The "shame bucket"
Updated: Jul 28
Shame turns us against ourselves and tells us we are weak, worthless, good-for-nothing, inferior, rejected... recognize those thoughts? You're not alone. Shame is a near universal experience - all of us, from one degree to another, experience shame. The "shame bucket" provides helpful understanding of shame and it's effects on our lives.
Picture yourself carrying a bucket. Whether you're standing in your kitchen or walking down the street - the bucket is with you where ever you go. Shame is the liquid filling up the bucket. To whatever degree you're experiencing shame, your bucket begins to fill up. When you're carrying a bucket that's not too full it's really not a big deal. However, when you're carrying a bucket filled to the brim, what's bound to happen? You're going to spill, whether you like it or not. What happens when shame spills out?
How shame comes out
Shame is a complex emotion. Shame brings emotions out. Far and away, the two emotions shame most often brings forth are: anger and sadness. Have you ever blown up on your partner for something silly, like how they loaded the dishwasher, or forgot something on the grocery list? How could such a small circumstance illicit your strong reaction? Shame. Your bucket was full, for whatever reason, and it started to spill.
Have you ever been working on a project or task which wasn't going well, and you began to think, "I should just stop, I'm an idiot" or "Why did I ever think I could do this in the first place"? The more full your shame bucket becomes the harder it is to fight back against negativity, uncontrolled sadness, and unnecessary anger.
In order to be a healthy version of ourselves, we have to fight back against shame in our lives. Here are a few ways to fight:
Battle for truth. Who determines what is really true about you? Why should you do everything perfectly? Is failure the end of the world? Does what she thinks about you really serve as the basis for your identity? Know the answers to these questions before you encounter the circumstance that trigger them.
Know your triggers. What experiences have seemed to bring about the most shame? Often times, things like comparison via social media or pornography use will spike a person's shame. If either of those are true for you, perhaps you should limit the time you spend on social media or quit porn altogether. What people tend to cause shame you in? Your parents? That one couple? Your boss? Do what you can to put up healthy boundaries in your life.
Talk to someone. Who in your life do you trust? Is there anyone you know who you'd gladly accept advice from? See if they're willing to have a coffee or a meal once in a while. If you find yourself in a situation where you think help from a counselor is what you want, go ahead and reach out out to me - I'd be happy to help.