Aneesah Bakker

Owner/Director/Developer, Creative Change Coaching

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Vulnerability is a risky business, mostly met by shame. How does one confront shame productively?

"Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage" Brené Brown

Does this mean that practicing vulnerability is practicing courage?
This then seems to lead to the "fact" that practicing vulnerability, risks the experience of shame/being shamed by others.

Shame is an epidemic that needs to be confronted. How does one confront shame?

Brené Brown, from my understanding, offers multiple suggestions.

1. Question our assumptions - e.g. Is vulnerability really a weakness or can it be seen as a strength?

2. Redefine one's perception of what constitutes failure and what constitutes success. "Entering the arena" is an act of success no matter what the critics "judge"

3. Be willing to step out of one's comfort zone

4. Develop & practice empathy

5. Shift ones perceptions about the price one pays for vulnerability. To see that there is more to gain (than to lose) from practicing vulnerability and confronting shame. There is greater suffering in staying small than in daring greatness

6. Confront the practices of "secrecy, silence, (and) judgment"

7. It would be great if people shared their metaphors for vulnerability and shame and how this can be changed. For example, flying under the radar can be turned around to "stepping into the arena"

These are just explorations, and of course expose my vulnerabilities such as that I have no definite direction, no ready answers, no bullet-proof strategies... but it's a stepping into the arena...

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    Apr 2 2012: I am gaining valuable insights from this conversation... and fantastic resources to further explore.

    From experience, observation and this conversation, I have become increasingly aware of patterns, especially generational patterns in handing down certain behavioral patterns. For example, a parent can encourage/pressure their child (now an adult and parent) to use what "others" may perceive as harsh (and shaming) disciplinary measures on their off-spring.

    How much of it is mindful (rationalized as for their own good and out of love) and how much of this behavior is a case of simply not knowing better?

    This leads me to wonder if mindfulness training can be part of the solution here. Whether teaching awareness about how shame does not empower but disempowers will make a difference?

    Are there other aspects to this? Can an entire culture "normalize" particular values and acts so that the "victim" is seen as weak and different? "Weakness" and "perceived weakness" has been touched upon, and I would like to invite conversation on this.
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      Apr 2 2012: Good question Aneesah...
      "How much of it is mindful (rationalized as for their own good and out of love) and how much of this behavior is a case of simply not knowing better?"

      I think/feel mindfulness training is definitely part of the solution! I think many times, with the "normalization" process, people repeat mantras. "My parents spanked me, and I'm fine, so I spank my kids too". This is simply an example and I'm not judging for spanking or not spanking. Do we think about the message we're sending with hitting a child for the purpose of teaching something?

      I hear parents calling their kids "stupid", "crazy", "idiots", etc. They may say it's only a word...doesn't mean anything. How many times can we call a child an idiot before s/he starts accepting this label?

      Many of the guys I interacted with in jail were labeled ADHD as children. Often, when we were tallking about their life experiences, why they were in jail, etc., they said..."I'm ADD...what do you expect?" They took on that label as their whole identity, and for them it was a way of explaining why their life was as it was.

      We started to "normalize" ADHD now as a society haven't we? If we cannot understand a child, or the child is more active than we want to see in the classroom (uncontrolable in someone,s perception) we label him/her ADHD, give him/her some meds...problem solved....right? There are WAY too many kids on behavior modifying drugs these days. So, yes, I believe an entire culture can "normalize" behaviors.

      A lot of the guys in jail are very creative, intelligent human beings who were not behaving appropriately as young children, so they were labeled and put on drugs because it sometimes seems easier. And what are the consequences down the road for these people who never learned how to think, feel for themselves and/or change their behaviors? They get "stuck" in a system of normalizing their circumstances.....yes?
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        Apr 2 2012: Dear Colleen,

        Thank you for this. I also think that in many cases, mindfulness is part of the solution. How often do you see a mother screaming on top of her voice at a child, demanding that the child stop screaming (to get what they want). It's a matter of do what I say not what I do, and yes, the example of spanking. When I encounter situations like these, I think the parent is so disconnected/reactive that they do not take pause to consider "what message am I giving my child here?"

        Sometime, I think parents are so concerned that others are judging them that they feel they have to be extreme to show that they are trying... Of course there are other sides to this "story". What is really called for, needs parents to learn skills such as time management, stress management and more...

        I think, there are too many cases where one can say, it's the only way, we are in a hurry, the pressures of life, and all the other justifications that "normalize" certain behavior.

        As for name-calling, again, I think it may be called "harmless". I agree with you "How many times can we call a child an idiot before s/he starts accepting this label?"

        The ADHD label - I an incredulous. Mindfulness training helps in cases where you see the parent opening the child's energy drink and at the same time saying to you:" gosh! s/he just can't sit still. I can't tell you where this comes from".

        I found this podcast last week, where they also discuss the ADHD label and the increasing number of kids being put on this medication when all they want to do is play (but are not given the opportunity for free play). Funny enough, Kevin Carroll was being interviewed on the value of "play"!

        and I think this is just the tip of the iceberg that nevertheless illustrates how "an entire culture can "normalize" behaviors."
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        Apr 3 2012: Hi Aneesah!
        You asked: "Can an entire culture 'normalize' particular values and acts to that the 'victim is seen as weak and different?"

        Absolutely. That's what Nazi Germany was all about, but they were just an extreme example. There are plenty of other examples in this country of both the larger U.S. culture and lots of our sub-cultures normalizing looking down on others.

        And the tool used always involves some kind of shaming process. Sometimes the shame is used 'consciously' in a deliberate way; often it's completely unconscious. Often it's used deliberately in the mistaken belief that it's for the 'good of the other.'
        Families and individuals pass it down the generations, resulting in the patterns you mentioned…

        Until as Colleen points out, someone breaks the pattern.
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      Apr 2 2012: Aneesah,
      I want to share one of my little stories about "normalizing". As a wee small child, my mother would often stick a note in my pocket and tell me to give it to the nuns when I went to school. The note often asked the nuns to let me sleep that day, or it would ask them to please feed me. No one ever asked little 6 yr. old Colleen why she was not eating or sleeping in her home. If they had, they might have found out that our refrigerator had a chain around it because my father decided that we were eating too much that week. Or, they might have discovered that everyone in the house was awake and frightened all night because my father was in another rampage.

      I lived in a "normal", middle class, law abiding, good irish catholic family, with 7 other siblings, all of whom went to the same catholic school. My father volunteered for the school, church and he was a law enforcement officer. It seemed that everyone thought our life was "normal", so as a child, I thought it was normal too! If nobody was questioning the situation, must be it was the "normal" way that ALL families functioned. I accepted it, didn't complain, and survived to the best of my ability. It wasn't until I was a teenager, and started staying at my friends houses (mostly to escape my own home situation) that I discovered that all families did NOT function in the same way. If one does not have the opportunity or willingness to step outside what has been offered as "normal", then we never see or understand the difference.
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        Apr 2 2012: thank you for sharing Colleen. It does give me insight into the dynamics of "normalization".

        Living in the neighborhood I lived in, my upbringing also seemed "normal" though of course, my experience did not feel so. I comforted myself by being grateful that I didn't share the fate of some of my friends... when my one friend's mother went on the rampage, and this went on for years, even when he was 12, she would make him undress and throw him out - he had to run around in public and would get a beating if he hid behind anything to hide his nakedness. None of the other adults did anything. Everyone pretended that one of this happened. No one seemed to realize that this was "wrong". It was "normal".

        It brings up another side of the story, the "secret" side. To the child, it seems like the other adults and community are going out of their way to protect the reputation of the the "oppressor"... and one is not allowed to say anything that would bring their reputation into question... one big cover-up.
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          Apr 2 2012: Yes Aneesah....I believe that is exactly how oppression, abuse, bullying...whatever name we want to give it...get's normalized. It becomes accepted to the point where no one wants to intervene. The oppressed one becomes the oppressor because s/he either believes it is normal, or it is so ingrained into the life style, it may feel really uncomfortable to change the behavior....ESPECIALLY if no one is going to help or support the new idea. The oppressor often will bully the one who questions his/her actions. So, everybody ignores it, or keeps it a secret.....and the cycle continues........................

          p.s. That being said, there are certainly a LOT of us who HAVE broken the cycle.
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        Apr 3 2012: Colleen and Aneesah,
        I want to thank you both for sharing those examples from your own life experience. I also grew up in a troubled household, one where anger and rage were the predominant emotional states modeled by my mother, who was single-handedly trying to raise 4 children with no physical, emotional, or any other kind of support. My mother was probably the single most shame-based person I've ever met. And I understand how she got that way.

        As I child I remember her telling about losing her best friend, who lived next door. The girl drowned in an accident because she couldn't swim. It seems that all the neighborhood kids were playing on a raft that was tied up to a dock, and somehow the raft got loose and was drifting out into the river behind their houses. My mother talked of how bad she felt that she wasn't able to save her friend. I could tell that she felt guilty and ashamed about it, but only when I was in my 40's did I hear a key part of her story.

        It came up when she was visiting me for the first time in probably 20 years. She mentioned her friend's death and said she still felt guilty after all the years. She mentioned that every time she walked by her dead friend's house she felt awful. I was thinking about how she must have felt as a little girl, and I asked if her friend's parent blamed her for their daughters drowning. She said, "Oh no, they never mentioned it." I then asked if my mother's parents had talked to her and reassured her that she wasn't to blame. She said, "Oh no, they never talked to me about it. I think they realized I'd learned my lesson."

        I was so shocked I felt physically ill. I couldn't believe that a little girl had lived every day of her life with that guilt and shame because her parents were so clueless about what she needed. But it fit with everything else I'd heard about their supremely unloving household.

        Because no one recognized her shame, she couldn't heal, and so unintentionally passed it on to all her kids
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    Mar 29 2012: The topic of humor has been introduced. Inspired to further explore it's potential, I discovered another TED talk.


    This is the bio:
    "New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly shares a portfolio of her wise and funny cartoons about modern life -- and talks about how humor can empower women to change the rules.

    New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly tackles global issues with humor, intelligence and sarcasm. Her latest project supports the United Nations initiative Cartooning For Peace."

    This is the talk:

    Would love to hear your ideas
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      Mar 29 2012: Aneesah,
      Thanks for pointing us to that important & funny TED Talk - I love her sense of humor. I've seen her work in the New Yorker many times, and it's nice to get a sense of her as a person. I think she's right about the power of humor as a tool for change.

      Speaking as a man - it might not be evident to everyone in these TED discussions that I'm male, since I haven't yet figured out how to post a picture of myself on my profil), and my name is one that's often assumed to be feminine...

      I've spent my whole life trying to be an ally to women, and hoping that my culture (here in the U.S.) would shift in the direction of having more women in positions of power - assuming that they're actually bring with them a greater sense of valuing life, and not just be those who've adapted so well to the male power model that they've become hyper-masculine in their thinking...

      I worked for years in hospitals where some pretty tough female doctors were running some pretty important departments. I was always dismayed that they'd obviously had learned to out-male the male power structure they were embedded in; to be 10 times more masculine in their thinking than their male competitors, just to get to where they were.

      There's probably no way to say this without risking offending some segment of women-hood, since this could be seen as promoting a stereotype, or imposing some model of 'correct' female behavior, but I'll take whatever knocks that come.

      IMHO, women who ape the traditional male behaviors of hyper-aggressiveness of the kind that leads to violence and war, are not helping humanity as a whole to evolve as a species. Especially those who enter the military and want to be able to kill and destroy just as men do.

      I think we need women who bring the values of cherishing and protecting life in FAR greater numbers in our governing structures. It helps too if they bring a sense of humor! They just might bring us back from the brink of the destructive path we're currently on
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        Mar 29 2012: Hi Sandy

        To your comment: Thanks for pointing us to that important & funny TED Talk - I love her sense of humor. I've seen her work in the New Yorker many times, and it's nice to get a sense of her as a person. I think she's right about the power of humor as a tool for change.

        You are welcome. It's a pretty incredible talk and one can see the potential of humor. The conversation accompanying that talk (and still current), gives one some valuable insights into how humor influences and is experienced by different people.

        To your comment:

        "Speaking as a man - it might not be evident to everyone in these TED discussions that I'm male, since I haven't yet figured out how to post a picture of myself on my profil), and my name is one that's often assumed to be feminine..."

        I was one of those who didn't realize you were male. Here I was thinking I can learn something from your perseverance! (I still can). I read a HBR (Harvard Business Review) earlier this year that highlighted what holds women back. One of the new rules it was suggested women adopt is to "proceed until apprehended". I am learning to be less cautious and coming to realize that it's not always a bad thing to cross some boundaries (when done with integrity and good will).

        Looks like you get to meet a lot of women who have taken this to a whole other level though! At the end of the day it's all about intention, integrity and authenticity...

        A sense of humor usually reflects personal power, flexibility and compassion!

        It would be interesting to see what others say. I've met a lot of pretty great men, who embrace their capacity for compassion and assertiveness at the same time.
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      Mar 29 2012: ...and I hope it's completely obvious that I think that men who seem committed to moving us further along TOWARDS destruction damn sure need to change those behaviors to.

      I've never understood how parents can be willing to put in all the blood, sweat & tears that it takes to raise their children, for at least 18 years...and then be willing to send them off to kill, maim, destroy and/or be killed, maimed or be turned into tools of oppression...
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        Mar 29 2012: There are still countries where military service is not optional. This can leave one feeling helpless and oppressed! This just points out one of the many areas where radical change is called for.
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          Mar 29 2012: Aneesah, as one of my favorite TV characters used to say, "Indeed. True dat."

          The military arena is very deadly and life-denying, in my experience. I was drafted during the height of the TET offensive in the VN war, and my perception of the military was: the largest insane asylum in the world...

          As a very young boy I was aware that one of the social expectations I was supposed to take on was the knowledge that I might have to go off and kill people in foreign lands some day in the future. You can't tell me that kind of expectation doesn't mess with young boys' minds...

          Beginning in basic training and continuing throughout the course of military experience, shame is used heavily to remind young men that they are never to challenge their conditioning to be killers, Not knowing how to deal with their automatic triggers to feel shamed by others puts them at enormous risk of having to live with some pretty awful memories, assuming they survive their service physically.

          And they learn quickly that to show weakness or lack of resolve in killing will bring all kinds of shaming derision of their 'manhood' down on their heads. Many a soldier has gone to his death in situations that he can see are absolutely pointless, knowing that he's doing that, rather than face the risk of being called 'coward.'

          I was fortunate, and through some amazing circumstances I can only describe as a kind of grace, I managed to keep my military career very brief. So I never went to VN. I'm pretty sure if I had I wouldn't have survived, at least not emotionally.

          In this country the military is held in (for me) an astonishingly high level of admiration and even reverence...that is quite undeserved, IMHO. I place a high priority on freeing up the trillions we spend in our National quest to be 'invulnerable' so that it can be used to support life, not death. In the U.S. the military budget is the ultimate '3rd rail of politics.'
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      Mar 29 2012: Entertaining and informative Aneesah...thanks for the link.

      It reminds me of somthing I read and used in workshops/classes years ago, by Pat Heim, Ph.D. and Susan K. Golant - "Hardball for Women" and "Hardball for Women Playbook". In fact, I heard Patricia Heim speak at a really wonderful conference I attended in 1994, and she's delightful. Other speakers were Cathy Lee Crosby, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Cicely Tyson, & Melody Beattie.

      In Hardball for women, Pat Heim talks about the programming we recieve as children, starting with the pink and blue blankets when we are first born. Did you know that studies have been done showing that almost everyone treats the babies differently based on what color clothing and blankets they are wearing? It's pretty amazing.

      And just as Liza says, girls/women have been taught to be gentle, kind, caregivers, emotional supporters from the time they are small children. Boys are taught to be tough, and warned not to show emotions because that will appear as "weak". One example Pat Heim gives is a little girl who wants to climb a tree. She may be told not to get her cloths dirty, she might hurt herself, etc. While the little boy who climbs the tree is often given kudos because he is a "real boy".

      We were definetely given certain "roles" as children, and if one did not accept the role, we may have been shunned by family or society. So, we were taught that it was better to accept the role we were given, if we wanted to be accepted. How much of our own natural "self" did we stiffle with that practice??? Both boys and girls!

      I LOVE to use humor, and I hope I didn't seem dismissive of humor in my other comment, when you wanted to pursue it. We need to be conscious of how, why, when and with whom we use it, and I think/feel you are aware of that:>) It's always good to use it with ourself!

      I read another article today..laughter releases healing endorphins...boosts mood...reduces pain...lowers blood pressure...improves the immune system.....
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        Mar 30 2012: Hi Colleen, thank you for your wonderful sharing. Becoming aware of these dynamics, roles, expectations can help us respond in ways that empower others. This would be a version of empathy, I suppose, when we respect the others potential instead of imposing "roles". We are in total agreement.

