The Foodie Dietitian Blog

Mindful Monday: How to Combat Shame

We all experience shame, also known as guilt, humiliation, or embarrassment. Shame is universal – but we don’t have to surrender to it. We can fight it. Read on to learn how to combat shame.

We all experience shame, also known as guilt, humiliation, or embarrassment. Shame is universal - but we don't have to surrender to it. We can fight it. Read on to learn how to combat shame. | @karalydon’ve had some conversations recently with a close friend about how we want to start a blog to talk about the shit that no one talks about. The stuff that has a such a big stigma attached to it that everyone feels they need to bottle it all up because we don’t think it’s “normal” or it doesn’t live up to these unrealistic expectations that we or society has set for us about how we’re supposed to feel and act. Like when you have problems in your relationship with your significant other. Admitting to seeing a therapist. Struggling with your weight. Experiencing postpartum depression. Admitting to body image issues. Having anxiety about tying the knot. Undergoing financial struggles. The types of things that when admitted to make us feel like a failure. The stuff NOBODY wants to talk about but yet SO many people can relate to. And without the ability to normalize this stuff – to connect with others who share the same human experience – we crack. We develop anxiety. We feel depressed. We disconnect.

When did we become a culture that no longer talks about anything remotely difficult or uncomfortable? When did we all start feeling so shameful about our thoughts, feelings, and struggles?

I’ve been thinking a lot about shame lately after finishing Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. It’s a must read if you struggle with vulnerability (but who doesn’t). And I’ve concluded I’ve been a bit of a shame basket case and I need to cut the shame out!

Not sure what shame even is? Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection…shame is the fear of disconnection – it’s the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal we’ve not lived up to, or a goal we’ve not accomplished, makes us unworthy of connection.”

Brown lists twelve “categories” where shame typically rears its ugly head:

  • appearance and body image
  • money and work
  • motherhood/fatherhood
  • family
  • parenting
  • mental and physical health
  • addiction
  • sex
  • aging
  • religion
  • surviving trauma
  • being stereotyped or labeled

So how do we combat shame? How do we get out of this vicious cycle of feeling ashamed?


Shame grows and gets bigger when we don’t talk about it so the only way to minimize shameful feelings is to talk it out.

Brown writes in Daring Greatly: “shame derives its power from being unspeakable. That’s why it loves perfectionists – it’s so easy to keep us quiet. If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we’ve basically cut it off at the knees. Shame hates having words wrapped around it. If we speak shame, it begins to wither. Just the way exposure to light was deadly for the gremlins, language and story bring light to shame and destroy it.”

One caveat to talking about shame is don’t just lay your shame on anyone and everyone – that can have its own repercussions. Instead, identify a couple or few people in your life who you trust with all your heart and know they’ll always have your back. Those are the people you should deem your “shame buddies”. The people who you should feel safe talking to and getting vulnerable with. The people who love you no matter what.

We need to start opening up more. Breaking down the walls we’ve built up. Stop worrying about being judged. About caring what other people will think of us. We need to start letting our true selves be seen.

Because by doing so we can connect with other people who might be going through the same thing we are. We can help heal each other by normalizing – by saying, I know what you’re going through. You’re not alone. Because feeling alone is a really, really shitty feeling.

We all have so much more in common than we think. We all share the human experience. And that human experience is one wild ride. So don’t take the ride alone. Find a partner. A confidante. And get vulnerable. Be seen. And combat shame, once and for all.

Tell me, do you ever experience shame? When does shame come up for you? Do you talk about it or bottle it up?

I'm a nutrition coach and yoga teacher helping people to learn to love food again. I love cooking, taking pictures of my food and traveling around the world. Follow my blog for delicious, seasonal vegetarian recipes and simple strategies to bring more yoga and mindfulness into your life. And check out my e-book to learn how to improve your health through nutrition and yoga. Show me what deliciousness you make! Tag me @karalydonRD on Instagram.


  1. Such an important reminder! Her books definitely changed how I think about things and explained shame in a powerful way. For me, it’s come up most recently around work, productivity, thinking I should be doing more/making more/etc. I’m hoping to see Brene Brown in September – she’s coming to both Boston and NH!

  2. I am ashamed to admit that Brene Brown has been on my reading list for at least a year. I think I need to go ahead and order Daring Greatly tonight! Fantastic post, and I am absolutely there with you on the “shame” blog. Love the idea of having “shame buddies.” As I’m thinking about it, there are some people I don’t see as often or speak to as often, but we can always share our vulnerabilities. I feel so much closer to those people than friends I see frequently.

    • Haha no shame allowed! If it makes you feel any better I purchased Daring Greatly a year before I actually picked it up and read it. And I love your point that shame buddies don’t necessarily have to be the people that you see or talk to most frequently. I have a couple close friends like that too and we rarely see each other. xx

  3. I just wanted to share Sheryl Paul’s work with you. She has been a godsend to me when it comes to relationship anxiety. I have formed wonderful friendships through her forum and have found a community of other ‘anxiety-prone’ HSP’s (highly sensitive people) like myself. There IS support out there and we are not alone. I’ve done a lot of work myself through reading, therapy, Sheryl’s e-courses, yoga, etc. I will figure out how to share her most recent blog post here. And thank you for your post as well – no one needs to feel ashamed about being who they are – thank you for bringing up Brene Brown, definitely need to look into her work!!!

    • Wow, thanks for introducing me to Sheryl Paul’s work, Kim! I think I might need to purchase that Conscientious Bride book :). Definitely check out Brene Brown too – I think you’ll really enjoy her work.

  4. Shame = fear of disconnection. I had to let that soak in a bit to make sense of it. I thought about my STUFF and how hard I try to brush all of that under a rug. Lately, I, too, have discovered the power in sharing my addictions, my so-called weaknesses with those that I trust and love. Journaling has helped A LOT too. There are some things I’m still hesitant to share, and writing down my thoughts and reading them really helps me make sense of them. However, there’s nothing like a good heart-to-heart conversation with your loved ones. Not to mention, when you introduce that element of vulnerability and honesty, it makes the relationship that much stronger ;).

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