“We’re invariably afraid to talk about shame, and (here’s the kicker) the less we talk about (shame), the more control it has over our lives….shame sets off the parasympathetic nervous system’s protective response; we shut down rather than open up.” - Brene Brown, as quoted in Experience Life Magazine
Shame Takes Control
Brown likes to talk about the idea of ‘shame resilience,’ which I find very applicable to couples impacted by hidden shame. Many adults with ADHD developed strong shame responses after a childhood of ‘not measuring up’ and not understanding why. Shame resilience is the idea that if you can recognize and name ‘shame’ and allow that feeling to move through you (rather than engaging with it) this can help you reach out right at the moment when you might naturally be tempted to shut down or hide.
Think about how useful this would be! Rather than cover up a mistake you made, you could reach out and admit you didn’t mean to do ‘X’ and move on to repair the mistake – saving lots of later bad feelings about the lie! Rather than feel ashamed and ‘less than’ because you can’t seem to manage to put your socks in the hamper (“when even a 4-year old can do that!”) you can let that feeling of shame pass you by and then figure out a better system with the help of a coach.
Shame ‘takes control’ by shutting us down and it’s a physiological response in YOU, not something your partner makes you feel. I urge everyone who feels shame to work with their partner on how to not only express shame, but make it ‘safe’ to do so.
You can find great resources for couples impacted by ADHD at adhdmarriage.com, including: a free online treatment overview; free downloadable chapters of my books; a community forum with other couples facing similar issues; a large number of blog posts on various topics; referrals; and my very popular couples course: ADHD Effect In-Depth Couples' Seminar - Next live session starts January, 2017 - this eight-session phone seminar has helped many couples turn around their relationship.
Adult ADHD can have a huge impact on your relationship. ADHDmarriage.com can literally change your life!