        I didn't get the impression that you were being dismissive of humor. To the contrary. I love how you describe your mother's sense of humor and the role it played in your life. The paradox of it all is that "role" and "role-model" can have so many dimensions.

        I look forward to exploring the "Hardball for Women Playbook"... I suspect it is something right up my alley!

        and YES, laughter is the best medicine!... ps. is it a medicine or is it soul-food? ... just love wordplay!
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          Mar 30 2012: Aneesah,
          This thread we have going, seems to overlap and connect with another thread Mitch, Linda and I are involved in.

          The question in that it preferable to analyze others, or listen carefully to the information they are giving us?

          For me, it is preferable to listen carefully rather than analyze, for the reason you state above..."Becoming aware of these dynamics, roles, expectations can help us respond in ways that empower others. This would be a version of empathy... when we respect the others potential instead of imposing "roles".

          For me, analysis of another person is done through my own filters, as I believe everyone's analysis is done. When we practice the analysis of others, do we give them the "role", as we see "them", thereby disempowering them? Once we decide the "role" of another person, we generally stop listening, so we deny ourselves accurate information....yes, no...maybe?

          I totally agree with you Aneesah, that "respecting others potential, instead of imposing our "roles", based on our analysis, is empathy. When we allow others to share their stories, feelings, thoughts, ideas and opinions without our own analysis, I believe that it empowers both the giver and reciever.

          FYI - "Hardball for Women Playbook" is a follow-up to "Hardball for Women", which was published a year after the original. I used both, for teaching/workshop guides, along with a LOT of other information. The "playbook" certainly can stand on it's own.

          Re: Laughter as medicine/soul-food?
          I think/feel that it is soul food when used to prevent imbalance, sickness, etc., and "medicine" once one is imbalanced:>) That work for you??? LOL:>)
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        Mar 30 2012: Hi Colleen,

        Ran out of "conversation thread" so will post here to "This thread we have going, seems to overlap and connect with another thread Mitch, Linda and I are involved in.

        The question in that it preferable to analyze others, or listen carefully to the information they are giving us? "

        I noticed and am following with great enthusiasm. There are concepts that are new to me - though do realize that often we are sharing similar ideas just using different language/concepts, etc. to others.

        Yes, I looked up these references "hardball for Women" an the Playbook. I have been reading what I can find online, until I get my own copies. The authors offer the empowering metaphor of "playing the game" while remaining true to my inner self. I look forward to "learning the strategies so I can play with the big boys…," LOL

        Wordplay helps me keep a balanced perspective on the meaning of words. At the end of the day, nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so. (Hamlet?)
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          Mar 30 2012: I LOVE conversing with you Aneesah.....the conversation flows....

          Yes indeed:
          Why then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or
          bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.

          As soon as you read and assimilate Hardball for Women, you will escape the prison, and be able to play with the big boys!!! LOL

          I thought you might like the idea of "playing the game" while remaining true to youself. I call everything in life work/play. This gives everything, including challenges, an interesting perspective.
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    Mar 27 2012: Aneesah,
    Thank you for affirming that you saw some value in what I was contributing. Since my 'shame receptors' are still functional, I was beginning to wonder if I perhaps going to be politely asked not to contribute further to this conversation page, so I'm greatly relieved that's not the case.

    I'm delighted that you're encouraging Mitch Smith to add to the mix! His ideas resonate with me also. At first I couldn't grasp much of what he was saying, but I'm glad I hung in there with it...confusion often precedes learning, I've learned! ;-)

    If Mitch and I were on the same continent, I'd invite him out for a beer, or other beverage of his choice...and I'd buy a pennywhistle from him too!

    And I greatly appreciate the new TED Talk & "Hardwired for Empathy" links! I just love finding people and ideas I can connect & resonate with - I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that for me it's about as exciting as waking up on Christmas day and seeing all the goodies under the tree!

    And wonder of wonders: Alan Greenspan said something I'm in agreement with! These must truly be the End Times! ;-)

    Too funny!

    Thanks for letting me know I'm making some kind of difference here...despite a lifetime of soul-searching, I confess I still get insecure from time to time and like to be reassured from time to, daily!
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      Mar 27 2012: You are very welcome. I did recognize a little bit of places I have been and sometimes find myself in... This is why I have such an affinity for daily practices... it just keeps me in a better place (a lot of the time, I am just looking for the ratio of more often than not, so anything above 50% works for me)

      I am am relieved that you understood what I meant, it was a risk I thought that was worth taking. It is a wonderful feeling of course to connect on a heartfelt level! (the risk of being misunderstood)

      I suspected your curiosity and excitement might be tickled by "hardwired for empathy".

      Let's continue to celebrate the possibilities that are still open to us and continue to keep the lines of communication open. Here's to crossing some wires and celebrating the sparks that fly!

      ps. I just received an email of appreciation and even I am at a loss for words to describe on how many levels I am touched..., perhaps because words cannot fully describe/measure the powerful energy of appreciation.
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    Mar 31 2012: Mitch have you run this through the technical forums that deal in this field/s? I think you might have to argue it out with them then come back and teach us just what the hell you are talking about on a TED stage on camera.Do you have a podcast? It's obvious you are passionate about what you are trying to convey but it might be better if it is explained verbally or on video.Bloody hell! put it on the Tube then give us a link to it.

    What happened to that God post you put up.
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    Mar 30 2012: This is exciting stuff...Stuart Brown says play is more than fun...

    Just started listening to this TED talk:

    An invitation to play over-rides a hungry bear's carnivorous instinct, ... a state of play that allows these two creatures to explore what is possible

    Stuart Brown talks about how The Texas Tower murderer brought him to realize the importance of play and the consequences of play deprivation.

    Can stopping play create a shame experience?

    I can remember being reprimanded for playing, being playful... or just having a relaxed, pleasant smile. I was a brilliant student and a favourite subject of mine was math. When I was 12, my math teacher took exception to the fact that I always had a smile. In spite of my great track record and never causing any trouble, she continued to pick on me throughout the lesson. She wanted me to "wipe that smile of my face". (Even at this tender age, I've had boys telling me, really, that I am killing them softly with my smile... no kidding). Absolutely confused, I told my father about this teacher's comments and harsh looks.

    He advised me to speak to her about it. The next day, I went to the teacher's staff room and asked to speak with her. I can't remember what she said but she was surprised, respectful and I didn't have a problem with her again.

    (ps. at that point in time, I personally was going through countless personal traumas including a mother who was newly diagnosed with cancer). I count myself "lucky" that I did not draw the conclusion that it was wrong to smile!
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      Mar 31 2012: "Can stopping play create a shame experience?"

      Oh YEAH it can...

      If I wanted to get all technical on you about it, I'd quote a wise person who said: "Any sudden, unexpected reduction in positive Affect [the kind we experience while truly playing] leaves us vulnerable to experiencing shame..."

      OK, I've said too much already... ;-)

      You were pretty courageous to go directly to the teacher about that. Good on you!
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        Mar 31 2012: Sandy, you got to the heart of the matter.

        I think there are many ways of looking at this. Two I can think of is:

        When in a state of "play" or connected to our inner greatness (just to use terms we used earlier), we are innocent and open. It comes as a shock when there is some kind of interference. It can lead to confusion but the real oppression comes from getting the impression/message that you did something wrong. This is where one is vulnerable (as a child) to think that "I am wrong". All I did was stay in touch with my inner peace, only to be told that I am doing something wrong... it was like I shouldn't be there. Fortunately, my inner connection did make me realize something was off. The action on my part, did save me from a shame experience.

        Thank you for: "You were pretty courageous to go directly to the teacher about that. Good on you!". I can also remember other situations where I did believe "I am wrong", "I am a mistake". It is only as I reconnected to my personal power as an adult, that I was able to "recast" these other experiences.

        The other perspective I have on this is that as an adult, when living in our power, one is LESS vulnerable to these "interruptions" or interferences that we encounter.

        BY THE WAY
        I love the photograph! Good on you for working the technicalities out :-)
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      Mar 31 2012: Dear Aneesah,
      Of course I LOVE this video and the ideas and research Stuart Brown presents:>) He says there's not much research, then goes on to tell us all the research that HAS been done on this topic...LOL:>) We know that there's also been a LOT of research on the benefits of laughter, which is very connected to playfullness.

      The bear/dog scene is precious, and has been traveling around the internet for quite awhile. Hopefully, the valuable lesson is embraced. Reminds me of my mother and father was almost always in a confrontational, attack mode, and my mother was always kind, joyful, and unconditionally loving. One person, genuinely in a loving, accepting, peaceful, content state of being, can often change the scene...I've seen it, and participated in the practice SO many times:>)

      People often mistake playfullness as not as serious, when, in fact, it is just as serious and beneficial as more introspective exploration. Humor, laughter, playfullness and joy are very important componants for a peaceful, content life. As Stuart brings to light, and I totally agree with, playfullness can be a linking mechanism in our everyday life. It contributes to the "flow" increasing our focus, involvement, and passion with everything and everyone we interact with.

      I relate with Stuart and his work with murderers. Although I never interacted with murderers, I HAVE interacted with lots of incarcerated men. Most of them were in a family of origin, where drugs and/or alcohol violence and abuse were very common. They were often in a defense/survival mode, and rarely participated in healthy "play". For many of them, their "play" was abusing animals or other people, and it is not a mystery why they ended up in jail. I totally agree that play deprivation is an important factor behind the number of people who are incarcerated, as well as the incredible number of people in our world who are seeking peace and contentment.
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        Mar 31 2012: Hi Colleen,

        Amen to your comment.

        You raise a very fascinating point: "They were often in a defense/survival mode, and rarely participated in healthy "play". For many of them, their "play" was abusing animals or other people, and it is not a mystery why they ended up in jail."

        I wonder what this experience of play was for them? Perhaps it is like the other experiences involving abuse, e.g. drug or alcohol abuse, where there is a temporary release that is neither fulfilling nor regenerative?

        The clue probably lies in them being in the defense/survival mode...
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          Apr 2 2012: Hi Aneesah,

          We talked about the generational aspect of this topic, and what I noticed, is that many of the same patterns are repeated in families for generations. Sometimes, when we see the same behaviors repeated by everyone around us, the behavior becomes normalized in the offenders perception. While dealing with offenders of minor crimes, I often heard..."everybody's doing it...what's your problem?"

          The first questions I usually asked the offenders were "what were you thinking"..."what were you feeling" when you committed the crime"? Usually, the answers were "nothing"..."I wasn't thinking or feeling anything"...."I just did it". They often expressed being "out of control", "losing it", "blacking out"...statements that suggest that they wearn't aware of what they were doing.

          Based on this information, I would say that the answer to your question..."I wonder what this experience of play was for them?"! I suggest that their protective mechanisms (tough unfeeling demeanor) was so strong that it dominated the experience so that they could not, or would not, think or feel anything about what was happening. They often did not think or feel about consequences to themselves or others, which is one reason the patterns keep repeating.

          The "cognitive self change" sessions, and other programs I facilitated, were simply to encourage the offenders to "think" about, and "feel" their behaviors. Usually, they were not aware that they were repeating learned behaviors. Many of them don't know how to think about consequences.

          There is a good book and program I used at times called "Houses of Healing - a prisoner's guide to inner power and freedom" by Robin Casarjian. The program is used as a requirement for parole in a few states in the USA.

          The offenders are just as disempowered as the victims, except they have built a very strong protective system, including using the persona of a very tough, uncaring person. They are hurting children in my perception.
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    Mar 27 2012: Colleen,
    Thanks for the encouragement to continue what I've been doing for decades. I can't seem to stop doing it, and I value the curiosity that keeps me considering everything I find as having potential value for relieving human suffering (including mine, for sure!)...

    Are you certain that you're open to that too? I ask because you seem to reject what I say pretty much out of hand. Is it in any way threatening to withhold judgment on what I'm saying?

    I'm astonished that you believe what I'm saying amounts to 'keeping people in a victim role.' Utilizing the tools I've found has helped me immensely in moving out of victimhood, though I can't say I never revisit that neighborhood.
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      Mar 27 2012: You are welcome Sandy. Encouragement of each other is one way we can all help to empower each other in this life journey. I also value curiosity and the potential that is available to all of us. Yes, I am sure of what I am open to:>) Do you not believe what I am saying, feeling and expressing? No, I do not feel threatened in any way Sandy.

      Sandy, again, I have not "rejected what you say out of hand", nor have I "judged" you or what you are saying in any way.

      Yes, I believe your theory/concept that one can never "recover" from shame is limiting. This theory leaves nothing as motivation/incentive to move through shame, in my humble perception.

      Shame: "a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, short-coming or impropriety; the susceptibility to such emotion; a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute; something that brings strong regret, censure, or reproach; syn: disgrace".

      Sandy, with all due respect, I am equally "astonished that you believe" people need to live with shame their entire lives without possibility of "recovery", as you call it. I believe we can and DO move through shame.
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    Mar 26 2012: Inviting exploration into this point:

    7. It would be great if people shared their metaphors for vulnerability and shame and how this can be changed. For example, flying under the radar can be turned around to "stepping into the arena"

    We have ways that we speak about risk, vulnerability and shame, and other words that have come up in this conversation, e.g. silence and curiosity.

    We say "silence is golden" and yet, it is not always.

    We say "curiosity killed the cat", yet curiosity is the very thing we need to thrive.

    @Colleen suggested we start re-examining our ideas about risk. I agree whole-heartedly. We have been having great fun playing with the idea of "stepping into the arena" and I would add for some friendly jostling by asking thought provoking questions of one another. I ask myself, if this was not a risky business, and having a conversation here is not really as risky as it initially seems, then a new "metaphor" stretches more into the idea of jostling and playing.

    An experience can be transformed when seen in terms of "play" for example. I think play can be a useful way to confront shame. Just exploring. A person experiencing shame, feelings of unworthiness and thoughts that "I am a mistake" might be reluctant to play, and yet this may be what can help them experience their worthiness and challenge their beliefs about their self-worth.

    Shifting our language and metaphors can shift our experiences, perception, practices. What do you think?
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      Mar 26 2012: Aneesah,
      I think playfullness can be one good tool to explore our "self", and I think perhaps one needs to be at least a little bit empowered to be able to "play" with some ideas. So, I'm thinking that one needs to already be on a path to empowerment, self esteem before s/he can be playful? We wouldn't say to a person in crisis for example..."just laugh a'll be fine"! Just as with Ed's insightful contribution...."everything that is not your original true self is not you" idea is very beneficial, we need to be in the right frame of mind/heart to be willing to accept these ideas.....yes?

      That being said, they are valuable tools when/if an individual is ready/willing/able to put them to use. You mentioned 3 important parts in your introduction, which may be first steps to realizing that vulnerability is a strength.... Be willing to step out of one's comfort zone, develope & practice empathy, and shift ones perception.

      Sometimes, being in a state of shame may be so familier to us that to step out of it is intimidating.
      On Brené Brown's site for example, a person mentions that s/he is always in a state of "battle against" her/himself. How does it feel when we let go of that battle? Sometimes, it feels like we may be letting go of part of our "self". It is necessary to have empathy for ourselves, step out of the old shoes we've been wearing, and step into "new shoes", and that's sometimes frightening. Shifting one's perception of our "self" and the circumstances we have been living with can be part of the process.

      The thing is, that there are MANY parts of the process, and changing our paradigm may take awhile. It usually doesn't happen over night, or with one theory, practice, method or belief. I DO feel, however, that compassion and empathy for/with ourselves is a very important part of the process.

      While I agree with you Aneesah, that playfulness/humor/joy can be part of the process, it may not be one of the first steps for some people. Thoughts?
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        Mar 26 2012: Hi Colleen, I was just putting it out there to invite ideas like yours... to explore how our capacity for play could be leveraged to help confront shame. I don't know much about play therapy... perhaps there are variations of using play that would be suitable for different steps of one's self-development.

        I think authenticity is key and empathy can be a guiding factor as to when and how to use play, playfulness, humor...?

        Recovery is not necessarily linear, so what is suitable one day, isn't on another. I think with any practice, it needs to be appropriate on many levels. Even empathy can be genuine and it can be forced, for example, I have seen it "applied" in a way that is nothing short of mimicry. I refer to the part where there is a forced, overused mirroring of an individuals body and other language patterns as a means to build rapport.

        Sometimes just playing a game of uno with a child can create an experience they do not usually have. This might be what helps an individual step out of their comfort zone, an opportunity to show empathy and help shift perception.

        It is certainly a journey that begins with a single step, requires ongoing work (and play). When I realize I am losing my sense of humor or playfulness, I see this as a sign that I need to reconnect with myself.

        I am open to exploring as many avenues as possible. Thanks for this opportunity.

        ps. I actually just remembered, Viktor Frankl taught fellow "prisoners" in the concentration camp, to use the practice of humor. He goes into this practice in great detail in Man's Search for Meaning. I will have to find this. (It's almost midnight here)
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          Mar 27 2012: I agree Aneesah that authenticity, empthy and compassion are valuable "keys" to all life's "doors":>) Yes, I believe that if we practice these qualities in ourselves, we "feel" when it is appropriate, and when it is not.

