The Soul of Shame: 20 Quotes

While I do not expect all people reading these book review posts to have time to actually read the books these quotes come from, my hope is that these quotations will either be helpful in themselves or inspire you to read the book for yourself.

The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe about Ourselves by Curt Thompson is a book I have had in my Amazon “save for later” cart for a couple years now. It was a book that I thought would be helpful two years ago, but school books pushed aside all other reading. This summer seemed like the perfect time to finally get around to reading it.

This book was incredibly insightful, down-to-earth yet very deep and thorough, sprinkled with stories, and covered in the grace of Christ. I definitely recommend this book to anyone dealing with shame (which has probably been most of us at one time or another). And while this book is by a Christian psychiatrist and is truly Christian, it would also be quite helpful for non-religious people as well.

  1. As the veterans of Alcoholics Anonymous report, we are only as sick as the secrets we keep. And shame is committed to keeping us sick (31).
  2. We feel shame, and then feel shame for feeling shame. It begets itself (31).
  3. When we are in the middle of a shame storm, it feels virtually impossible to turn again to see the face of someone, even someone we might otherwise feel safe with. It is as if our only refuge is in our isolation (34).
  4. There is no better place for shame to hide than in those stories in which it does not seem to be that prevalent (72).
  5. Shame is a leveraging affect that anticipates abandonment while simultaneously initiating movement away—leaving (72).
  6. Given that 60-90 percent of human communication is a function of nonverbal expression, it behooves us to pay attention to all that we say while leaving language out of the picture (81).
  7. It is common for people who are depressed to have a very different understanding of their past, as well as their future, compared to when they are well (90).
  8. I want to tell my story in no small part because I want to be known. For in so doing I experience what it means to be connected to people—which is what my brain longs for as much as anything (91).
  9. Honest vulnerability is the key to both healing shame—and its inevitably anticipated hellish outcome of abandonment—and preventing it from taking further root in our relationships and culture (104-105).
  10. All sin, all idolatry, all coping strategies in which I indulge are ways for me to satiate my hunger for relationship, my longing to be known and loved, my desire to be desired (105).
  11. It is easy and common for us to judge those who are furthest from us. But we reserve our most venomous moments for those that circle most closely in our relational orbits (112).
  12. The potential downside to never having anything to do with trouble in your family is the possibility that your family never suspects that trouble ever has anything to do with you (116).
  13. To be vulnerable is to recognize that we are at the mercy of those whose intentions we cannot guarantee, and who can leave us alone (119).
  14. Vulnerability is not a question of if but rather to what degree (120).
  15. Our vulnerability reminds us that deep relationship is the norm, not something we periodically require when we are in trouble or lonely (122).
  16. Vulnerability is the state we must pass through in order to deepen our connection with God and others, given our condition. There is no other way (123).
  17. The more of me that is exposed to another, the greater will be my wounding when I am betrayed (124).
  18. He [Jesus] does not require anything of us that he does not first do himself (129).
  19. To scorn or disregard shame [Hebrews 12:1-2] is to acknowledge it and turn away, as if we think nothing of it (141).
  20. For if relationship with Jesus is as much about being known as it is about knowing, we soon learn that life with God is not about being right but about being loved (152).

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