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Building Self-Esteem: How Learning from Shame Helps Us Grow
Joseph Burgo. New Rise, $16.95 trade paper (318p) ISBN 978-0-9975920-2-3
In this shrewd treatment, psychologist Burgo (The Narcissist We Know) considers how to use shame to develop self-esteem. With the mindset that “healthy self-esteem does not mean the absence of shame but rather the ability to recover from it,” Burgo explains the many forms that shame can take—embarrassment, guilt, blame shifting, and self-consciousness—and why shame is not always a bad thing. He argues that shame evolved to help discourage antisocial behavior, as opposing one’s group came with the cost of the “shame-ridden feeling of exclusion.” Burgo uses stories of patients suffering from depression, self-abuse, and anxiety, and shows how they implemented coping strategies to move forward. For instance, he recommends “braving and learning to bear those situations that stirred up anxiety” by “setting realistic and attainable goals” that lead toward a feeling of “pride in achievement.” Exercises that help readers explore feelings of shame, reflect on childhood assumptions, and assess what one might be avoiding round things out. Burgo’s easy-to-follow and persuasive take will help any reader better understand the workings of shame. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 04/16/2021

Release date 05/01/2020