          I also agree that moving through shame is not the same from day to day, and I also advocate many different practices and methods on many different levels. The other very important factor, is that we are all very different as individuals.

          My home was a "safe house" for women fleeing abusive relationships for years. Sometimes, the women wanted to cry, laugh, tell their stories, listen, be silent, express their anger with hostility, express gratitude for being free (at least for one night), watch tv, take a hot bath...the expressions of their needs go on and on and were different all the time. I never knew what to expect. The only thing I knew is that I was there for them with whatever they needed at that time.

          I is a journey that begins with a single step, and that first single step will probably be different for each individual. I am also open to exploring various avenues, as I have been doing for many years. Thank YOU for providing another opportunity to explore:>)
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        Mar 27 2012: Hi Colleen,

        Funny thing happened to me today. I run a book club and this week's practice is about noticing synchronicity (meaningful coincidences).

        Today, on the way out, I picked up my book Man's Search for Meaning (by Viktor Frankl)... wondering how am I going to find the paragraph I need. It opened to the very page I needed (p55)... awesome!

        He writes that an outsider would be astonished to hear that one could find a sense of humor in a concentration camp. "Humor was another of the soul's weapons in the fight for self-preservation. It is well known that humor more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds."

        Frankl goes on to explain how he trained a friend to do this. They made a pledge to "invent at least one amusing story daily, about some incident that could happen one day after our liberation."

        He says that learning to see things in a humorous light is a a way of practicing the art of living.

        And has this to say of suffering - "Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the "size" of human suffering is absolutely relative.
        It also follows that a very trifling thing can cause the greatest of joys."

        It worked for him. How would one embrace it in a therapeutic setting or any other setting (personal, educational, parental, ...) ... a perhaps unknown territory, ... or perhaps I will discover, or someone will point out, that it is being done already!
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          Mar 27 2012: Dear Aneesah,
          I LOVE synchronicity, and I believe that the more we start noticing it, the more we draw it to us:>)

          I read that book many years ago, and was so incredibly inspired, as I am by many life stories of people who have faced incredible life challenges. It is the stories of others, that often help me move through my own challenges..."if they can face unbelievably difficult challenges, I can face my little challenge:>)

          My mother taught me the value of humor, as a woman living with a very violent abusive man for 65 years. She NEVER lost her sense of humor and unconditional love. She was clear and confident in who and what she was no matter what the circumstances were around her. She was like the mighty oak in the middle of the storm, who NEVER allowed anyone to shame her in any way. She was beaten, abused, violated, and NEVER accepted the shame and disempowerment that another person tried to give her.

          To do this, one needs to "KNOW" themselves well. I agree that to move in a different direction away from shame, with whatever practice we choose is a "way of practicing the art of living". We choose to follow our own "script", rather than the script another person tries to give us.

          It IS being done already, and we could use a lot more of this practice/perception:>)
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    Mar 26 2012: The result of repeated experiences of being 'stuck' in shame are predictable.

    Shame evolved as a tool that is best used as deftly and skillfully as a surgeon. But we live in a world where it's far more commonly used as a sledgehammer, but parents who don't really know any better.

    I don't think you have to look very far to see the disastrous results of that ignorance.

    I'm convinced that un-recognized, un-resolved shame is deeply involved in the perpetuation of all of the social ills we see around us: violence of all kinds, ranging from the easily identifiable kinds like war, murder (is there a difference?) of all kinds, all kinds of self-and-other destructive behaviors. As I've written elsewhere, Adolf Hitler's emphatic repeated message to the German people in the 30's was: "I will remove the shame!"

    Because as Linda has pointed out so compellingly, entire peoples can be shamed. I don't think most interventions aimed at relieving the suffering caused by shame work very well, and I think part of the problem is that the interventions aren't grounded in how our nervous systems actually operate.

    I'm just sayin'...
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    Mar 26 2012: What I'm describing is a typical early shame experience. It appears that shame evolved to help parent keep kids safe. The child's new found desire to actively explore the world isn't guided by a fully-developed cerebral cortex that can inform the child that some of the things it's curious about could harm them; it's the parents job to do that for the child.

    Notice how many of the events I just described are quite automatic and not under the voluntary control of either party. In this scene I just described that's a good thing; it maximizes the chances that the child will survive.

    You and I as adults can use our words to describe the intensely uncomfortable internal sensations that we've learned are called 'shame.' With enough work on ourselves we can gain some relief from them. It helps immensely that we have the ability to language our experience - assuming we have internal permission to do that. Through that process we discover all the concepts and beliefs we've associated with the body sensation we call shame.

    As confusing as shame can be for an adult, for a child it's far more confusing. The child doesn't have enough mental tools to understand what just happened. A wise, attuned parent will immediately follow their use of shame to shut down the child's potentially dangerous behavior by picking the child up and reassuring it, because the child's attachment system has been disrupted by the shame experience.

    Absent reassurance that "mom still loves me," the child is left in a state of anxious, insecure, confusion. It will use its limited cognitive capacities to try to make some kind of sense out of what just happened. The chances of the child deciding that the overall meaning of what just happened is: "I must be bad" are quite high.

    Imagine a child experiencing numerous situations in which shame is evoked - breaking what Gershen Kaufman calls 'the interpersonal bridge' between mother and child, and the mom doesn't realize the importance of restoring the bridge
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      Mar 26 2012: Hi Sandy,

      While the theory seems to support the "hard-wiring" idea, it is not really obvious to me. The extent of the shame response being out of one's control, can be questioned. When I look at the idea :Notice how many of the events I just described are quite automatic and not under the voluntary control of either party. In this scene I just described that's a good thing; it maximizes the chances that the child will survive." I have a few thoughts.

      As a mother, I have had the "startle" response with my baby. The extent of my "reaction" is made up of many conditioned/learned factors, perception and thinking. This came from my background, fears, inexperience, and more. When I noticed my child did not so much realize the extent of the danger but seemed to have a negative experience, including shock, I questioned my "reaction". I found it was very "fearful" and might get in the way of my child's future independence.

      I perceived more danger than there was. I also questioned my thoughts about the consequences of what would happen if he fell, etc. Sometimes we can make ourselves afraid because of our thoughts. Questioning these thoughts, can help one put things in healthier perspective.

      I think the learning element is greater than we think.

      Having said that, I acknowledge that you have pointed out "I'm convinced that un-recognized, un-resolved shame is deeply involved in the perpetuation of all of the social ills we see around us:" from which I infer that confronting shame is a way forward.

      For me personally, I am not in an ideal position to look at shame from the affect theory perspective. I trust that we can continue to have a productive conversation without using a shared theoretical framework.
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        Mar 26 2012: Hi again,

        Well, theory is just theory, and it's not necessary that we each buy into it. Sorry if in my passion to communicate I appear to be trying to 'sell' it to you. I only cite it because after years of looking at every perspective on shame that I could find, it makes the most sense to me. That it hasn't gotten much traction in the larger context of psychotherapy/recovery has more to do with how long it takes for really revolutionary ideas to be understood, much less accepted, IMHO. If I ever find a more helpful model, I'll adopt it in a heartbeat!

        I don't think what I've been saying is very far away from what you and Colleen are saying in your posts. But I get that I come across that way. Perhaps I've been too pedantic in expressing myself. I find it ironic and more than a bit perplexing when you each have expressed that you think I was being clear - when it seems evident to me based on the bulk of your responses, that I wasn't!

        Your description of you noticing how your fearful attitude was picked up on by your baby is a great example of the way parents & babies interact and are influenced by the interaction. I think you're correct that the learning element is great. The way it looks to me is; we interact-react-modify our reactions-interact-react... all the time learning from our experience.

        I recently heard a great talk by one of the Attachment Theory researchers - name escapes me just this moment - where he said something about how human communication in any relationship is like a dance. He said "My wife and I love to dance, but because I'm not a very skillful dancer, I know that at some point I'm probably going to step on her toes...and it's important that I apologize to her for that, so that we can get back in step with each other."

        He also commented that be believed that it was more important that we know how to repair our missteps with each other than that we try for 'perfection' in our communications...makes sense to me; what do you think?
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          Mar 26 2012: Sandy,
          I believe your theory has not "gotten much traction" because it only serves to keep people in a victim stance. I sincerely hope you explore other ideas.

          What you have been advocating is way "far away" from what I am talking about....I think/feel it is away from what Aneesah speaks about as well.

          Actually, you "come across" as a person who has accepted the fate that shame is "hardwired", and we cannot "recover" from it. That simply is not true. You are doing a dis-service to yourself and all those you interact with.

          Sandy, you are being very clear, and I do not agree with your perspective. I do not like keeping people in a victim role.

          I agree...communication is somewhat like dancing, and sometimes we step on each others toes with the process. Please know, that I have no intention to "step on your toes". We are not all necessarily going to be "in step with each other" with our perception of the life adventure, and that is ok. I agree with you regarding communication. However, I will not go along with a theory that keeps people in a victim role
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    Mar 26 2012: Colleen,
    Thanks for your comments. I'm a bit perplexed by some of what you've said in response to my description of what I've called human 'hard-wiring.' I thought I was being clearer than I apparently was...I'll try again.

    All I mean by 'hard-wired' is is that we have neural/nervous system structures that we're born with - much like we come into being with other internal organs in place.

    I think we'd agree that we have a nervous system that includes 'wiring' that dictates how we react to pain stimuli. If I injure myself unexpectedly, that system responds reflexively and instantly, to protect me from further injury. It's an involuntary reaction.

    The basis of how we experience our emotions seems to be in our Affect System. If I'm a toddler hell-bent on exploring the world, that means my sympathetic nervous system has come 'on line.' Now that I'm a toddler I can finally move around without mom's help, and I just want to touch and taste everything I can find. I've finally mastered standing, walking, and maybe even running...

    So maybe I'm in the living room and mom's in the kitchen, I'm and I'm being drawn to something that's potentially harmful to me (as when I was curious about those little vertical slots in the wall, and started to push a wire into one to see what would happen). I'm just enjoying the following the dictates of my insatiable desire to explore everything.

    If mom suddenly realizes that things are a bit too quiet in the house, and glances into the living room just as I push the wire in, HER nervous system will cause her to react instantly to protect me. Since she's too far away to physically intervene, she yells "NO! STOP!" much louder than I'm used to hearing her. I freeze in's loud, disapproving voice has caused my PARA-sympathetic nervous system to activate automatically - all my forward motion for exploration suddenly halts. My sympathetic NS is simultaneously de-activated; my curiosity evaporates, replaced by confusion..
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      Mar 26 2012: Sandy,
      You were very clear...I simply do not agree with you. With my own experience, and the experience of working with hundreds of other people, I do not observe that the feelings of shame are "hardwired" in us as humans.

      I understand our neural/nervous system pretty well, I understand that we are born with these systems, and I am aware of scientific research that suggests that the neural pathways can and do change. So, I agree with Aneesah, that "the extent of the shame response being out of one's control, can be questioned".

      I believe we have control....I've experienced it in myself, and with many other people. I also agree with Aneesah..."the extent of my "reaction" is made up of many conditioned/learned factors, perception and thinking. This came from my background, fears, inexperience, and more".

      To say that shame is "hardwired", suggesting that it cannot be changed, and is controled by one specific theory/system/behavior, is not realistic, and I believe limits us and the exploration put forth in this discussion.
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        Mar 26 2012: Hi Colleen...
        Well... I'm once more chagrined to see that I've not been clear enough in what I've written. I'll try again. From what you've shared, I think that you and I have very similar backgrounds in the work that we've done, and I think we are in more agreement that disagreement. I'm especially distressed that you apparently believe that what I'm sharing is limiting our exploration of this topic.

        There seems to be something about my using the words "hard-wired" that puts you (and probably Aneesah) off, and makes you think I'm saying something that I'm not really saying. So I'm going to try to avoid using the "H" word. Something about the way I've written about it so far has left you with the impression that I'm saying something that I'm not.

        If I didn't believe in the capacity humans have to change, I would never have spent years working as a domestic violence therapist, a chemical dependency counselor, violence reduction specialist, or working with youth and families (my favorite). The DV work especially was often difficult, and after 15 years of doing it, I concluded that the combined efforts of everyone in that field had so far had less impact on the overall problem of DV than water has in eroding rock. The prevailing treatment model in that field is mostly punitive, i.e., shaming. Since I knew that punishment and shaming used on me had never helped me become a better person, I had to find a way to do the work that was non-punitive and non-shaming. What sustained me doing work is that I did occasionally get to see people make significant positive changes in their lives.

        I believe that humans come into the world powerfully oriented towards health and wholeness. I believe that 'everyone is always doing the best they know how' - with one caveat: 'given what they believe to be true.'

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          Mar 27 2012: Hi Sandy...

          My response to the "and probably Aneesah" - when I am uncomfortable with a word because I think it might limit us in someway, I get curious and explore my thinking, which probably holds opinions and judgements, that hold power over me. I also become aware that perhaps in another context, many might feel discouraged if they were told, "we are hard-wired for shame".

          Having said that, I am loving the conversation and did realize that you realized the solution lies in this somehow. You have been clear, and I have learned a lot. It is a new idea for me so I do not understand it to the extent that you do.

          Open conversation, and your perserverance has inspired me to think about this idea of "hard-wiring" and invited @Mitch SMith to share his ideas, which quite resonate with me.

          Having the word "hard-wiring" in mind, I could hardly miss the email I receive from a UCLA blog entitled "humans are hard-wired for empathy". My curiosity was primed for this gem and I wondered if it even means the same as being hard-wired for shame. I have found that the truth often lies in the paradox.

          This led me to a google search where I found a different blog called Hardwired for Empathy. This led me to the TED talk by Rebecca Saxe: How we read each other's minds

          In it she has this gem that you will appreciate (I think it reflects what you are experiencing, my empathizing with you)

          "I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I'm not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant." by Alan Greenspan

          She also says though "how is it so easy to know other minds"?

          I hope, I really want to but cannot guarantee that what I heard is what you meant.

          So, I am thinking, your effort made a difference :-)
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          Mar 27 2012: Sandy,
          Again, I feel you have been very clear with what you have written, some of which I agree with, and some of which I do not agree with. You don't need to be "distressed" because we do not agree Sandy...I agree to disagree:>)

          If you have a practice and theory that works well for you, so be it. Your theory that one can never fully "recover" from shame is not consistant with anything I have ever learned, taught or experienced in the years I've been dealing with this issue. And yes, for me, it limits the exploration. Where can one go from the belief that we can never recover?

          I totally agree with you that "... humans come into the world powerfully oriented towards health and wholeness", which is why I believe we have the ability to move through challenges. I respect and admire the work you have done for the betterment of our world:>)
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        Mar 26 2012: I've observed that when people (myself included) are caught up in destructive behaviors toward themselves and others, it's because they hold deeply negative beliefs about who they are. Those beliefs limit their ability to change in the direction of greater health and wholeness.

        I do believe that there are multiple causes for the origin - and tenacity - of those negative beliefs. I do think that shame is a significant factor in all of those causes that often goes unrecognized. And that even when recognized as a factor, is often not understood fully enough or responded to adequately enough to support relieving it sufficiently. I think it's really important that we're having this discussion to explore the causes, in this forum, and in the larger world. I think we're in serious trouble on this planet because of the actions taken by people who believe they need to do violence to others to protect themselves. I believe that the violence has it's origins in shame, and then produces even more shame, keeping the whole tragic cycle going.

