I can’t stress a vital principle of AST Model of Holistic Shame Resolution work enough: wade into the waters of your client, co-create with them and allow them to guide your guidance.
In my experience, although chronic shame resolution work involves slow, incremental shifts, when very deep early needs for external protection are finally met, it can shift the very foundation of someone’s experience in a profoundly curative way.
Working with many cultures around the world, where verbalizing one’s thoughts is less important or even shameful than it is in the West, has taught me that naming shame is not always crucial to its resolution. In fact, it is not even one of the 10 Milestones of shame transformation according to AST Model®.
Shame is often experienced as a massive, tornado-like swirl of helplessness and hopelessness that keeps tearing through our hearts and minds, through the very core of our being. Its redundant looping can become stuck on any number of thoughts of inadequacy: I am such a terrible failure; there is no way anyone could ever love me; I shouldn’t even bother trying, there’s no way I’m gonna measure; I don’t want anyone to see me; No one could ever understand what I am going through. It’s as if these voices trap people inside the black hole of shame’s universe, with seemingly no way out.
People ask me all the time about the importance of compassion in shame resolution work. My response is always the same: “It is crucial at the right time, in the right dose, and with the help of mirror neurons.”
Have you ever noticed feeling unsettled when a perfectly safe person, be it a colleague, a recent acquaintance, perhaps even your mailman stands close to you? There’s nothing specific to connect the feelings with, just a sense of discomfort, tension, awkwardness. Maybe you feel queasy or shaky, maybe a strong urge to run away over takes you but there’s no logical reason why. Rest assured, you’re not alone.