(dutch version here)

Sometimes I meet a client who doesn’t feel shame.

This always makes me a bit suspicious. We need shame. Shame is the feeling when you trespass on other peoples values.  We need shame to stay connected. Of course we also need to learn how to deal with shame, because we tend to relate it to our self-worth.

Because of this relation with self-worth, shame is one of the most important things to work on with clients. Balancing personal values and values of others. These two need to communicate:  our values need to be fed from the pool of other peoples values, and that pool needs our personal values. If this communication is done with self-compassion, we develop a healthy set of personal values.

The more our clients live according to their own values, the less they let shame hold them back.

Going beyond shame is not the same as feeling no shame. It is deciding that your own values are worth so much that you are willing to act regardless of your shame.

So what about those clients who think they feel no shame?

(I’m not talking about sociopaths, they are not clients of ours.)

Two things can be the matter:


Sometimes the feeling of shame can be too hurtful. The unconscious solution is to avoid or reflect the feelings coming in. The cost of this is disconnecting from others and disconnecting form self. 

This recognizable. Maybe coaching isn’t the first step. Maybe therapy is needed.


Not recognizing shame

The most common reason that people say they feel no shame, is because they confuse shame with embarrassment. Embarrassment is the light version of shame, it comes and goes, while shame tends to stay.


What this means for your online programs.

By interchanging shame with embarrassment people are prone to skip over exercises involving shame, because of: “been there done that”.

This “been there done that” is one of the ways to avoid facing the real stuff, the stuff where the exercise is really about.

Another common way in which clients avoid the real stuff is doing the exercise in their heads. Imagining instead of feeling.

This effect makes it so very difficult to get your clients really engaged in your online programs, where the interaction one-on-one is limited.

There may be a facebook group, but that group can be as easily used to help each other avoiding things as it can be a means to help each other face them.

One of the answers is  in the moderating.

That is a skill.

Because you want the perfect mix of encouraging and tickling you participants.

You will have to use your sensitivity to ‘smell’ the avoidance patterns of you participants.

You will have to use your sensitivity to feel when someone is ready for the next layer.

I think this could be the most important skill for a coach.

If you do this right it will set you out form the average online course.


Pleas share your thoughts on this


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