        I share these things in an attempt to clarify where I'm coming from - what some of my deepest beliefs are. I am quite open to having my beliefs questioned, and that has often resulted in me changing them. Please accept my word that I'm not trying to limit the conversation in any way.
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        Mar 27 2012: Hi Colleen,

        With regards to "wiring". There was a talk recently
        This talk is ground-shaking.
        It is from this that I got my "proxy" hypothesis.
        Damasio maps the absolute self reference as the part of the mid-brain that does all the essential body regulation - it is the switchboard for maintaining the static internal environment required for the organism to remain alive.
        It is against this static referrence that self and consciuosness arises. All activities in the brain keep referring back to it - i.e. the mid-brain self is where everything begins.
        In regar to shame and guilt - there will be regulatators within the proto-self that connect to the flight/startle/fight respoinses that require deviation from the absolute static midpoint of the body - cortisol and adrenalin shift blood flow, heart rate, hyper-attention etc. These produce a body state that cannot be sustained for effective internal health.
        My hypothesis deviates a little from Damasio's in just one aspect:
        That with social animals, we create "proxies" to track others in our social group. These proxies are copies of the proto-self. It is quite likely that we create an intermediate proxy self to connect the proto-self with teh "Other" proxies. And that all these proxies, being modelled on teh proto-self, will also have some connection to the regulatory "switchboard".
        Now, with this model in place - a great number of proxies builds up to model ourselves and our fellows. It is against this map that we conduct forecasts - running the proxies through simulations and calculating outcomes.
        If any of these forecast outcomes indicates fight/startle/flight, it will have a connection(direct or indirect) to the midbrain triggers for "fear" shift in the body environment. If the forecast results in a perceived threat to proxy self, then we will get "trepidation", if the forecast of threat occurs in a "other" proxy, "symapthy" is triggered
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          Mar 27 2012: Hi Mitch!
          Thanks for pointing me to this resource! I hold Antonio D'Amasio in pretty high regard - his "The Feeling of What Happens" is a classic, IMHO. I didn't realize he's done a TED Talk - I'll be all over that when I come back down the mountain...
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          Mar 27 2012: Thanks Mitch. Didn't realize D'Amasio did a ted talk either. Has any of the other guys done one that you know of? Demeree or Everhart etc? Just wondering... (My research area is affect)
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          Mar 27 2012: Thanks Mitch,
          I am aware of most of this information, and reminders never hurt:>) I admitt that my experience is more in dealing with people, observations of behaviors, practices, patterns and habits, outcomes, etc., rather than with theories and analysis of the brain:>)
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        Mar 27 2012: HAving that model in place, we can then ask - what are the factors that might lead to the fear response being triggered?
        My hypothesis includes a number of parameters that are connected to each proxy-self. Mostly I have been examining the role of "noise" or error that is tracked against each proxy - it translates to "trust" .. but with this discussion, I am also seeing that ther is another important parrameter = "threat". These are parameters - they will have a specific loading to govern them. THat loading wil be subject to change.
        It is interesting that forecasting does not just forecast - it also tracks error in order to self-correct and yield more accurate forecasts.
        Part of what is forecast will be threat.
        That might be subdivided into "threat from" and "threat to".
        So where then is shame and guilt stored?
        I propose that shame is stored against the first self-proxy.
        To begin with, it could be an inaccurate loading of percieved error (self-distrust).
        But it might also be a loading of "threat to" other (sympathy for victim).
        Guilt might be stored against the "other" proxies - as "threat from", but may be amplified by percieved trust (error) applied to that "other" proxy.

        I might add, that the creation of these proxies is for 2 purposes: 1. communication, and 2. threat/benefit evaluation. Both of these are Darwinian selectors. But the "other" proxy is only present in social animals.

        It could very well be that shame is entirely mapped to "self trust" and guilt is entirely mapped to "threat - both from and to. It is clear that there are more self-proxies than the first self proxy .. not sure what governs the creation of alternate selves. Perhaps they are accumulators for different social groupings .. perhaps something more subtle.
        I will think more about this.

        Oh .. and to clarify the model a little more, each trust or threat loading will be attached to a "belief/knowledge" stored in memory.
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        Mar 27 2012: @Linda.
        I have a small advantage - I've been working on neural networks in the theoretcal sense for a long long time. And I was there at the outset of the computer tech revolution.
        I have never had anything to prove. But if proof is required .. it's there. I have no time for opinion. Never needed to get paid, and in this world that worships money above all things .. well . you are invisible .. you can't know anything till you get over that. What is money? It is advantage. ANd only the destroyed and hateful want any more than just keeps them alive after they are already dead - and they make themselves so transparent .. and all their power vanishes. Then you can walk the world like a giant that cannot be stopped. Your eyes open where others are blind . and then you feel love and you try not to hurt them. And then you understand how small you actually are. It can be no other way.
        Research you own self - all answrs are there. Others only look from outside and reflect what you already know. And then .. all that is left is to stop lying to yourself .. no one is actually fooled.
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          Mar 27 2012: Been there, done that, am so over it. Gained a lot of insight and realized that nobody, including myself, even cared. It just didn't matter/
          Working on something called a legacy now.
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        Mar 27 2012: @Colleen,
        There is more than the self and the others. But it's nice to have a rough map.
        It gets us some of the way, and beyond that the cartographer has penned "here be monsters".
        Unfortunately, it's the monsters that we actually want to defeat.
        There is more than the brain .. and there is more that happens beyond our skins that we barely know, let alone understand.
        With vulnerability .. that's where we step beyond the maps, take in a great big refreshing breath of air - let the anticipation and exhilaration of life shoot through us like electricity - and just step off the page.
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          Mar 27 2012: I agree Mitch...there is more than the brain, and there is more that happens beyond our skins. Vulnerability is a strength, in my perception, and it is often the state of being in which we can, as you say..."let the anticipation and exhilaration of life shoot through us like electricity..."
          Well said Mitch:>)
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        Mar 28 2012: YEs. Problem is that so many words have active and passive senses that are not indicatied in the syntax. Vulnerability, for instance can be taken as the "stepping off the page" .. and you can only do that if you feel confident of surviving that first fall. All first steps are wrong by definition - it is by learning the error of the first step that we recover and correct. THis is what the old maxim is "dare to fail". It is also the "Fool" in teh tarot. The fool is the only card that moves, the rest are signposts.
        THe passive vulnerability is being exposed to attack. If you stand still and not step out, the attacks keep coming and the confidence required to step out gets walled-away behind mountains of pain - there is no stepping out from that place.
        It is a great sadness to me to observe so many posters here arguing for the primacy of their fear and risk aversion. All afraid of what might be done to them and what damage they are going to cause if they step out of line(guilt)_ and how inadequate they feel as they measure themselves against the unknown (shame).
        Always, always always at the root of this fear will be a set of memories proving the primacy of feear - and they are all lies and half-truths amplified by memories of pain - life is actually much nicer than anyone will let themselves believe. There is far more light than there is darkness.
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          Mar 28 2012: Mitch,
          How is it helpful to try to analyze others?

          You write..."It is a great sadness to me to observe so many posters here arguing for the primacy of their fear and risk aversion. All afraid of what might be done to them and what damage they are going to cause if they step out of line(guilt)_ and how inadequate they feel as they measure themselves against the unknown (shame)."

          When a person talks about "them", "they", "their", it simply shows me what is in the authors heart, because we can never really know what another person is feeling, unless that person gives us that information. You are merely speculating, based on your own beliefs.

          I totally is much nicer than we sometimes percieve, and there is far more light than darkness. We simply need to "feel" and believe that in ourselves.
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          Mar 28 2012: The only thing vulnarable is the ego.
          The only thing that thinks much of itself is the ego.
          Get rid of it and accept yourself as you are.
          Then anyone will.
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          Mar 28 2012: I agree Frans, that the ego often gets in our way. However, I don't agree that we should "get rid of it".

          As defined, the ego means: "the self esp. as contrasted with another self or the world; the one of the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory that serves as the organized conscious mediator between the person and reality esp. by functioning both in the perception of and adaptation to reality".

          In another comment, I speak of our personas/characters/archetypes, which I believe are a part of all of us. Could it be the ego, that helps organize many "parts" of us, as it states in the definition? I believe we often give "ego" a meaning other than how it is actually defined.
          The ego is a part of us for a reason. If we truly understand the function of the ego, can we use it in a productive way? I believe so.

          Frans, I agree that it is beneficial to accept ourselves as we are. We have the part of us that is called ego. Why would we not accept that part as well?
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          Mar 28 2012: Colleen. I agree with you in the way you explain yourself.
          To me however is what you call ego, the persona while I reserve the word ego only for that accumulation of thoughts one can acquire about oneself.
          All thoughts an individual ads to the persona and/or even overrules their true characteristics into a false concept as “I”.
          That ego has to be challenged and brought into real proportion to function from the heart.
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          Mar 29 2012: Frans,
          I think I understand what you are saying. If we accumulate thoughts about "I" that are not honestly beneficial to ourselves or the whole, that would be the ego out of control and overrulling our natural "self"? Perhaps it is the "false ego" we need to get rid of?

          I think/feel that everything needs to be balanced to "flow" as it is meant to do. If we use the ego as the organizer, mediator, in a way it was meant to be used, it seems like another valuable tool when used appropriately and "functioning from the heart"?
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        Mar 28 2012: @Colleen,
        Nicely put.
        THis is such a cool discussion!
        "How is it helpful to try to analyze others?"
        Because we do it moment by moment anyway.
        But what's important is to differentiate the internal proxy-others from the external physical others.
        I am not so quick to discard the proxies I keep for "they".
        The forecast we run on these proxies is noise-reducing and can become pretty darned accurate.
        That in itself is a problem because it leads to type-casting.
        WHat I was doing was alluding to the communication issueing forth from the "other" classification - and I subdivided that into a specific proxy for evaluation - the group of "they" that I refer to is not so present in this thread, but are quite obvious on Brene's Main talk thread.
        My intent was to try to get some clarification on the dynamic at work in our self-proxies - to dig away at the cause for lack-of-vulnerability and indicate a possible lever we can pull to free "them" and "Us" and "Self".
        YOu see how it pulled in the "ego" symbol.
        We both know where Franz is coming from, but what spirituality fails to deliver is consistent results. It fails because it assumes it has everything properly defined.
        I am postulating, as others have done, that this "ego" thing is grosly simplistic - it seems to refer to all the conscious self-proxies. I think I have demonstrated that there are possibly thousands of self constructs - conscious and unconscious - to put a big circle around them and call them ego is a terrible mistake. I am looking for the structure of these things. I think these structures are essentially inate - part of how our brains work. I would like to have access to teh machinery so we can fully understand the pitfalls and how to address them.
        I have proposed a possible goal for what Franz is indicating - but there needs to be some more empiracle mapping to identify how the identity can find its way out of the proxies. I have started on the proxy attachment to fear via a symbolic memory . where to from there?
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          Mar 29 2012: Mitch,
          You write...""How is it helpful to try to analyze others?"
          Because we do it moment by moment anyway".

          Maybe you do, and there are a lot of us who do NOT analyze others moment by moment. I prefer to listen to what people are telling me about him/herself, rather than try to analyze, speculate, assume, presume, etc. My experience shows me that I get a lot more information about people that way. When we analyze, speculate, etc., we are doing it based on our established feelings, thoughts, ideas, opinions and beliefs, which may be very different from the person we are trying to analyze. So, the information we get is not accurate.
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        Mar 29 2012: FOrgive me if I ramble on a bit more.
        A big problem with having this discussion is that the main reason we have proxies in the first place is to enable communication. They are specifically created to navigate metaspace, and they occur in the full-blown-identity construct, only in social animals.
        So here we are now - engaged in communication - in other words, there are ONLY proxies here.
        THey capture our focus to enable a single word to be typed, and they track each other and refine models of each other to a point where comprehension occurs.
        I assume we will put our proxy selves aside once the conversation hads yielded some outcome for the exchange. These proxies of "colleen" and "Franz" and "Sandy" (and your proxy of "mitch") will get stored along with the symbol for any value generated by the exchange. THen.. later, we will trot-out the proxies for each other if we get into conversation again - and further refine them.
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        Mar 29 2012: And again - assuming that these proxies generally refine accurately through iterated forecast/correct.
        What is it that makes them wrong sometimes?
        Here's a scenario in which local minima are guranteed to form:
        If teh forecast is widely divergent to the result, (big error detected).
        Or perhaps the iteration itself yields a big pain/fear averter.
        Is there a point at which the iterations are stopped without the error corrected?
        THis would lead to a local minima that would never be resolved - reulting in a faulty proxy in the proxy-array .. one that would skew any forecast involving it.
        THis would explain phobias .. but I suspect it goes waaay deeper than that.

        AHA! It's "discouragement".
        This it the mechanism that stops iteration without the error resolved - it prevents agency.
        And it comes from outside of us through communication.

        OK - there's the key. ALl we need now is to create some re-couragement tools. FOr instance :
        * "Dare to fail"
        what else?
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        Mar 29 2012: REgarding Analysis of others:
        What I refered to was NOT the conscious psychoanalysis of others.
        What I refer to is the proxy we keep as a token for others - and the predictive analysis that is automatically engaged upon those proxies. THis process is not necessarily conscious.
        The auto-analysis of others is absolutely essential - it is by this process that we communicate with and comprehend each other. It is also by this process that we struggle against each other. Without a predictive function, we could not possibly do benefit or damage to each other.
        THis analysis is blindingly fast .. that is the nature of neural networks.
        When dealing with a group proxy (e.g. Them) it is necessarily noisy due to averaging, and one only has an averaged signal. But that signal defines a locus of intent. One can trace the intent to motive. I grant that it will always be an aproximation .. but all our words are aproximations .. more or less.
        I am not trying to infer judgement in my conscious analysis - I am trying to understand the dynamic - in order to gain cognitive insight.
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          Mar 29 2012: Mitch,
          This is really not complicated.
          You stated...""How is it helpful to try to analyze others?"
          "Because we do it moment by moment anyway".

          I responded..."Maybe you do, and there are a lot of us who do NOT analyze others moment by moment. I prefer to listen to what people are telling me about him/herself, rather than try to analyze, speculate, assume, presume, etc. My experience shows me that I get a lot more information about people that way. When we analyze, speculate, etc., we are doing it based on our established feelings, thoughts, ideas, opinions and beliefs, which may be very different from the person we are trying to analyze. So, the information we get is not accurate.

          If you are really, honestly "trying to understand the dynamic in order to gain cognitive insight, you might try listening to what people say about him/her self. You cannot honestly understnad the dynamic or gain insight, when you are analyzing, speculatiing and presuming based on YOUR establish perceptions.
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          Mar 30 2012: Colleen
          I actually agree with Mitch on this one. For the very simple fact that people lie. A lot. Every day. So you have to wade through what they say about themselves to actually understand the person underneath. Sometimes they lie because the greater lie is unto themselves. So this is not meant as a judgement. I am just saying that if you do not cognitively analyze what they are saying, you will probably never really know them.
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          Mar 30 2012: Hi Linda,
          That's why I suggest listening carefully, and I totally agree with wading through the information. I believe we intuitively, instinctively "feel" what another person is expressing on many different levels, if we are open to that possibility. That's simply my perception and experience, and I realize that we all have different ways of communicating.
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          Mar 30 2012: Then you and Mitch are saying the same thing. You call it 'feeling' and he calls it 'cognitive analysis.' But the underlying process is the same. You cannot describe feeling without cognitive process and you cannot decipher truth without feeling. Same thing.
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          Mar 30 2012: I don't agree with the idea of "psychoanalysis" of others because this suggests to me that we are trying to put that person in a "role" of our creating, and trying to "fix" them.

          Mitch states:
          "What I refered to was NOT the conscious psychoanalysis of others".
          With this statement, Mitch says he is not suggesting psychoanalysis.

          He also states:..."The auto-analysis of others is absolutely essential - it is by this process that we communicate with and comprehend each other. It is also by this process that we struggle against each other".

          "It is by this process that we struggle against each other".
          If we "struggle against each other" with our communication, this suggests to me that we are trying to psychoanalysis, and/or "fix" the other person, rather than simply listen without judgment.

          Mitch's statement..."Without a predictive function, we could not possibly do benefit or damage to each other".
          So, he is saying that we need a "predictive function", and that is where it seems, for me, a difference between analysis and feeling.

          Analysis gererally has a predictive function. Listening and feeling, and being open to the information someone is giving us does my perception.
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          Mar 30 2012: I would like to offer an example of analysis with predictive function, and listening, feeling and being open to information.

          When my home was a safe house for women fleeing abuse/violence, I was also volunteering at the women/childrens shelter and family center. In dealing with hundreds of victims, many of the stories were very similar, and it would have been easy to believe there was a predictive function with all the victims. This would have prevented me from being totally present with each and every person. Being open to new information, regardless of what I felt/thought was predictable, allowed me to honestly connect with each and every person.

          Same thing happened when I volunteered for years with the dept. of corrections. Those stories were often very similar as well. I did not choose to analyze, or bring into the interaction, the idea of a predictive function, because, in my perception, that prevents me from actually listening and being present with the person I am interacting with.

          Do you see how these practices may be different?
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          Apr 2 2012: Was hoping that Mitch would jump in here and clarify. But what I think he was saying is that we process information of the 'other' and figure out how to store it in our brains. I think he uses the word proxy which makes sense coming from someone in the computer industry. The analysis is simply processing and storing the information.

          The struggle against each other is talking about distinguishing ourselves from others and also others from others and how our brains do that. It is a brain function that happens outside of conscious. Its actually a cool process to study. The analysis you are thinking of has an intentional processing that i don't think he meant.

          I still think you are talking about the same thing. But I could be wrong because I am not Mitch.

          I also do not understand why you are against the psychoanalysis of others. It is a well documented therapeutic technique. You have to be trained in the method in order to do it and I am not sure many people know how. Typically someone struggling with a psychogenic problem seeks out this type of assistance. So I am confused by your comment. The intent of psychoanalysis is to help people address those problems. I don't understand why you would be against that.
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          Apr 2 2012: Linda,
          I am not "against the psychoanalysis of others". I agree that it is a therapeutic technique that is valuable at times when done by a person who is trained in the process. I do not agree that it is a good method to use with each and every interaction we have with individuals.

