcast? I didn't say a lot about pro being pride. I said a little, but I really want people to get that these are experiences that are not just ecstatic experiences.
Kind of one way I think about pro being is like when a baby is born, if they're born into a family that welcomes them, they come into the world and they go. So that's a kind of what's called express delight. But if you're working with someone who's paying attention to this thing, and I call pro being pre, you can call it other things because it's not like I discovered the phenomenon.
I just gave it a way to think about it. Then what you're wanting to have is a, is an experience where the person is uniquely interested in who you. And who is interested in a way that doesn't in any way leave you feeling like they're doing a technique on you. Even if they have a technique like EMDR or another approach, the experiences, they are genuinely interested and they actually enjoy me.
And enjoy me for being mean. Not enjoy me because they accomplished something. And so this is what I mean by pro being and when I'm doing therapy with. When I get a sense that their unique way of being in the world shows up in the session, I bring attention to that. It could be really subtle.
It could just be a particular way they laugh or move their body, or it could be just something they find interesting, like they really like this video game. And I'm like, I'm not a fan really, but I say, Tell me about it. And then you find out like, what is it about the video game you're like, and you find out?
It's really varies depending on the person. It's not the I just like blowing people up cuz I feel powerful. It's no, it's many things. And or I saw this movie, tell me about the movie. What was it that grabbed you? And you may think, that's obvious to ask about that.
But if you listen closely, you start getting a. That is the person who he or she and me CLE is. And you sometimes you could, once you hone in on that, then you could say things like, I bet you were like this when you were three or five or seven this special quality. And they'll be like, yeah, that's true.
So then I'm bringing some real interest to that. And if you. Pay close attention and help the person you're with pay close attention to their unique way of being and relating their really unique way. Cuz we're all unique. We all share things as human beings and that brings us together collectively.
But then there are unique qualities. If the person really takes interest at over time delight in how they uniquely are, they cannot be in a shame state. You can't be in a place of deep. You can feel shame sometimes, but you can't be in a shame state if you feel this. There I am. Seen, known, felt, cared for, loved, and more than that, delighted you've taken pleasure in being who uniquely are that's, that experience of the pro being is very real. It's not abstract. And the therapists who know to work with that, whether they call it pro being or not, is less important than taking that unique pleasure in the person being their unique selves. That's the most powerful antidote to shame.
You can't be in the shame state and feel enliven for being who you are. Yeah, and I think that's such a beautiful concept and reminder for all therapists to really, truly tune in and connect and show that positive regard and interest and connection with their clients. And to over time. Help or over time the person they're working with, experiences that toward themselves, including those aspects of themselves that they prefer not to think or feel.
Definitely. I appreciate you so much for coming to join us today. You have decades of knowledge and experience. I definitely learned myself a lot and I'm sure so many of our listeners, therapists, and clients are lay. Really picked up a lot of great information. And it'd be great if you could just share where people could find you and where your book is available and I think that would be really helpful.
So if people were wanting to find me to work with me I'm busy right now, but if at some point I had time, I'm in the San Francisco Bay area and I have a a website through Psychology Today. So if you just typed in my. There's only one back to probing. There's only one me without name. You're not gonna have any trouble finding me.
So that's one way. My book is called Shame, pride in Relational Trauma Concepts and Psychotherapy. Again, it's more geared toward trauma therapists. But sometimes other people who are not trouble with therapists found of somehow it's published by Rutledge, R o u t l e D G E, and then it's on a most book sites, Amazon and others as well have it.
So if you have a particular favorite online bookstore that you go to, as long as they have books around psychology or psychotherapy, you'd find it. I'd done other podcasts, so if, if. Google my name. You'll hear podcasts where we talk about some similar things, but also different things. So you can do that.
These are video recorded, but also audio podcasts. If you're more interested in this from a kind of a training perspective, I do webinars. I have variety of webinars coming up. Again, those you can usually find by Googling or if they're interested, they can contact me and I can tell you where they are.
And these are ones you can attend to because a attend because they're webinars. I have also, I do sometimes live presentations. That are not video recorded, then you have to meet in person. But most of what I do in terms of training is webinars that anyone can attend and that are usually pretty affordable.
So we would go into these kinds of things in greater depth. I have a site called Research Gate. It's a really a website for people who do scholarly work. And if you went to research gate.com. And typed in my name, you would see some articles there that you could download. Many of them are written for professionals, but many of them are written for just people who are not trained per se, but are interested in understanding shame.
And and many of the articles you can just download for free. So that's another way to get to know more of what I am. Yeah. Wonderful. Thank you so much again for your time. I really appreciate meeting you and hearing about all of your great work that you've done, and I know I've definitely learned something from you today.
So thank you so much. Thank you. I appreciate being here with you. Thanks.