S4E4: Curt Thompson and the Soul of Shame

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Shame can impact every area of our lives, from our relationships to our workplaces. But where does it come from? What does the Bible have to say about it? Dr. Curt Thompson explains shame's origins, it's impact, and how we can grow from it.


On shame and the biblical narrative:

"In the biblical narrative, shame is one of the things that evil actively uses to disintegrate our human relationships...Evil does its work by isolating the conversation. I think evil is smart and knows that shame operates in isolation most effectively."

On the difference between shame and guilt:

"'I feel guilty because I've done something bad. I feel shame because I am bad'...We have a hard time separating ourselves from shame. With guilt, it's this thing that I've done and that action is separate from me, but shame is almost like it's in my genes. It's in my chromosome, it's difficult for me to get away from that." 

On shame and isolation:

"We live in a world that insists that we must be self-made people. We live in a world that insists that we must do everything we can to minimize vulnerability, to minimize weakness, never reveal that, play to our strengths and continue to accentuate that. When in fact, some of the most beautiful things that we make, we do so explicitly because we are vulnerable and because we need the help of other people. With shame, we are unable to heal ourselves. We need the presence of other people to come and find us because we are not prone to looking to someone else to help us when we're in the middle of that kind of experience."

On shame in the workplace:

"Even as a leader, if I'm the CEO of the company, I actually create opportunities for other people who are my subordinates to grow and flourish when I reveal in proper context of course, relative vulnerabilities that I also feel about my position and about the work that I'm doing. In offering my vulnerability, I also create space for other people around me even who are my subordinates to do work that enables all of us to do our work that much more effectively."


Read more from Curt Thompson in The Soul of Shame and Anatomy of the Soul.*Check out "Leaving Shame Behind," our online course with Curt Thompson at Scatter.org.Download the episode transcript.

*–Purchase with purpose. Amazon donates to Denver Institute when you shop at smile.amazon.com.