          My question to Mitch..."How is it helpful to try to analyze others?"
          Mitch's response..."Because we do it moment by moment anyway".

          I totally agree with your statement Linda..."You have to be trained in the method in order to do it, and I am not sure many people know how. Typically someone struggling with a psychogenic problem seeks out this type of assistance. The intent of psychoanalysis is to help people address those problems".
          I totally agree Linda.

          As you say Linda, it is a valuable technique that can help people WHEN/IF the person doing the psychoanalysis knows the method.

          Mitche's statement suggests that we all do it moment by moment in interactions with each other.

          I was simply clarifying that I DO NOT do psychoanalysis with each and every interaction, and when/if we try to do that as individuals, we probably will not get accurate information because we are filtering information through our own filters which, as you probably know, is not part of the correct method.
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          Apr 2 2012: I don't think that's what he said. But feel free to interpret your way. I still think you are saying the same thing. You just keep projecting he is talking about psychoanalysis and hes not.
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          Apr 2 2012: Hi Linda,
          Perhaps we can agree to disagree:>) I'm simply reading the comments, and responding as well as I can to what I see.
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        Mar 29 2012: Hmm yes - all of that. Certainly the "listening".
        But we move in a social continuum. Others populate that continuum. We track "them". We must. It defines us socially.
        My original statement grouped a "them" as the ones who were making arguement against submitting to vulnerability:

        e.g "That vulnerability is a weakness is not myth. What the speaker said about exposing a sense vulnerability is potentially true. It is also true that vulnerability will potentially be misused by others in a position put you down. The potential is realised after exposing the possible vulnerability."

        THis theme popped up a few times in the comments.
        Ironically, it illustrated Brene's observations about the mechanism of shame.
        What these commenters do not see is that by not accepting teh vulnerability and acting courageously, they deny themselves the opportunity of meeting those attacks and overcoming them. They demonstrate their own shame of inadequacy.
        The man that Brene's quoted "my women would rather see me die on my white horse rather than see me fall off it" did not allow himself to understand that his women would also like to see him climb back on his white horse again and again - and see that falling is not so bad.
        Does that make sense?
        How is it helpful?
        Well by stepping off the page, then pausing to bring the page up to where we landed ;) a stepping-off point for others.

        (Edited to say: I appreciate your taking the effort in this discussion - I feel honoured. I know the place from which you are reaching out - I respect it deeply. In this, I am reaching out from a different place - between us we form a bridge. If it is a good bridge, others may pass over it. I think that's worth while.)
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          Mar 30 2012: Mitch,
          I ageee...we move in a social continuum...others populate that continuum. If one is busy "tracking them", we may miss our own you think? Tracking "them" does not define "us". We define ourselves in each and every moment. I suggest that if you are tracking "them" you may be missing your "self"?

          No one, as I percieve, was/is making arguement against submitting to vulnerability. YOU created that information in yourself. Vulernaility is a strength. Vulnerabilty CAN be misused by others, and that misuse simply tells us that the person who chooses to misuse, is weaker than the person who chooses to be vulnerable. We can only be "put down" if we do not know our "self".

          I agree..."the potential is realised after exposing the possible vulnerability". Well said Mitch. In my perception, the potential for STRENGTH is realised after exposing the possible vulnerability.

          This "theme", if that's what you want to call it, pops up in almost every ife experience. Mitch, my friend, how about stopping refering to "these commenters", and what "they" do not see? How about recognizing your own "stuff"?

          The only thing that makes sense to me Mitch, is to recognize my own vulnerability, insecurities, fears, frustrations, and communicate them to those who will listen. As long as we want to say it is "them", "they", "theirs", it is really very obvious that it is YOURS.
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        Mar 30 2012: YEs, they are my "ghosts".I can dispell them by simply feeling teh wind against my face. As do many of us.And yes - nothing is the answer to everything.But all our words are first to ourselves - to our ghosts, and all that is said is said between ghosts.I can stand where you are and say "come to your senses" it is simple.But it's not simple - I choose to be the lost one searching for "home".I can be home - in simply saying "come to my senses".I can hear that, and be "home" for a while., Until the siren of ghosts takes me back into the labyrinth - just as everyone else is lost.But here, I am not me. I am being seen by others and we will be ghosts together. And for them I lift up my light and say - "let's explore - we can find our way close to home!"So that when someone stands at home and shouts "it's simple - be home" they might actually hear it.And if we get close enough - there will be the bridge, and we need not snap-home and get lost agian by the elastic call of the siren ghosts .. and then we can stay home. We who are reading this story of home-coming made by Colleen and Mitch?DOes that make sense?
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          Mar 30 2012: Mitch,
          I try my best to understand what you write, and ultimately, the important thing is that it makes sense to you Mitch. Because we are all different, what makes sense to one, may not make sense to another.

          "Our duty is not to see through one another, but to see one another through"
          (Leonard Sweet)

          Does that make sense Mitch?
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        Mar 30 2012: Haya Coleeen.Your name is Celtic for maiden.But it is the Scotish version .. and Scotland made Adam Smith. And this smith is a technologist after adam - as was wlliiam my grandfather who was the leader of the masonic lodge in this presbyterian town of my home where law and lore was the definition of the people of this place all over-shrouded by the ghost of advantage dark and daedly.And all we who grew up under the shroud learned the diference between law and lore .. and the mountains around our valley screamed out their pain to us - please stop hurting we the Earth!!!And me . the little boy, not disturbing the deadly snakes and not upsetting the deadly spiders . me the little boy shouting my brother's name and realizing that it sounded exactly like crow call .. because I wanted to climb the mountain .. I DID find the peak, And found my brother there being the strong guy and showing me the great cracks in the Earth . we don't forget.
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          Mar 30 2012: 'Tis true lad, that I am grown of Irish roots. I also agree that we need to take care of the earth which sustains us.
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        Mar 30 2012: And there me .. little boy,And later - there my mother being revealed in her shame of rape.ANd there all her children - and the child of her rape revealing the rescue that my father undertook to save my mother. And his hands all covered in the blood of women.And then into the children went the hurt of the mother and the crucifiction of the father.And all you shrouded in privelige can nevver understand and you feel so confident and I see how easy I could fuck you over into hell. ANd WHY do I forbare to throw you in the pit and to get your skin as a fashionable coat?Because of the love of my mother.My victory is to look into her eyes .. very soon I must do this.And as she looks into my eyes, she will see that all her lifetime of suffering at the hands of men will be vindicated in the arms and eyes of her child - all that love she preseved will be made real, and in that moment she will die .. in perfect peace. ANd her whole life has been dedicated to that moment. She is now 84 years old. And in my eyes is her peace. NAd in saying this I am giving myself permission to let you know - I now have permission to let my mother die in peace.My father died in peace - but like a typical male, he did it all by himself - he achieved his peace, discharged all his guilt of having a penis, and in the moment he healed all his damage, he took comfort in his martydom and disconnected the oxygen bottle. ANd so we found his room .. me and my sister. And only now can i say: bless you father . bless your sacrifice and bless your solitude. You did better than any harm you could cause .. and I will take your love forward. Along with the peace you asked me to deliver to my mother.THat which you could not do. But it will not just be my mother - you, my father wroght greatly. I will heal many mothers. THe read me here. and in their sons and duaghters. they will see.
        I am humble, troubled, damaged me - healing my damaged family - and not a single one of you are higher or lower. We just are. Us.
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          Mar 30 2012: Dear Mitch,
          If this is truly your story, we share some similarities, and my heart goes out to you with love.

          I agree that not a single one of us is higher or lower. We are all on a path, which often includes a desire to heal a damaged family. Part of the healing for me, was understanding that I didn't have to continue to carry (live with) the damage, shame or guilt that was passed down from generations. I was/am aware of the need to break the cycle...starting with me as an individual.
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        Mar 30 2012: Yes, it is my story .. that's the nice easy version ;)But it's not just my story, it's the story of so many others.I totally understand the "vulnerability" that Brene' Brown promotes - it has led me to high places, and low ones too. So much life! And at other times I have cowered in fear.Just lately, the world is awash in fear.If I can help a little with some insight and some good tools, then I will be living as a human should live - with other humans .. and the other bright life around us.I make pennywhistles .. I see them as a little door to heaven, because the breath comes from the heart, and it comes out honestly with the music it makes.I think I have acheived much lately with the assistance of the good people of TED.Now I wil have to back off a bit - I have a festival next week, and whisltes need to be made.I thouroughly recommend people attend a good traditional music festival - having so many honest people together is massively uplifting. One gets a glimpse of how good society can become - a homecoming surrounded by people who have come home.
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          Mar 30 2012: I understand Mitch, that it is not just your story. It is the story of many, which is why shame and guilt sometimes become generational. As I've said on this thread, I volunteered for years in the woman/childrens shelter, family center, prison and I was an advocate/reviewer for SRS (agency which oversees children in state custody). I heard the same story many times, expressed by the same family members over and over again. Then, there is also my story, which paralells the others as well. There are a lot of wounded people in our world Mitch...I know you know that.

          I agree...pennywhistles are a "little door to heaven". I have friends who are Celtic musicians, and of course, their band includes the beautiful pennywhistle:>) Have fun with the production of pennywhistles this week, and enjoy your creations at the festival. I agree...we all need to come home.

          That reminds me of a good book I read years ago and touch base with every once in awhile...
          "Coming Home - the return to true self" by Martia Nelson
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        Mar 30 2012: @Colleen and Linda,
        It's just occured to me that paople don't truly comprehend what forecasting is. Forgive me, I spent 16 years working with corporations on market forecasts. It was all done with mathematics and statistics and there were many methods including neural networks.The neural network does not behave like a computer - it does not do step-by-step calculations - it simply learns to recognise. YOu could read Minski's work - he has a talk here. Minski is a "topologist" - a brilliant one. The way NN works is like creating a landscape - the analogy is that if you place a ball on different parts of the landscape it will roll to a different end-point .. or like rivers where a single drop of water will find it's way to a river and then to the ocean. Neural networks are blindingly fast - the input becomes the outcome in a single step .. maybe a couple, but neurons are damn quick.
        Neural forecasts are not conscious - they are the same as saying "I know" and they are based on training to a great extent - this is the primary "plasticity" of the brain (there are several types of plasticity).
        THese are teh kind of forecasts that I say are applied to "proxies" - and they are exactly the ones that are engaged when we "listen" and when we get a hunch or gut-feeling.
        Now if we consciously run a scenario by painstakingly gather information then put the information through some intellectual/scientific rule-set, that is psychoanalysis - it is slow and it is very coarse .. its only use is to prevent leaving the ballpark or succumb to delusory assumptions (posessed by demons etc).
        I offer my proxy model as a way to escape the generalist rulesets and deal with the actual wiring.
        I propose that the basic proxy is only concerned with evaluating things that result in a change to body regulators. "Trust" is one of these becasue it deals with physical and meta "noise" and error. Then there are responsive outcomes - threat, benefit, sex. On that basis the proxy can grow with experience
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          Mar 30 2012: Mitch,
          I agree that the neural network "learns to recognize". I also agree that the way NN works can be very fast. That is EXACTLY why I believe the neural network can be reprogrammed. I believe that neural forecasts CAN be conscious BECAUSE they are "based on training", as you insightfully say. I am a living, breathing, walking example of that!

          My brain was so damaged, I was not expected to live. When I lived, I was not expected to ever function. Well, here I am...talking with you my friend, about neural huh?
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        Mar 30 2012: WEll, there's simple synaptic training - that is the fast plasticity.
        Then there's axon growth - that's a bit slower.
        Then there's neuron growth .. from stem-cells I suppose. Slower yet.
        Then there's myelinization - this hard-wires synaptic connections that rarely change.
        Retraining a myelinized pathway is difficult - entrenched behaviours are problematic.

        But it's the sheer speed of neural nets that escapes direct consciousness . in a way it IS consciousness .. it is also "mind" and it is also "soul" and it is too simple for people to comprehend - massive belief systems are challenged by this.I have made 4 attempts to post a discussion thread to examine the "god" proxy. I belive it has an essential function, and I want to explore that. But the moderators recognise how explosive such an idea would be and keep taking the thread down. But I have adapted to the moderators through iterating my "moderator" proxy - observing error and reducing it - and will outflank them. Usually these kind of iterations are done face-to-face and procede in instants, but the text world is a bit slower - we get to see the "entrails".
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          Mar 31 2012: What does all that have to do with the topic question Mitch?
          "Vulnerability is a risky business, mostly met by shame. How does one confront shame productively?"
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          Mar 31 2012: I tend to disagree that synaptic training fast plasticity. Reflex is fast plasticity. Just saying...I disagree with a couple more issues but am more than a little tired. Another day perhaps. For instance, retraining a myelinzed pathway is not difficult if you use the correct training technique designed to not only establish new pathways, but destroy the old.
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        Mar 31 2012: Because the "god" proxy is all about re-setting shame and guilt. Specially the "Jesus machine".
        What I haven't mentioned so far is the "sure-fail" and how we should not get stopped by it. But I did not want to reinforce those who are already parylised.
        In examining the very basic simplicity of proxies, we identify the parameters of them - and gain access to self adjustment.
        In this conversation, I have been following a road..
        To begin with, I was concentrating on error, its correction mechanism, and how it can get stuck. But, even though insightful for shame(self error/trust - connecting to body fear), it does not properly identify guilt. THe model needs some brain scans to identify where these proxies are stored - to find the absolute connections between them and body regulators. Stuff that goes into the endocrine systems. Perhaps guilt connects to body fear, but perhaps it connects to pain as well .. maybe both shame and fear connect to these things, but in different measure - certainly, shame can be fed by guilt .. but guilt is accessable to adaptation, shame is not.
        By identifying he "parameters" we can address the dynamics of them.
        I have to point out that both shame and guilt occur exclusively in the communicational functions it is all based on our agency on other humans - it is language based (not just words, but the whole causal continuum of social function). It MUST all resolve to Darwinian selectors - and those selectors will be absolutely focused on median body function plus sexual function.
        THe physical and the symbolic interact between perception and agency - everything in-between is at the service of these functions. All shame and guilt are "dampers" of agency - they are absolutely defined by the meta-space of human agency. Human agency is successful through the enhancement of perception - one gains the benefit of the senses of all (minus noise and error). It is the "proxies' that allow all this to happen. By understanding them we can optimise them.
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          Mar 31 2012: Mitch,
          I believe EVERYTHING is interconnected. If you want to make your theory understandable and/or acceptable, it would be helpful to provide practical applications. Honestly, what I see above is a lot of words.

          My dear Mitch,
          Did you think that comment was so good you had to post it twice???
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        Mar 31 2012: BTW - I already know where to find teh proxy network - it will be the big connections issueing from the brain area that stores faces - just track the myellinized axons (these will represent faces of family and friends) where these terminate will be in the proxy area.The proxy area will also reference the language centres - they will be loaded with inflection modifiers specific to the proxy.THe proxy area will be made-up of pairs - self/other.This can be identified by scanning teh subject while they contemplate specific persons - both passively and actively. The passive test (e.g viewing a photograph) will identify the "other" part of the pair, the active (conducting a live conversation) will identify the pair - subtract the passive from the active = self.I predict that when the plural proxies are tested, we will find them to be general - that there will be "other" definitions that can be loaded into un-differentiated proxies and discarded/.re-loeaded with different "other" definitions. This infers a "programable" function to allow synaptic patterns to be transeferred from memory - the mechanism for that will reveal how some of the unidentified neurons operate. We will see sub-connectives that attach to synapses indep[endant of the effector/receptor with attachment to re-programable neuron structures - some will have the extra synaptic connection, some will not .. there will be wires.I will suggest that Desmond Morris nailed it with his suggestion that we can cope with no more than 200 proxies (others) .. and that there is another class of "other" to cope with more. From there, we will gain access to "attitude" because the memory grouping will contain learned structures (each with error - and some error that is unresolved .. perhaps myelinized). This will reveal the phenomenon of "they" and I suggest it will conform to a Darwinian group-selective function (tribalism).
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          Mar 31 2012: Sorry Mitch,
          Your comments are just making me tired...see ya!
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        Mar 31 2012: YEp - it is intense stuff.PLease forgive my running-ahead. I find it exhilarating :)YOu see, when you allow vulnerability, some of the constraints fall away.WHat I have said is very compressed and assumes a lot of concepts that are not easily learned.A neurologist or topologist would be able to read it first go, others will need to gain the conceptual basis. I just needed to dump at my natural level - the text records my process of insight (active) - at the risk of looking like a raving loony, I get the opportunity to record it and cement my understanding in teh process. It does not reveal how I got there(history/passive). .. unless you research it. It is all contained in TED talks .. plus a little background on neural networks.I will have a look at practical outcomes to help clarify . but I'm tired also - later :)
        (Edit PS (before I forget it ... a neural network can only function in feedback loops .. it is adaptive purpose. But it is very interesting that noise has a pivotal function in how all that works. By nature, neural nets are noise-reducing .. conversely, they require a noise function to eliminate local minima. One has to absolutely understand what a local minimum is. This is pivotal. WIthout understanding the local minima, one cannot understand the importance of noise. THere is such a beutiful balance in that.
        Interconnected? yes, but at levels .. once again .. noise - understanding noise allowed me to rehabilitate a snapped ligament in my knee .. it's all connected, and it's all simple.)
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        Mar 31 2012: Hey ye,
        Hey YE!!
        allow me to bring this little levity!
        This is the story of great great aunt Bertie! A legend old and true!
        Here lies a story of shame and guilt, of vulnerability and the absolute sparkling JOY of being ALIVE!!

