The Oldest Story Is All About Shame

Picture(Art: Cycle Gladiator Winery, Santa Rosa, CA)

by Jami and Marla Keller

Body shaming is getting some front page press…again. This time it’s a little Kim Kardashian drama about cellulite and disgust and a lot of “How dare she mislead us???” Friends, do you realize that the pic of her on the beach lost her one hundred THOUSAND followers on Instagram??? What the what? But don’t worry too much about her dynasty; she still have 98.8 million followers on Insta… But please do worry about the fact that she was shamed in the most vicious way.

We see it in our coaching practice all the time. One client who has done much work to get past body shame recently said, “I was not a wanted baby. My mom couldn’t handle another child and I always felt like my body was not welcome, and I was ashamed, especially of my female parts.”  And don’t make the mistake that guys are immune to it. They get it, too, now more than ever.

We were recently reminded that body shaming is one of the oldest stories. Adam and Eve, “felt ashamed and covered their nakedness.” No matter what you believe about the bible, it is interesting that the first story recorded has body shame in it. And so from body shame there is sex shame (slut-shaming comes to mind), and from sex shame there are secrets and lies that have built a cloud of fear, loneliness and being either controlled by the shame or feeling desperately out of control. Our deepest hurts can be about how we look. Our culture desperately needs new language and skills to drain the shame out of our beliefs about our bodies!

Marla recently posted an abbreviated version of this on Facebook right after we finished binge-watching a very powerful Netflix show:

13 Reasons Why…I can’t even imagine being in high school right now. The bullying was bad enough (devastating really) in the mid 80’s where there were no cell phones and social media platforms to accentuate and broadcast our/my shame. I remember clearly the day that five or so other Freshman followed me from a distance from PE to English class and yelled things like, “You’re as ugly as a mutt, you’ve got freckles on your butt,” and “Too bad your butt’s so big. You’d be cute if you were skinner.” Wow. Really? I was 5 foot 4 inches tall and weighed a whopping 110!

​The body and slut-shaming in 13… hit way too close to home, in a still very hidden place in my heart that I’ve realized needs another layer of exposure, forgiveness and healing. I was in a Christian boarding school and was categorized as a “slut” because I dated a lot of guys and made out with them. Did I make stupid decisions because of my deep desire to be approved of and loved? Of course. But that’s NEVER. An. Excuse. For. Shaming. My anorexia and bulimia raged an internal war against me, striving for control, perfection and some kind of absolution for that shameful 5 year old little girl, me, that had been sexually abused. I teared up at some point in almost every episode, my heart aching for Hannah’s devastating journey. Really for all of their heartbreaking journeys…

What’s probably the most heartbreaking is that we girls/women don’t build up and support each other. Is it our “not enoughness” that compels us to make each other small so that we can feel “enough”? In a crazy twist in my adulthood (over the past 16 years), when I was a pastor in three different churches in three different states, it was women who shunned me the most for being a female in a “male’s role,” for wearing a blouse too low, or pants too tight, or too much make up, and the list goes on and on and on. Sadly they were so absorbed in what I was wearing that they missed out on what I was saying. But actually the very worst of it was the shaming those ladies cast out onto our teen daughters. No wonder they don’t want anything to do with organized religion.

Let’s get it together, ladies! WE NEED EACH OTHER. Let’s stop this madness and create a tsunami of love, connection, empathy, and compassion and change this story and change this world. And it starts with me. I love and support you, ALL of you, ladies in my life!

Turns out, there is good news. For over twenty-two years we have been streamlining and teaching a process that drains that shame out of the dark places and gives power back the those that have difficulty loving themselves and, yes, that is everyone… It is simple, and profound and it begins with writing your feelings down a few times a day. Here’s our small Feeling Wheel to get you started:

Click here for our wheel with more feelings.

It is like being human is a crime. We’re here to tell you that it does not have to be. The awareness of your beauty (male or female), and the power to be beautiful, is inside of you. Know that you can make a difference, and the path to feeling empowered is right here.

After a few visits with one of our eighteen-year-old clients, an absolutely beautiful cheerleader, she said to us, “I feel like I get to choose how I feel instead of how shameful [the mean girls] try to make me feel.” These were girls who had shamed her for no reason other than the fact that they could. What is the point anyway of gossiping about someone’s flaws or their decisions, right or wrong. (By the way, it is the beautiful that get the worst of this. One clinician we know works with pro-basketball player’s wives and she says it is the most body-shamed group she has ever seen; think Eva Longoria, and of course today Kim Kardashian is in the news, so no one is immune, no matter how good looking or secure they are.)

