Use these tips to heal your partner, your bond and relationship.

We live in culture that constantly poses threat to our confidence. It is too easy to fall into the nightmare of feeling worthless, unloved, flawed at the slight provocation.

Even when it happens to someone we are close to. Not only do we have to deal with our shame, we have to handle the other person’s.

Shame is a silent killer and often the driving force behind relationship conflicts and damage, if not handled well.

It thrives off looks, financial status, gender, sexuality, religious and political beliefs and addictions.

Shame in women

Feelings of shame in women are connected to the things they think they should do but fail.

These include being a good mother, a caring sister or friend, a sexy wife, good daughter, among others.

Women usually turn inside, on themselves, to place the blame. They look embarrased or try to hide.

Shame in men

It is connected to perceived weakness. “There seems to be one major expectation for men, do NOT appear weak,” says Dr. Brené Brown, expert on shame.

Men point the blame on others in anger or violent behaviour.

Dos and Donts

Denial

Don’t deny the shame or discomfort that comes with it. The more you deny it, the more pronounced it becomes.

This can lead to defensiveness, annoyance, irritability, exaggeration which can deepen the damage.

Identify the cause

Shame often reveals an insecurity. Address the insecurity to remove the atmosphere that the shame thrives in. Shame from financial status or sex-related attacks may signal feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness and feelings of not being attractive.

According to Helen B. Lewis, a pioneer in recognizing the importance of shame to psychotherapy, shame comes with a host of painful emotions including “humiliation, embarrassment, feelings of low self-esteem, belittlement, and stigmatization”.

It “is often experienced as a critical inner voice that judges us as “damaged goods,” inadequate, inferior, or worthless” according to Jed Diamond, PhD, Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Read on for tips to heal the injury

Empathy and compassion

When we are feeling terrible ourselves, it is hard to admit how we feel. So be the voice of understanding for your partner. Chances are high your partner values your opinion and trusts you with their weaknesses.

Help them see the big picture, and to find a mindset that will foster admittance to the cause of the shame and the shame itself.

This also stops the cycle of shame and blame.

Help them undertand what they are ashamed of and their response to it.

Physical touch and pampering

Engage in as much physical touch as possible. This includes hugs, cuddling, among others.

According to Neuroeconomist Paul Zak, a full body hug of 20 seconds or more triggers the release of the connection hormone Oxytocin.

It also lowers cortisol levels which reduces stress. In this case, the shame increases levels of stress hormone.

Affirmations or mantra

Use a mantra or affirmation to refocus their mind and keep them calm.

When shame hits, the rational or thinking part of the brain shuts down.

This allows the conditioned response to take over. Use a mantra that resonates with them.

Put it in a convenient place for them to remember it or use it when needed.

Record the ritual

Let the experience teach you how to handle future occurences. Create a ritual for ‘recovering from shame’.

The ritual can encompass all that you use to help them and include more. Peter A. Levine, Ph.D., says that movement is an effective practice in recovery from stress responses.

Use whatever suits them to get them moving. It can be taking a walk together, going on a trip (if it warrants it), dancing, jogging, among others.

Values and goals

Remind them of their value. Talk about your relationship or their personal goals and dreams.

Reminding them of their values and future goals helps create a frame to process their shame.

It can restore confidence and minimise the effect of the shame.

Physical stance

Encourage them to practice a powe pose. A power pose is standing like a superhero.

According to Amy Cuddy, Ph.D., a researcher on discrimination and stereotyping, power posing reduces levels of the stress hormone Cortisol and increases the confidence hormone Testosterone.

Take control of the narrative

Help them own the event or narrative. The way you both handle the situation will be infinitely better than the impersonal way the public will.

Own what they are saying and handle it with love and care.

Usually shame makes us afraid to admit something. We think that when we admit it, we will “die” from more shame.

,Pulse Uganda,

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