        Come close and harken closely as I relate ;)

        It happened on the day when great great uncle Jimmy went on his way home from the steelworks, past the one of 30 pubs in the town - and observed how all his friends were in there again spending all they earned on ale and song!
        ANd so in he went.
        Because he loves his fellows and he loved how the songs make him feel so good:
        "Do do let me go me giiiiiirrrlllss! Do do let me go! Harah! me yella girls! Do DO let me Goooooo!"
        A fetler coming home from his job shovelling coal into the furnace - glad to no longer be working on the rail, and so he sang and so he drank and so he felt the work song of girls and binding sails to the swell of the ocean and all them men, lifting pints to their lips and singing the song of the sea 100 miles away .. remembered how they once sailed for the company into the spice-islands like gods.

        And so he staggered home still singing and fell onto the bed - upon which his snores could wake the dead.

        Now great aunt Bertie was so sick of Jimmy coming home so useless, went out in the yard and gathered the clothes rope and a plank off the fence.

        She tied helpless Jimmy around and around the bed and whacked him up and down and up and down again with the plank with all her force of rage!

        THen she tied the clothes rope back up and put the plank back on the fence.

        Then in the morning - up Jimmy rises and goes down for his cup of tea and says to great Aunt Bertie:
        "Be Jaysus!!!! I musta had such a good night last night!!! I'm black and blue all over!!!""

        Do Do let me go me girrrrlllss!!!, Do do let me go!!!HUrraaahhh! Me yella girls!!Do DO let me go!!"

        And to this day, this song of the sea calls us back to the swell .. and to the girls.And we still all know how to sing it ;
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        Mar 31 2012: @LindaYour disagreement is welcome!It is by disagreement that knowledge is refined."Reflex is fast plasticity" - Can you explain more about reflex? My main focus has been on synaptic systems and how they are "self organising". WHat are teh dynamics of "reflex"? and:"retraining a myelinzed pathway is not difficult if you use the correct training technique designed to not only establish new pathways, but destroy the old."Can you direct me to some good research on this?This is very cogent to me - my wife has multiple sclerosis. (a disease caused by de-myelinisation). We read as much as possible, but often insights can come from "outside the box".
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        Apr 1 2012: You know what I love about my wife?I found her on a computer board as I was easing myself into the internet experience.At first-read, I detected. not so much a person but a curve. And it was love at first sight between her and me.And when I first physically saw her - there was the curve - in every shape of her body and in her breath and in her words.And in the way she ran away . back to her abusive boyfriend - she does not know I saw her runing as I drove my car away from our first physical meting and watched her run through the urban landscape like a wild creature.At first I kissed her like an unworthy man . begging myself to get between her legs and deliver her a lifetime of pinacle orgasms . I had done that for many women .. none of whose curves fitted against me. Not like her.ANd so I planned and plotted - an absolute hero in a sea of the subservient and won her with weapons far beyond what any simple male human could withstand. I won her through strategy and tactics and it was all in vein as she chose me through a single kiss. THat kiss gave me permissin to defeat all the males who wanted her . and I defeated them in one sentence - "she will regret" and so they ran away.But when she went back to remove all that her suitors and I removed from her old nest.. Her ex-lover captured her and mated .. and I knew .. and at last she relented and confessed - and I forgave her. Out of honour - she is what she is, I am what I am. THere is no fiction. And so we covered ourselves in paint and made love on white paper that we cut up and she made a video of the frames we made .. with love and bodies.And she is bipolar and she has multiple scerosis and our son is autistic .. brain damaged from the improper use of an ultrasound wand . yet he has his curve, and yet his heart is big and shining and yet I was lead by these who I love into far greater love.I am so lucky.I can talk and talk. few can hear. ANd i don't really care - I must talk .. because that is my curve
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          Apr 1 2012: Mitch

          You should really try out for those TED auditions as the role of the support team and the trials they face
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        Apr 1 2012: @Ken,
        It's tempting. TED has revolutionised my world-view. Many themes I have explored through books and experience and conversation have accellerated to understanding I never thought possible.
        Gaining access to the world's leading thinkers as they deliver their value freely - translated into plain english .. this is an outstanding breakthrough - a gift of vital value .. so necessary at this time.
        THen to have the privelige of discussing the value with others and participate in our mutual enlightenment .. the value seems endless!
        You have commented on my ill-fated topic posts, but I was unable to read your comments as they got taken down. And you are not available on a TED community search - there are 2 other Ken browns, and they have little or no posting history. Are you a moderator?
        I am very well aware of the trials of support roles. I put a lot of work into technical support for amature theatre, and helped my wife form a young-mothers' online support forum .. I have an idea of the challenges.
        WHat support role would you suggest?
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          Apr 2 2012: No bud

          I'm not a moderator or would have the presence of mind that would qualify me to be elected and i would turn it down as in some things i'm intractable therefore making me biased though i will play devils advocate if i feel that people are unfairly ganging up on someone.

          A suggestion?

          That would be leading rather than helping though you're involvement with amateur theatre and helping your wife setting up that forum,your tenacity with the knowledge you have acquired with the human brain,That's impressive.

          A suggestion?

          Ask your wife,she'll know.
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        Apr 2 2012: @Ken - yes - she knows. SHe was the one going through impossible hardship and challenge - she was the one who had victory. I was just a representative of humanity learning to understand her .. helping her have the spavce she needed.. a process of getting out of her way. Same for my son .. took a while in botyh cases .. how to learn to let be and forget all the rubbish I was taught as a child. So much rubbish.
        For me, I am lucky because I love people. I have no idea how I can, I suppose because my mother is so loving without condition.
        ]I'[d like to know more about you Ken - you seem to be very perceptive. I can be contacted via my profile if you think it worthwhile.
        @LInda - thank you for understanding. Yes, I am talking about different levels of "forecast" and operation. We have a broad cognitive "field" in which we do thins "stepwise" we create "heuristic" methods that conform with repeatable, observable proofs.. Say I was like Colleen working to heal the traumatised - the womens' shelters and the prisons, and say I saw a pattern of events .. I could write them down as science and provide a checklist to help other healers. But it would never do more than put big general circles around something that must be acquited face to face with a real person using real empathy. THat real person would be there - using teh automatic proxies and fine-tuning comprehension .. as people do. This is empathy - it is tuning our proxies to each other until the bridge is made. Once they are tuned, our body reflexes respond as if we were that other person. We feel it.
        THe computer model is very different to a brain. A computer is heuristic, it is step-wise, and we mistake it for our bookish understanding because computers are fast .. but they are not brains. And brains are not just brains either - the whole body is a unit .. and bodies are not just bodies, they are part of the environment - and we are not numbers .. numbers are just tools, and they cannot know what is in between numbers
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        Apr 2 2012: @Colleen and LInda,

        I think we are all saying the same kind of things .. but our backgrounds insist on slightly different definitions of words.
        THat it is not productive to psychoanylise others is probably right - specially if it is unsolicited and specifically if one is not in posession of the heuristcs (science).
        My original state ment that sparked all this was to say the word "they" and offer an observation about that "they".
        THe "they" I referred to identified themselves - by argueing against vulnerability .. my observation was that "they" demonstrated the process by which we shy-away from vulnerability and in-fill our paralysis with justifications of fear. THis is not so much psychoanalysis as just plain logic. Before I even submitted that to words, I felt their fear .. a little "twang" of "ouch" . I could feel it becasue it is the very thing that Brene' spoke of - the pain/fear underlying guilt and shame, From the standpoint of someone who regularly submits to vunerability .. this gives me the feeling of tragedy .. and I would like to help "them" overcome their paralysis.
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    Mar 26 2012: Hi David. Shame can begin as an external or an internal event. Can you say more about what you mean by "the approach would be different?" Not sure I understand what you're getting at, and I'm curious.
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      Mar 26 2012: @ Sandy, @David

      For some reason, David's comment is not visible to me. I did get a notification but it shows up blank.
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        Mar 26 2012: Sandy and Aneesah,
        I saw David's short comment, then it disappeared.

        Perhaps David was refering to why and how the shame evolves? If, for example, a person was relatively secure in him/her self, and someone started regularly bullying that person to the point of causing him/her to feel less secure, it would be important to understand the dynamic of how and why the victim of bullying took on the shame?

        I've experienced this, so let me offer my story.
        As I've revealed on this thread, I experienced some shame because of a violent abusive father.
        By the time I married, I had figured some things out, and decided to change some of my perception about myself. So, going into the marriage, I felt relatively empowered in "knowing" myself, and some of the underlying feelings.

        I married a man, who was in some respects like my father. Although he was not physically abusive, he was emotionally/verbally abusive. I didn't even recognize it as abuse for quite awhile because it was far less traumatic than my father's abuse.

        It took 10 years of telling me I was worthless, useless...etc. etc. before I felt disempowered again. I didn't recognize the depth of those feelings, so while I felt like I had dealt with the underlying "stuff", it was still there in my heart and mind, and with reinforcement, impacted my life experience again.

        Was my feeling of disempowerment the second time, caused by my previous internal feelings? Was it caused by the new external reinforcement? Probably both.

        If a person had never experienced shame/bullying, we might believe that it is the "new" external experience that is causing the feelings of disempowerment? Everyone is different, so to understand the dynamics, one has to explore their own individual experience either by him/her self, or with assistance.

        With my father's behavior, my feelings were prompted by external stimuli, and I accepted the shame internally. When we are secure/empowered in ourselves, NO ONE can cause us to feel less secure.
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          Mar 26 2012: Thanks Colleen.

          We seem to be living in parallel universes. My childhood does seem to resemble yours. I married young, at 18, a marriage that lasted 10 years. Let's say it was not one that recognized any of my "greatness" and unfortunately one in which my self-worth declined over that period. One day, I returned home to find my 3 year old son had been beaten. The next day I was out... the cycle was not going to repeat itself.

          I found a strength, that nothing I had been through, could destroy. I found a great new job, new home, and much more... all on my own, as a single mom. What inner power within me gave me this resolve and power... or reminded me of who I was?

          This has given me an incredible passion to do everything I can to continue to empower myself and others, and confronting bullying is my top priority.

          I too try to understand the dynamics of my choices so I can continue to choose better and be in a better position to help others.
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        Mar 26 2012: Yes, Aneesah,
        We seem to have shared some similar experiences. Now it is time to recognize our "greatness". :>)

        Part of my motivation for change was similar to yours....I was not going to repeat cycles from my past. With each step toward change, my resolve strengthened. As I learn more about myself and others who experienced similar circumstances, it continues to strengthen my resolve to tell my story.

        A big part of the feeling of shame is isolation, and when I tell my story, it is not for the purpose of saying look at me...see what I have done, It is for the purpose of letting others know that I took some steps to change cycles, and they can too. When we know there are others who have experienced similar situations, feelings, thoughts, it sometimes lets us know that we are not alone, and for me, it gave me strength to move forward.

        In my perception, bullying, at many different levels, is the dynamic behind almost all abuse, violation of rights and shame in our world. Those who bully and violate others are insecure individuals, and they often try to bring others to their own level of insecurity. When we have this information, it sometimes helps us re-evaluate ourselves in a different way....yes?
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    Mar 25 2012: Hi Aneesah - I hope this is what you meant about needing to make a 'new comment' (I'm not sure why some of the posts have a 'reply' link while others don't). I hope this keeps the thread that you and I and Coleen are on connected, as I appreciate both of your comments.

    I'm glad to hear that you found my explanation of Affect understandable. My use of the term 'Affect' comes from studying a little-known but very important body of work by psychologist Silvan Tomkins, who created Affect Theory.

    I doubt you've ever heard of him, though you may have come across the names of Gershen Kaufman ("Shame: The Power of Caring") or Donald Nathanson ("Shame & Pride: Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self"). Both Kaufman and Nathanson have developed Tomkins' work further and made it easier to comprehend and I recommend them highly, as their writings have helped me quite a bit.

    In fact, Gershen's book truly changed my life, and I wrote the first Amazon review of it back in 1999. Sadly, the fact that all these years later only two other reviews have been added to mine only affirms how little his ground-breaking work is known.

    I'm so glad for each of your of comments!

    Aneesah, I've never thought about how Mythology fits into this but am grateful that you've mentioned it - it triggers another Basic Affect in me, that of 'Interest --- Excitement' and ignites my curiosity to explore the subject further...

    I agree that the immediate hope for solutions comes from understanding that which we have some influence over. Both you and Coleen have pointed that out.

    Among the solutions I would offer for escaping the burden that un-metabolized negative feelings (ESPECIALLY shame in all of it's many manifestations) of all kinds impose on our lives are:

    Being willing to tolerate the confusion and uncertainty of the search for solutions, and not settling for the bromides and homilies that so much of psychological & spiritual thinking has proposed as 'answers.' (to be continued...)
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      Mar 25 2012: Hello Sandy, yes this is what I meant about starting a new comment thread. Thank you.

      I find the ideas proposed by the Affect theory very interesting. I have come across something resembling this accredited to Carl Jung. Time to catch up on my reading and thank you for the links.

      Until I know better, affects seem to have a connection to archetypes.

      My interest and connection to Mythology? inspired by the works of Joseph Campbell, an iconic mythologist who wrote Hero Of A Thousand Faces. In essence it says that every single person, regardless of origin, culture or time, is on a journey, and the journey follows a pattern, a MONOMYTH. He then uses an incredible number of myths from all over the world to show this. OUR QUEST FOR SOLUTIONS HERE, CAN BE SEEN AS A HERO'S JOURNEY

      This is an extract from Wikipedia to further spark your curiosity.

      "In laying out the monomyth, Campbell describes a number of stages or steps along this journey. The hero starts in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unusual world of strange powers and events (a call to adventure). If the hero accepts the call to enter this strange world, the hero must face tasks and trials (a road of trials), and may have to face these trials alone, or may have assistance. At its most intense, the hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help earned along the journey. If the hero survives, the hero may achieve a great gift (the goal or "boon"), which often results in the discovery of important self-knowledge. The hero must then decide whether to return with this boon (the return to the ordinary world), often facing challenges on the return journey. If the hero is successful in returning, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world (the application of the boon)."

      "Being willing to tolerate the confusion and uncertainty of the search for solutions" is part of the challenge.
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        Mar 28 2012: Aneesah,
        As I recall, Carl Jung did explore the ideas of archetypes, personas, characters of our "self", which influence our life experience. I believe Joseph Campbell also addressed this theory.

        I firmly believe that we do, indeed have various personas/characters as part of our "self", which may influence the guilt/shame/vulnerability issue if we are not aware of them.

        I had the opportunity, with a 10 year acting career, to explore many of my various personas, in the roles of different characters. How does it feel to be a theif? A hooker? A nun?

        The way I feel this concept plays into the guilt/shame/vulnerabily scenario, is that many times, these personas/characters/archetypes manifest in our mind. If we are not aware of this concept, and do not know all "parts" of our "self" we may not like what we see in ourselves, thereby causing guilt or shame. We may think/feel..."I'm not supposed to feel this way....I must be a bad person"....and that may take us into the feeling of guilt/shame.

        I believe we can use the information to learn compassion, empathy and understanding for ourselves and others by recognizing and accepting the information for what it is...information which offers an opportunity to learn.

        What do you think?

        I agree that we are all on a journey, which follows a pattern, and I LOVE the "Hero's Journey" story. I also agree that "being willing to tolerate the confusion and uncertainty of the search for solutions" is an important part of the challenge". I will take it another step further, and say that when we can get past the "tolerate" step, there is the possibility to LOVE all aspects of the journey, including the confusion and uncertainty:>)
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          Mar 28 2012: Love this comment of yours, colleen.
          I would propose acting to be part of general education.

          While I read your words about archetypes and acting my thoughts went to left the over's of old cultures where spirits and divine powers where personified and acted out on stage. That must have been much value for every individual to develop spiritually.

          We lost something very important I think.
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          Mar 28 2012: Hi Colleen, you certainly have a great grasp of these subjects! The acting must have given you amazing insights.

          You put it all so eloquently that I wish to highlight this:
          "I agree that we are all on a journey, which follows a pattern, and I LOVE the "Hero's Journey" story. I also agree that "being willing to tolerate the confusion and uncertainty of the search for solutions" is an important part of the challenge". I will take it another step further, and say that when we can get past the "tolerate" step, there is the possibility to LOVE all aspects of the journey, including the confusion and uncertainty:>)"

          I think if we listened to shame, we would hear that it is a call to do exactly this... take our Hero's Journey, cross the "tolerate" threshold and enter the realms of love beyond that that is just within our reach.

