I have been reading a book by Brene Brown called "I Thought It Was Just Me."

Brene is a "shame researcher."

I think I had always used shame, guilt, embarrassment, and humiliation interchangeably. All the while knowing that shame had a deeper meaning, but not quite sure how to define it.

Brene says shame is who we are and guilt is what we do.

For instance, I feel guilty because I ate too many calories. That is guilt. "I ate too much. I do not want to be someone who eats to much. I know it contributes to weight gain and makes me feel sick."

Shame is because I am an over eater and fatty. This is shame. "I am ugly. I am disgusting. Why can't I just stop eating when I'm full? I am worthless. I will never be thin and beautiful."

Brene says for women especially we have a great deal of shame associated with our looks and body image. We feel as if we are the only ones who look the way we do. We are the only ones who have the problems we have.

This is confirmed by advertising, movies and TV shows. For some reason, we see these women as the norm, rather than the exception. And since this is what is burned into our brains, we feel we are the "odd woman out." We are the "only ugly woman in the room," the "only woman with hideous stretch marks," the "only mother that didn't lose the pregnancy weight and then some within 2 months of giving birth."

The only way to combat feelings of shame are feeling of compassion and empathy.

How can women do this? How can we be compassionate to the woman filled with self-loathing? Empathetic to the woman who feels like she is the only one on earth succumbing to age and gravity?

It might start with being comfortable in our own skin. And maybe not brushing off comments other women make about their body. Maybe instead of saying "whatever, you're crazy. You're beautiful." Really hear them. Really hear their pain. Allow yourself to go there. And just be there with them. We can do this.


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