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I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough"

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Shame is a visceral emotion whose exact characteristics are difficult to describe, but at its core, it has to do with a feeling of not being good enough. Articulating such an experience can be difficult – after all, discussing shame requires us to, at least to a certain degree, relive the pain it causes. the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another” ~ Dictionary.com The importance of empathy: The author emphasizes the importance of empathy in reducing feelings of shame, and provides tips for developing empathy and becoming a more compassionate person.

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) Summary - 12min Blog I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) Summary - 12min Blog

Instead of a synopsis or thinly veiled attempt at sounding studious, I thought I'd extract a few quotes that, while written about and for a female audience, hit home for me and that I think are representative of the importance of the work presented in this volume. Though the things that trigger shame are different for men and women, the feelings are the same. However, there is great relief in understanding the experience is universally experienced (hence, the title). In “I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)” , bestselling author Brené Brown shows us the importance of our imperfections in building healthy relationships with others and with our own selves. This said, I've never met anyone who didn't experience shame at one time or another. I've met some people who seem to play life safely to avoid shame, but find it anyway.The shame resilience theory is a grounded theory and is based on building resilience to shame by connecting with our authentic selves and growing meaningful relationships with other people. Shame resilience involves moving towards empathy (courage, connection and compassion) when we are experiencing shame and away from shame (fear, blame and disconnection). Or consider another participant whose mother committed suicide when she was in high school. It was a time when she needed support and compassion, but she was instead ostracized by her fellow students for being the daughter of a crazy lady who hung herself. Based on this information, the author put together the following definition: shame is a deeply painful sensation that stems from the belief that we’re not good enough, and that this shortcoming will prevent us from being accepted by and belonging to a group.

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Co…

However, avoiding talking about shame means that not everyone understands what it is. That is what we are here to explain.

In her research, Brené found that when people don’t recognise their shame and the expectations and messages that trigger shame, we put up shame screens. A shame screen is a defence mechanism that we use to protect ourselves as it triggers our primal fight, flight and freeze response. It means we either –


I spent a lot of time in the car with my dad this week. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the critical awareness to see shame about my broken promise as one of the causes of my discomfort. Therefore, another feeling tried to creep up a lot: anger.

Summary Points & Takeaways from I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)

Indeed, the exact characteristics of shame are hard to describe, so it is no wonder most people do not recognize its roots. However, what we can say for sure is that at its core, shame is connected with the feeling or thought of not being good enough. That being said, when the author interviewed over 300 people about how they experience shame, she discovered a theme; shame is a negative feeling connected to a sense of rejection and the exposure of aspects of ourselves that we tend to hide.

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