Expert Insight: Seeing the Funny Side of Our Mistakes

“One way to encourage clients to accept themselves is to remind them that it is human to err and make mistakes. This will enable them to see themselves as human and learn to replace self-judgement with humility and laughter, rather than being crippled by shame. When clients are able to laugh rather than become embarrassed by awkward situations, they are able to redefine their experience and maintain social bonds. In this way, good-natured humour and laughter has a positive effect in disrupting the cycle of shame (Scheff 1990). Moreover, shared laughter is quintessentially human and a powerful tool for connecting to others.”

– Christiane Sanderson, “Counselling Skills for Working with Shame”

I once heard of a woman who was at a wedding when she spotted that another guest had her skirt hitched into her knickers.

Familiar with the unwritten rule of the sisterhood that we must inform each other when this happens, the woman discreetly told the other guest so she could make the necessary adjustment. Rather than laughing it off, the woman was so mortified she immediately went home.

I felt for that woman. Her shame was so immense she missed out on the wedding celebration. She also missed out on the chance to bond with the woman who told her and have a good laugh.

When we’re in the grip of shame, it’s hard to see the funny side.

I’m not talking about when our mistake has led to serious and negative consequences for ourselves or others.

I mean when we’ve had a mishap, made a gaffe, or suffered a “wardrobe malfunction”. What woman hasn’t had their skirt hitched into their underwear at some point in their lives? (Back me up here, sisters.)

It’s liberating to reclaim embarrassing experiences and reframe them as funny stories.

Try it.

Think of an experience that was mortifying but not too damaging. Can you retell it now with the intention of making yourself or someone else laugh? Maybe think of it as your hilarious chat show anecdote or an amusing episode for your memoir (as ever, happy for you to share).

By describing it in a funny way, we stop taking ourselves quite so seriously and, as Christiane Sanderson says, we redefine the experience and “disrupt the cycle of shame”. The more we can do this, the less we turn to food to escape from it.

Personally, I think experiences like the one above are best handled like Rachel from “Friends”.

“Copacabana” anyone?

 

 

References

Sanderson, C. (2015) Counselling Skills for Working with Shame. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Scheff, T.J. (1990) Microsociology: Emotion, Discourse and Social Structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

 

Can You Forgive Yourself?

I saw a quote the other day that stopped me in my tracks:

“When you keep criticizing your kids, they don’t stop loving you, they stop loving themselves”.

Its stark simplicity hit me hard.

It’s absolutely true. If children are criticised relentlessly, they don’t start hating their parents, they start hating themselves.

Continue reading “Can You Forgive Yourself?”

Food for Thought: The Rush to Forgiveness

“Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.” – Alice Miller

“I forgive them”. This is what victims of crime sometimes say when they’re interviewed on the news days, or even hours, after some terrible violation has been committed against them. Perhaps they were brutally attacked. Perhaps someone they love was murdered.

“I forgive the people who did this to me”, they say.

I always feel a sense of concern when I hear this.

Their forgiveness seems so immediate.  It makes me wonder what happened to their feelings.

Continue reading “Food for Thought: The Rush to Forgiveness”

Gentle Reminder: Trust Yourself

Self-trust. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?

Actually, if you’ve experienced a lifetime of self-doubt, it’s more like difficult difficult lemon difficult.

It can be hard to connect to that quiet, assured, trustworthy voice within you.

But it’s there.

You may struggle to hear it, but it’s there.

Continue reading “Gentle Reminder: Trust Yourself”

Expert Insight: Filling the Spaces of Your Life with Positive People

“Boundaries can be used in two ways – by limiting the actions of the people who have hurt you, and by including the people who’ve shown themselves to be trustworthy. In other words, boundaries prevent harm and allow benefit.

…When a friend proves trustworthy, see that friend again. Risk a little more. Notice when you are treated kindly. Pay attention when someone offers you trust. As you become more discriminating about the people you let in, the spaces of your life will fill up with positive people, and you’ll have less room for the harmful ones.”

– Anne Katherine, “Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day”

Often we think of boundaries as a means solely of keeping toxic people out. But, as Anne Katherine explains, they’re also how we let trustworthy people in.

But how do you know who to allow close and who to keep at a distance?

Continue reading “Expert Insight: Filling the Spaces of Your Life with Positive People”

Food for Thought: Waking Up to Our Boundaries

“Boundaries are the lines we draw that mark off our autonomy and that of other people, that protect our privacy and that of others. Boundaries allow for intimate connection without dissolving or losing one’s sense of self.”   

– Amy Bloom

I love this definition of boundaries by Amy Bloom – psychotherapist, author, screenwriter and probably my new shero.

Boundaries make it safe for us to engage with others, without compromising our independence.  They separate us from each other, while at the same time allowing us to be close. Rather than a barrier to relationship, boundaries give us the means to connect authentically.

But what if we don’t know where they are?

Continue reading “Food for Thought: Waking Up to Our Boundaries”

Gentle Reminder: You are Enough

If I were to ask you why you’re not enough, you’d probably say “I don’t know, it’s just what I feel”.

But a feeling isn’t truth. It’s not fact.

It’s just a feeling.

If I challenged you to give me a list of your deficits and defects, would you struggle to produce concrete evidence?

Continue reading “Gentle Reminder: You are Enough”