          One does notice when people live out and act out certain archetypal patterns. Carolyn Myss did some incredible work around this and says we all have sacred contracts, that need to be transformed. There are people who even reflect the stories of fairytales such as the ugly duckling.

          I have also read some powerful work along these lines "Metaphors We Live By", by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Much success in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) comes from transforming these metaphors into more empowering ones.

          Symbolism is an intricate part of our nature and when we become aware of how we identify with certain symbols, archetypes, and more, we can have more power in the way we make choices and navigate life.

          I suppose this overlaps with the idea that we all have a story/stories. Mindfulness and mindfulness training asks us to step out of our stories. I like to play with the idea that we can rescript our life and place our attention on telling stories of "how I made it". This practice was inspired by the work of Viktor Frankl.

          It is an area that is vast, so practical in nature that it is challenging to describe in words.
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          Mar 28 2012: Beautifully put, Colleen. It resonates with my experience. I think Frans is correct in his statement that we've lost something important...

          Thankfully, I think we can work together to bring some of that back. I love all the discussions that sprouted from Brene Brown's reintroducing the topic of shame. Even the frustration and dismay I've sometimes felt when it seemed my words weren't being taken the way I intended them, it's a chance to learn and grow.

          If I might address this part of your post, you said:

          The way I feel this concept plays into the guilt/shame/vulnerabily scenario, is that many times, these personas/characters/archetypes manifest in our mind. If we are not aware of this concept, and do not know all "parts" of our "self" we may not like what we see in ourselves, thereby causing guilt or shame. We may think/feel..."I'm not supposed to feel this way....I must be a bad person"....and that may take us into the feeling of guilt/shame.

          It appears to me that we're in agreement about how shame forms. I might express it somewhat differently by suggesting that I believe most of those personas/characters/ archetypes manifest in our mind as a reaction to powerful bodily sensations that overwhelm the capacity of our developing NS/mind to process them...I think we begin to attach negative meaning to those experiences and to define ourselves

          I'm listening to a webinar as I write this, of Dr. Daniel Siegel, on the topic of "Bringing Out the Best in Kids: Strategies for Working with the Developing Mind." He has the great gift of making all the latest findings in neuroscience readily understandable...

          I'm loving having all these new tools for educating ourselves - ah, he just mentioned that he's done a TED-X talk on what it's like to be flooded with implicit memories that interfered with his ability to be present to his son, because his son's vulnerability as an infant evoked unresolved traumatic! I gotta go check that out...
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        Mar 29 2012: Frans,
        This is going to be far away from your comment I am replying to...hope you find it!

        "Frans: 1 day ago: Love this comment of yours, colleen.
        I would propose acting to be part of general education".

        It is a very good tool for education in my perception. In fact, there is a very creative teacher/acting coach who started a program locally with teens. The kids write the scripts based on issues they are facing...drug/alcohal abuse with themselves or family members, violence and abuse, bullying, teen pregnancy...whatever issues the kids want to address. They write scenes, direct and act in the scenes themselves. They took it on the road to other schools, perform their scenes, and then facilitate discussions with the student/audiences. It is a GREAT learning opportunity that has been very successful for everyone involved.
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        Mar 29 2012: reply opportunity for your comment I am replying to...

        "1 day ago: Hi Colleen, you certainly have a great grasp of these subjects! The acting must have given you amazing insights".

        Thanks Anneesah,
        Regarding a "great grasp of these subjects"...I've had a LOT of time to learn, and I do not like to pass up an opportunity:>)

        To be able to "LOVE all aspects of the journey, including the confusion and uncertainty", it was necessary to learn to be comfortable with discomfort, which isn't really that difficult. It is simply about acceptance, and when we can get out of our way to observe the reality of the situation, it simply is what it is....what's to be stressed or distressed about? That merely uses up extra energy we can use to learn, grow and evolve.

        I read Carolyn Myss' work on this topic, as well as other "stuff" she wrote, which was all very helpful. I agree that we have the ability to tramsform many things in our life experience, and many people give up that opportunity.

        Yes, "neuro-linguistic programming" is one method. Another method/practice I taught is "cognitive self change", which is similar. There are many methods & practices, which can support us in our desire to transform.

        The BIG important piece is to believe in ourselves, and believe that we CAN transform many things in our life journey when/if we are genuinely ready willing and able to wholeheartedly TAKE the journey.

        I also like to "play with the idea that we can rescript our life and place our attention on telling stories of "how I made it". YES! Rather than stay in the pain and frustration of where we've been, we focus on where we're going. This gives us strength because what we focus on my experience:>)

        I worked with a great director several times, who encouraged playing with the does it feel...what happens when we change how the line is "supposed" to be delivered? I brought this concept into all aspects of my life...I write my own script!
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          Mar 30 2012: Hi Colleen, I am loving this conversation and your incredible insights.

          To your comment:
          "I also like to "play with the idea that we can rescript our life and place our attention on telling stories of "how I made it". YES! Rather than stay in the pain and frustration of where we've been, we focus on where we're going. This gives us strength because what we focus on my experience:>)"

          I love that you use the word "play". We are all scripting our lives anyway, whether we do so consciously or not. Part of this comes from the associations we make, interpretations, thoughts, words... very much what is being explored on this page.

          The use of the word play, for me personally, refers to the attitude of being open, connected to our greatness, and much more. How would you put this in a nutshell?

          It is a powerful experience when people come together and use various tools to rescript their lives... it's also empowering to have a conversation on "how I made it".

          I read of an initiative at one of the universities where students are helped to transform their homesickness (and challenges of first year) through meeting and sharing their "pride experiences". It's a story of their challenges and what they are doing to empower themselves. The focus is on how, their choices make/ shape their experience for the better.

          Have you heard of Christopher Vogler? He is a director who wrote The Writer's Journey using the hero's journey to create scripts. I have used this very effectively to explore and focus on different parts of my script.

          An important part of scripting is that it is a generative process that helps one go with the flow. Therefore one does not over-identify with a particular point in time, instead building in an aspect of open to review and change. This is where we integrate the self-belief and wholeheartedness you pointed out.

          YES, what one focuses on does expand in one's experience!
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        Mar 29 2012: Sandy,
        This is in response to your comment which starts...
        "Beautifully put, Colleen. It resonates with my experience".

        Thank you Sandy. I'm truly glad something I say resonates with you:>)
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          Mar 30 2012: Actually, Colleen, much of what you share resonates with me! ;-)
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        Mar 30 2012: COOL!!! I LOVE it when that happens Sandy:>)
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    Mar 24 2012: Dear Aneesah
    I am compelled to ask a question...
    Do you honestly think/feel that "vulnerability is a risky business"?

    I think/feel that it is much more risky to hold onto shame, low self-esteem, lack of self confidence, and fear about living in our world, than it is to face the issues and move forward with confidence, comfort with oneself and contentment....what do you think about this?

    The reason I present this idea, is because what we focus on expands. If we promote the idea of change as "risky", it becomes more difficult for some people to embrace. How about if we start talking about this issue as a beneficial way to learn, grow, evolve and discover contentment?
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      Mar 25 2012: Hi Colleen,

      I am not sure that putting it in the way I did "vulnerability is a risky business" is the best way to phrase this. I have some thoughts about it, a little scattered at the moment.

      People who are disempowered are vulnerable to being "shamed". They can also become increasingly susceptible to being shamed.

      Then there is the vulnerability that comes from doing something different, "stepping into the arena", a lot like what we are doing here... in order to confront an issue and with a positive intention. This holds "risks", many only to the extent that we believe others have power over us, that their opinions can hurt us in some way, etc.

      Change is widely perceived as risky. Promoting a culture of creativity, innovation and change, seems to need to start confronting this perception of risk, so that one can learn that there is more at risk to not embrace this culture... a culture that says, change need not be risky.

      "risk" is a perception and an agreement. If one does not think one has something to lose, then it is no longer a risk. A lot of this perception of risk might come from earlier experiences with shame and associations that were made and accepted as truth (by the individual). It might also be that usually the contexts in which we felt shamed, were also the contexts where "others" had the power to disown us, throw us out in the streets, abuse us, fire us, ..." This is where confronting shame and self development can begin to break the cycle.

      "Vulnerability is a risky business?" Could I write it differently? Yes! I am open to this. Presented in this way, it does create an internal reaction (discomfort), because the greater part of us feels it to be "untrue". It makes us stop and confront and hopeful appreciate that the opposite is true.

      I am in absolute agreement that "How about if we start talking about this issue as a beneficial way to learn, grow, evolve and discover contentment?"
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        Mar 25 2012: Dear Aneesah,
        I agree that "risk" is a perception, and change does indeed feel "risky" at times, because as you insightfully feels like stepping into a different arena.

        I agree with Ed's comment that if "... the origin is not within ourselves ...EVERYTHING that is not of your original and TRUE Self ( capital "S" here) is not YOU,,, ". I also am aware that it may take some time and effort to get to that belief. Thankfully, I embrace this belief, so this forum is not intimidating for me. I cannot be hurt by someone's opinion of me or information I provide.

        I agree that we need to start breaking the cycle somewhere, and that "somewhere" may be different for different individuals. My own experience shows me that once I broke the cycle of believing that change is risky, it opened up a lot of new territory to explore in myself and with others.

        I'm not criticizing your choice to use the term "risky business", but rather simply addressing the question of whether or not it is actually "risky". Again, I offer the it more risky to face the issues and change? Or is it more risky to hold onto old patterns/behaviors/thoughts/feelings that are not beneficial to our life experience and growth? I think/feel it is good that you offered the idea of "risky business", otherwise we wouldn't be talking about it:>)

        One of my habits/behaviors/thoughts/feelings, is to move forward with something, rather than get "stuck" in a certain belief:>)
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          Mar 25 2012: Hi Colleen,

          I believe we are very much on the same wavelength regarding, from my point of view, most aspects of this discussion (what counts more is that we share the goal of wanting to make a difference and in an authentic way). Exploring these questions and new ones that arise, are a healthy way of being, of learning and for personal development... creating the ripples that make impact-ful changes happen.

          I did not feel that you were criticizing me, and was very pleased you raised the topic. I wanted to explore it further and this created the opportunity to begin.

          Part of the journey is to put myself voluntarily, in a position to examine my beliefs, question my assumptions and even break a few rules along the way. I look forward to much more of your thought provoking questions ;-)

          Be well
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    Mar 24 2012: I would love to explore the idea that the antidote to a culture of shame and shaming is a culture of innovation, change and creativity.

    A culture of innovation, change and creativity requires a way of thinking that embraces uncertainty, differences, paradox, is flexible, adaptable, growth oriented, appreciative ... characteristics that seem to be absent in the thinking that leads to shame and shaming.

    What are your thoughts?
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      Mar 24 2012: Yes....growth oriented.
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      Mar 25 2012: I heard this before and it seems nice and all. But what do you do with those that don't want to play this game? The other question is that nobody has ever operationailzed the concept. Nobody has said, this is how you do it. Step 1...
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        Mar 25 2012: My experience is that if we demonstrate something different...something that is more appealing...more creative....more enjoyable, many people will embrace a different way of being. I disagree that "nobody has ever operationalized the concept".

        The "tools" to bring this to light have been available for a long time. I co-facilitated "cognitive self change" sessions and other beneficial programs within the dept. of corrections for years. Many of the concepts, I also taught to victims of abuse, in empowerment workshops, and discussion groups for years. This is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination.

        One of the biggest factors in empowering ourselves and others, is to remind them/us that we have choices. I would say "step 1" is reminding disempowered people that they have choices in each and every moment. We may not have had a choice as children, when disempowerment/shame was taking place. As adults, however, we have the ability to take charge of our own life.
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          Mar 25 2012: You know, i deal with educators who tell me "I model the behavior and I don't understand why the students don't behave professionally." I don't think modeling is the answer.

          Again, you are talking one person at a time. You can develop a different culture one person at a time but in the long run, the oppressed group is still oppressed. The culture is unchanged. Nothing has changed except a couple of people feel better about themselves.

          That is not creating a culture of innovation change and creativity. You as an individual just do not have that type of influence. I have yet to see any culture of innovation creativity and change outside of the individual, therapy group, or classroom.

          I don't know how to explain the culture of oppression/oppressed except to say it is generations. So if you say I want to create a culture of innovation change and creativity, I am talking generations.
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        Mar 25 2012: Ok Linda, if you don't think modeling is part of the answer, what do you propose? I've said a couple times, we need to deal with the issue from several different angles. Modeling is one possibility.

        Yes, I may be talking "one person at a time"...many people over a period of many years....for me at least. I know I have influenced people to change their behaviors. In my humble perception, and based on feedback I get regularly... that's better than nothing....would you agree?

        I'm not going to try to convince you because you seem pretty clear with your beliefs on this topic, and that's ok.

        "The person who says it cannot be done, should not interrupt the person doing it"
        (Chinese Proverb)
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          Mar 25 2012: Colleen
          I am not trying to tell you what you are doing is not important. I need help. I deal with a culture of shame every day. Generational shame. Before I was born to after I am dead generational shame.

          Oppressed group behaviors are in my freaking office every day. This is not some type of theoretical model. I need ideas. Big big concrete ideas. I am trying to clarify so I can leverage appropriate solutions and assist those who are trying to help me be better at what they do. I thought there could be people here who could help.

          Your frustration is my frustration too.
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        Mar 25 2012: Dear Linda,
        I do not spend my time and energy with frustration. I understand that shame can be generational, and as I mention in another comment on this thread, I discovered this fact while volunteering with various social service agencies and seeing the families over and over again falling through the cracks and continuing the cycle. "Oppressed group behaviors" were in my "freaking office every day" as well, and I'm only offering ideas that I believe have worked for me and those I share my ideas with. Try not to shoot the messenger! Perhaps there are people here who could help.....or not.

        One thing I realized a long time ago, is that I am not going to change the world, so in dealing with hundreds of oppressed, shamed people, I realized I can only do my part in providing information, support and encouragment in my little tiny corner of the world. I have no illusions about changing every single person I interact with. Every once in awhile, we DO facilitate change in someone's life, and that is what I focus on. Sometimes we don't even know it is happening, so be patient with yourself my friend, and trust that you are providing encouragement and support for all those you interact with.

        After regaining consciousness from a near fatal head/brain injury years ago, I got many cards and letters, which often started with...."you probably don't remember me but 5 or 10 years ago you said or did something that changed my life". I wasn't doing anything special....simply being kind. This is when I learned about the importance of modeling behaviors, and how it can often influence people's lives, and many times, we are not aware of the influence we have. "Be" what we want to "see", and I sincerely believe it has great impact in our world.
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    Mar 24 2012: I am just more than a little confused. This thread keeps talking about shame as an individual phenomena and shame is a population based phenomena. So therefore, even if you address individual shame, if the person belongs to a culture/people who are shamed by the larger society, the shame will continue.

    Shame is the desired response from an oppressed group/population. The oppressor keeps the oppressed group within the confines of the definition by stereotype, generalizations etc. So the shame of the people is perpetuated.

    So why are we addressing shame like it's an individual's problem?
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        Mar 24 2012: I agree with you Ed. I do think it is an internal/external problem. But I still think the origin is not within ourselves. So if you address internal shame, you are only addressing the result, not the origin. It is much like treating a symptom instead of the disease itself. Don't get me wrong. If symptom management is the best we can do, so be it.
        There are many diseases that we cannot cure.

        But let's not call the symptom the disease.

        I will check into Dr. Hawkins view of the world, but I am not sure how somebody else's model is going to help here.
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          Mar 24 2012: I am glad you raised the issue. There is the act of shaming and it can be practiced on such a huge scale that it is a culture of shame (rather a culture of shaming), the origin, as you usefully propose.

          When the culture of shame becomes prevalent and even enters the media and is celebrated as in reality television, it reaches epidemic proportions.

          Coming from apartheid South Africa, I have witnessed this culture of shame. The same is true in my experience as a woman in a particular Religion.

          On a wider scale, where "different" is perceived as a threat, and gossip becomes a norm, a culture of bullying is created. This can be for a number of reasons, including because of "handicap" or sexual orientation.

          The focus on the result is "symptom management" to a certain extent. I am not inclined to call it a "symptom" or a "disease" because I see this as a form of labeling... a lot like the person who is experiencing shame feeling like "I am a mistake". It is more about helping people recover/embrace their personal power and reclaim their sense of worthiness. Shame does damage a person's self-esteem but that person is not damaged goods.

          The culture of shame is so prevalent that the most accessible way (for a start) is to confront it is on the personal level. On a greater level, people like Brene Brown who are researching it, creating awareness on a more public scale and then forums like this will gradually create a way to tackle it at the level of origin.

