Four Steps to Tackling Shame in Sobriety

From Brene Brown’s Shame Resilience Theory 


Shame is a trap for all of us, sober or otherwise. 


Shame convinces us that we are not worthy of love, respect, joy, or health. Shame will do as much to keep us in active addiction as the addiction itself. 


To stop the cycle of shame, here are four steps for you to work through. We encourage you to move from step to step at your own pace during mediation, one-on-one with a trusted friend or mentor, or even through journaling. 


  1. Identify 
  • What does shame feel like to you?
  • Where do you notice shame living in your body? 
  • What does it look like? Smell like? Does it have a temperature? 
  • What descriptors can you assign shame?
  • What experience activates a shame response in your body? 


  1. Contextualize
  • What context does this shame experience have? 
  • Where does it come from? (family of origin, culture, religion, media, etc.) 
  • Who benefits from you having this shame?
  • What unmet expectation or unwanted identity does this shame come from? 


  1. Connect
  • Who offers a safe space for you to be wholly seen? (flaws, mistakes, and all)
  • How can you have a human connection today, no matter how small? 
  • What fears do you hold about connecting on deep levels and surface levels? 


  1. Speak
  • Where can you share your story and be met with empathy? Kindness? Understanding? 
  • Who “Big G” Gets it? 
  • How would it make you feel in your body to share this story? In your mind, heart, and spirit? 
  • Would you feel relief, a weight lighted, if you didn’t have to hold this in anymore? 


Shame cannot survive when met with connection, empathy, and shared stories. 


Here’s to hoping you are at least four steps closer to conquering the shame cycle today!