          Work on the one level (individual) does not exclude the confrontation that is necessary on a n greater scale. It does seem to be that the originators shame others for many reasons that can be addressed and transformed from the "internal" level.
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          Mar 24 2012: I believe that shame is both an external and internal issue, and a cycle which, in order to change, needs to be addressed on all levels. We, as individuals cannot effectively change something externally if we are not willing to explore it internally as well.

          I agree Aneesah...I have also witnessed the culture of shame, both on a personal level, and societal level, and bullying is a major part of the dynamic of shame.

          I also am not willing to call it a "disease", because although it is a dis-ease in our cultures, it is a learned behavior, rather than a disease that one has no control of.

          I agree that shame does, in fact damage a person's self-esteem, so in order to break the cycle, which may be cultural, we need to start empowering people on an individual level, as well as addressing the issue on a cultural, societal, global level.

          The culture of shame can and has reached epidemic proportions. With my volunteer work for years in women/childrens shelter, family center, SRS (agency that oversees chileren in state custudy because they have been taken from their parent....usually because of abuse), and men incarcerated (usually for domestic violence and sex crimes), I discovered the same families, in all the agencies, going through the systems and falling through the cracks over and over again. It is a cycle that needs to be broken and it needs to be addressed from many different angles.....both internally and externally.
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          Mar 24 2012: Ed,
          I totally agree with your statement..."It that simple "who you are" is LIVED in....all else is "external" relative to it....and therefore has no influence on YOU ....shaming all its configurations and forms then only remains as an empty energy-less / inactive /shell".

          This is an advanced stage of development for many people who are 'stuck" in the cycle of violence/abuse/bullying/shame/low self-esteem. That is why it is important for all of us to be compassionate with ourselves and others.

          We generally don't tell a person in crisis that it is really very has no influence on you.
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        Mar 25 2012: @ Ed. I really did not intend to call shame a symptom. It was simply an analogy. I do not think oppression is a disease. Because a disease tends to release culpability. I think oppression and oppressed groups need to be accountable for the results.
        @ Aneesha "Work on the one level (individual) does not exclude the confrontation that is necessary on a n greater scale." I am not sure how this should occur. The bigger problem is that the oppressor/oppressed relationship exists for a reason. And that reason is what needs to be addressed. It is somewhat simplistic to think we can go around and call someone an oppressor and they need to stop and play nice. Just thinking out loud...
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          Mar 25 2012: The oppressor, often was oppressed. Both the victims and the oppressor are insecure, so you're right is unrealistic to tell anyone that they "need to stop and play nice".

          First of all, we need to demonstrate what "nice" means because many times, those who are oppressed and/or oppressors, do not have the information needed to determine what being "nice" really means. Many times, they are functioning from a knee jerk/survival mode. They need to feel safe enough to possibly explore another way of "being" in this world. That is why I said in another comment, the issue needs to be addressed from many different angles.

          It is not as simple as saying do that and everything will be fine. It's not as simple as saying it is internal or external. It needs to be addressed from all angles.
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    Mar 24 2012: Through insight, sharing, and compassion you can confront and overcome shame. You must be willing to seek the reason shame occured. The desire to overcome, perservere, and resolve the issues must become part of your make up. I would think that the factors under which the shame occured are important. Some may accept and bear the shame while others meet the event and resolve it. This is a matter of courage. We naturally conceal any chinks in our armor to others because we become vulnerable to their contempt. The person hardest to appease is our own self. Once we admit and confront the issue the rest is easy. A phrase comes to mind that may apply ... A coward dies a thousand deaths and a brave man dies only once. You may feel that others see through you and onserve the shame ... thus the thousand deaths. Where as if you face the issue openly once it will be resolved. Best of luck. Bob
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      Mar 24 2012: Hello Robert

      Your first sentence does an excellent job of putting int in a nutshell. "Through insight, sharing, and compassion you can confront and overcome shame."

      "You must be willing to seek the reason shame occurred" is one of the ideas I am still exploring. One of the thoughts I have about it is that when I am engaged in the process of extracting the dynamics/patterns of "shame", I am already an "observer". This starts freeing me from the shame experience because it is already an experience of "stepping out" of it.

      Seeking "the reasons shame occurred" puts myself in a position of owning at least some thread of my personal power. This is a courageous activity, that is even more powerful when the intention is "problem resolution" and even daring to dream/hope that I will not only survive, but can thrive as well.

      Facing the issue puts one in a position to find the resolve, tools, and whatever it takes to meet the challenge.

      You say "the person hardest to appease is our own self". Yes, I think the work is largely inner work. An open communication and cultivating a more empowering connection with self, is the way that will also lead to questioning certain assumptions and perceptions that can then be shifted. One of these might lead to the realization that others opinions do not have to result in a devaluing of your own self worth. One may see that to "accept and bear the shame" is not the only option.

      For me the "gem" in your response is "The desire to overcome, persevere, and resolve the issues must become part of your make up".

      ps. I noticed and experienced great empathy in your response. Thank you
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        Mar 24 2012: Aneesah, Thank you for your response and kind words. All the best. Bob
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    Mar 23 2012: Understanding & Learning "Shame" as per brene brown is the only way to confront it. Self questions and analysis as suggested by her is given below:

    --I'm Never good enough.

    --Who do you think you are.

    --I'm sorry i am a mistake

    This self analysis technique can never help remove "The "Feeling" of Shame" that we all are vulnerable to.

    Shame cannot be resolved completely, rather one needs to focus and control the after affects (aggression, depression etc) that arise out it.

    With regards to adopting empathy " is a fallacy" because transforming from the word "Me" to the word "US" is rather difficult because it is either "My Interest" or "Your Interest" and its never "our interest". Resolving this can help us in confronting shame
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      Mar 24 2012: Dear Sunny,

      A thought that comes to mind is how much of shame is learned and how much can be unlearned? Are we taught to experience shame under certain conditions"

      If our response to shame is "I'm never good enough, who do you think you are, I'm sorry I am a mistake" I wonder if perhaps we can learn to respond differently. Part of this is as suggested, to question these responses.

      Shame I think is very much like a lot of things about life, it cannot be resolved completely. Perhaps it is an ongoing challenge that we continue to "face" but can suffer less from as we progress through life, with greater understanding and growing skills and resourcefulness.

      Personally, I am not too sure about the "control the after affects (aggression, depression etc)" part of your reply.

      I am confused about the relationship between empathy and "is a fallacy". It is an interesting avenue to explore and am sure will make for exciting conversation.

      Thank you
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        Mar 25 2012: Aneesah, I'm so glad you started this conversation! I meant to contribute earlier but got caught up in the conversation page that I started, so I didn't realize what an interesting exchange of ideas was happening here...

        Your questions about shame and learning are both important. I'll offer a perspective that I hope might be helpful. Some of the language I use to form my answers might be unfamiliar, it might sound very technical, for example, my use of the word 'Affect' is different that its common use as a synonym for 'feeling' or 'emotion. But I hope you'll bear with me and I'll try to be as clear as I can be

        The capacity of humans to experience shame appears to be hard-wired into our biology as part of a set of distinct 'Affects' that we all come equipped with. These Affects evolved in humans to help us survive. We're each born with 9 distinct primary Affects; we come equipped with twice as many negative affects as positive. That's because in the world that early humans occupied there were many dangers to avoid in order to stay alive. Many neuroscientists now describe the human nervous system as being 'primed for trauma' because of the way we're wired to detect and avoid danger. At bottom we are a very fear-based being: fear is another hard-wired primary Affect. Fear helps humans detect danger quickly.

        Each of our hard-wired Affects is like a circuit that gets activated by our environment, and we have no control over the circuit being activated. You can see this most clearly in infants - iff you watch an infant react to stimuli in it's environment: noises, sudden movement, almost anything that is noticed in the baby's 'field,' you can see that babies are kind of a bundle of reactivity. (there's a great book called: "What Babies Say Before They Can Talk" that describes our Affect System very well).

        We don't have to be taught to feel shame at its most basic level: it's hardwired. Shame will be evoked and experienced in us well before we're able to describe it.
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          Mar 25 2012: Sandy,
          You offer some interesting information regarding this topic....some of which I agree with.

          I do not agree that we are "hardwired" for anything, however. If you are using the term "hardwired" as one might use it for electricity for example, it means that it cannot be changed? It is permanent?

          This may be an older scientific theory, and we now see new scientific theories emerging which indicate that our brain/body can indeed change neural pathways. In addition to the ability to change neural pathways, the brain is growing in size because of evolution. The theory is that as we grow and evolve, we take in new information, which contributes to the changes in neural pathways.

          The information you bring forth certainly is relevant to the topic, and may very well impact the behaviors we speak of. However, I think it is limiting to believe that we are "hard wired" to believe or behave in a certain way, considering the new scientific information.

          I think by teaching the idea.... "Each of our hard-wired Affects is like a circuit that gets activated by our environment, and we have no control over the circuit being activated", you may be adding to the feeling of oppression? If a person believes this information, what is the motivation for trying to change? I believe we have more control than we sometimes give ourselves credit for.
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        Mar 25 2012: Shame at the level of Affect is like a circuit that gets triggered; something like a reflexive part of our nervous system, just as a fear reaction is like a reflex in a baby. Both of my earliest memories are of being awakened suddenly by people I'd never met before (strangers) and of automatically reacting with fear and crying.

        As we grow and our nervous system develops, and we begin to acquire language - and gain the ability to conceptualize - we begin to acquire a kind of repertoire of sensations and feelings that are more complex and nuanced that the basic Affects (though they are grounded in them).

        The kind of shame we experience as we get older DOES involve learning; we learn to associate the awful sensations shame causes with certain people and scenes in our lives, ones that are very specific to us as individuals. That's why what evokes shame in me might not in you.

        I'm concerned that I might be overloading you with information that might not seem immediately relevant, so I'm going to stop for now and ask for your feedback.

        But the questions you and others raise here are vitally important, IMHO. We all get perplexed about coming up with solutions for the complex problems we see all around us in the world, and we want answers and strategies. In my experience many of the 'solutions' that haven't worked came out of an unclear understanding of the origins of the problems or conditions being addressed. Most of the 'solutions for shame' I've seen proposed are too vague and not grounded in an accurate understanding of shame. Thus they mostly amount to 'good advice' by well-intentioned people… and we all know what the road to hell is paved with...
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          Mar 25 2012: Hello Sandy, I'm glad you returned.

          It was easy to follow the information shared about Affect (well and clearly presented).

          There may be many parts of this equation that are out of our control. One starts to suspect this when studying Mythology and going back into history and observing the dynamics in so many areas of life (work, parenting, schooling, politics, religion...)

          The immediate hope and solution seems to come from the part that we have a relative degree of influence in. You point out that

          "The kind of shame we experience as we get older DOES involve learning; we learn to associate the awful sensations shame causes with certain people and scenes in our lives, ones that are very specific to us as individuals. That's why what evokes shame in me might not in you."

          What are the "solutions for shame" you propose?

          (ps. This will be greatly appreciated, you probably need to make a new comment to continue the conversation)
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    Mar 22 2012: Dear Aneesah,
    I agree with Brené Brown that "vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage", and "practicing vulnerability is practicing courage". You mention many important parts of the puzzle above. Questioning my own strengths and weaknesses honestly, brought me to understand my strengths, which gave me more and more confidence to face shame, which allowed me to be vulnerable, which builds strength. I believe it to be a cycle of understanding.

    I agree that "entering the arena is an act of success, stepping out of one's comfort zone and developing compassion and empathy, shifting one's perception, confronting the practice of secrecy and silence are all important pieces.

    My own shame, when I was young, was because of my father's violent behavior. Our situation at home seemed crazy at times, and I carried that shame/crazyness into the beginning of my adult life, believing that when I left my home of origin, that it was finished, and I never had to deal with it again. What I learned, is that it colored my whole life, and impacted how I lived my life. I was keeping it a secret to the best of my ability, but I couldn't keep it a secret from myself.

    In my 40's a professor at the Univ. talked me into guest lecturing in his sociology class- "Violence and abuse in relationships". I was very hesitant, and declined the invitation for months. Finally, I decided to do it, and continued for 6 years. Although it felt like it was going to be shameful in the beginning, I soon discovered that it was freeing to be able to tell my story, which I had kept pretty much to myself my whole life. I discovered that many other people experienced similar situations....I wasn't alone. I discovered a wealth of compassion and empathy from everyone involved, which taught me to have compassion, empathy and understanding for myself and others. I realized that my father's behavior was not shameful to was HIS shame. I learned to have strength with my vulnerability.
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      Mar 22 2012: Dear Colleen, thank you for your deep sharing and I will keep my response brief to honor the power of your message.

      My past too, has been shadowed by abuse, coming from the family I came from and from being non-white in apartheid South Africa. If I had to identify a single most powerful and liberating "practice" that made a difference in my life, it is letting go of secrets. This does define the passion I have for freedom and personal power. I am very conscious of this dynamic in all my choices.

      My other practice, comes from a 5 year extensive training (qualifying as a Social Worker), during which I lived and breathed "empathy". I recognize it's value as a life skill and a life-saving skill.

      By now, you might be recognizing I have a soft spot for mantras... one of mine around this dynamic is that "My real freedom and power comes from the power of love not the love of power."

      Colleen, Your vulnerability is it's own reward, your greatness, your gift to the world...
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        Mar 23 2012: Aneesah,
        Thank you for your kind words. I agree that empathy and compassion are valuble life skills which help us as individuals, and can help others when we share the information. I volunteered for years in several social service agencies, working with people who are dis-empowered because of life experiences.

        Dis-empowerment, insecurity, and lack of confidence is the factor behind all abuse and violation of rights in our world. If we (humankind) could embrace all the valuable "tools" you, Brené Brown and many more have brought to light, our world may be very different. There is no doubt in my mind and heart that love is very powerful. Yes, I've noticed that you like too:>)
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          Mar 23 2012: Colleen, we are all in this together, and I do believe we are on a powerful path and that we are making a difference.

          In my experience, and world view I also believe "Dis-empowerment, insecurity, and lack of confidence is the factor behind all abuse and violation of rights in our world".

          I very actively work with people, especially teenagers who are on the receiving end of bullying. A part of my work that shows great promise is showing empathy, allowing them the space to share their story, and teaching them practices that help them recover a sense of self-worth. (practices similar to the ones I "identified" in Brené Brown's talk).

          Training people to apply these tools, fosters a sense of personal power, worth and freedom. It is very much like "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime". I would even change "and you feed him for a lifetime" to "and he feeds himself for a lifetime". And of course, if he can "fish", he will probably feel inspired to teach others to do the same.

          I believe that these very same practices/tools can benefit "bullies" as well.
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        Mar 24 2012: I agree Aneesah..."we are all in this together", and the sooner we recognize our interconnectedness, the better for all of humankind.

        As I mentioned in another comment on this thread, I've worked with victims and offenders, and my observation is that they are both populations that are insecure, disempowerd and lack self confidence/self esteem. I agree that both victims and offenders can benefit from some of the same information.
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      Mar 22 2012: Thanks!!! I'm removing my other comment.
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          Mar 22 2012: Wow are inspiring!!!

          The "voice" I used to read your comment was Tolle's...your words have very deep meaning.

          Now I will say, that I found it very courageous of him (Tolle) to address google employees and be so candid about how technology is affecting people....did you notice the stern look that his host had at times. He is one brave person.....I have read through one of his books. He has alot of understanding about some very important issues that affect humanity.

          Much thanks Ed.
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      Mar 22 2012: Hi Ed,

      You pose a very valid question "WHY does Ones "Greatness" have to be "dared"???

      When I ask myself this question, it does remind me to step out of my Ego Trap or Ego Pain... and then I can dare with far greater ease (depending on the extent to which I can step out of ego.

      When I am simply being in greatness, in my TRUE SELF, I am in the flow, and it is experienced as effortless.

      The Ego Trap does become an entrapment and I am in it when I become aware of and give importance to other's opinions. Do we need to know how we get there to get out of there... what are one's practices? Or are none needed?

      what are one's practices to stay in one's BEING-ness? Is this the anti-dote to experiencing shame? Are none necessary?

      Thank you for raising the question?
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          Mar 22 2012: Hi Ed,

          The idea that the opposite of daring to is "acceptance of" does introduce a spaciousness, a step into greater potential.

          I think it will be very worthwhile for me to ponder and explore further your comments including "Acceptance" of your Greatness... and then one can TRULY "Realize... your Greatness."

          It is an exciting idea. The next question that comes to mind if How do I practice this acceptance... but I think when I have assimilated your answer, it will be clear.

          ps. I look forward to Eckhart Tolle's google talk. Thanks for now
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    Mar 21 2012: Aneesah, I'm delighted to discover that you've started this conversation with your post. I've been tied to my computer a bit too much today, so I'm going to get out of my house and go for a hike up on Mt. Shasta, to cure my temporary 'cabin fever.' But I will definitely be back to this page soon; later today, hopefully...