Let’s all take a stand and not tolerate any body shaming, for yourself and anyone else. For us, it is absolutely not okay to hear someone say any disparaging thing about what someone is wearing, or any body issue, or how they are behaving sexually according to another person’s judgmental position. And we say it out loud when it happens in our hearing. It is fixable, we just all need to do the work to be fully present and express our feelings healthfully, all the while draining the shame out of the dark places.

We’d love to hear your experiences. You are not alone. Let’s help others realize that they are not alone either.

Are you ready to be free of shame? We’d love to help you move beyond your shame into love and peace and empowerment and joy! Contact us today at [email protected] and give us your three difficult feelings about your experience and we’ll email you a free gift.


​Jami and Marla Keller founded Passion Provokers in 2011 after they had spent the previous 21 years working in the coaching field. Many patterns emerged in this field, and they soon realized they needed to rebrand what it meant to have and to be in relationships. Jami and Marla Keller became Relationship Coaches and Licensed Facilitators with Life Skills International in 1995. From personal trials to professional success, they resolved to give everyone outstanding success in their relationship goals.
Their coaching is short-term (a maximum of 12 months) for a lifetime of results. With their unique way of coaching together, Jami and Marla have created simple teachings and processes that empower their clients to discover their passions and begin living into them. Since their job is to empower people’s lives and evoke a passion to thrive, they realized “provoking passion” was their job; hence, the name evolved into Passion Provokers.
Specializing in couples, they also teach this process to individuals and groups. Working with such a broad demographic has allowed them to enrich people’s lives in every facet. Together, they flourish in teaching people these simple and effective techniques and tools that, when followed, transform lives 100% of the time. They have traveled nationally presenting workshops and seminars to couples and individuals. They are the co-authors of the book Our Real Journey, a 13-week recovery program for teens entitled Journey to Nai, a 13-week recovery program for control and abandonment entitled Forever After, a follow up 13-week recovery program for Forever After entitled Passionate Tranquility, there new book with the current working title 3 Weeks to a Compassionate, Connected Coupleship, and Jami​’s newest book Silhouette of a Man: Becoming Conscious. ​
Jami and Marla have been married for 28 years, they live in Boise Idaho, have two beautiful grown daughters and a son-in- law. They love adventuring together, which involves things like hiking, tandem bicycle riding, traveling around the globe, Bikram yoga, road trips, presenting experiential workshops or simply sitting quietly and reading together.

PART THREE: How the Feeling Wheel 4.0Helps Build Community Around You


By Jami Keller
(Read Part One HERE and Part Two HERE)

The Best Inner Struggle!
Simply surviving often interferes with living our dreams. We often forget what we truly desire in life because we have given up on our dream(s). Our Feeling Wheel 4.0 leads you to your best potential in your biggest investment in this life, your closest relationships. It is a simple exercise that allows you to pay closer attention to what you are feeling in any given moment.
In doing this tracking you can look across the Feeling Wheel 4.0 and see either where you have been or where you want to go. By recognizing a feeling, and the contrasting feeling, your brain can find ways to get you there if you give it a little practice.
The trouble is that most of us are expressing ourselves poorly, or not at all, and holding in or stuffing the hurt and disappointment. This results in patterns that can become limiting or destructive. The path to shift from Abandoned to Joy goes through the interplay between Shame, Forgiveness and Love.  

So to understand this, and use the Feeling Wheel 4.0 best, it is important that you understand and practice forgiveness.

Let’s look at what forgiveness is and is not:

Forgiveness is…

  • First, and foremost it is for you first. Do it for yourself, you are worth it. If you don’t forgive the hurt you have experienced in your life what are you doing with them? (Hint: holding onto them painfully.)
  • A choice very often way before it’s a feeling.
  • Allowing you to establish your truth which gives you the ability to have the best healthy boundaries you have ever had.
  • Finding yourself, and your worthiness, in the release of the pain.

Forgiveness Is Not

  • A “Get Out of Jail Free” card for the person(s) who harmed you. They are still accountable for their actions.
  • Letting anybody off the hook for what they’ve done. They are still accountable to their actions and behaviors
  • Not asking you to reconnect with those who have hurt you. Some people are toxic, and being in relationship with them is not healthy for you.

Forgiveness is a choice to let yourself off the hook for carrying any pain longer than necessary, yours or anyone else’s. When used properly, intentionally, and consistently it will lead you to build better boundaries as well as experience joy in the process.
This allows a transition to the “Southside” of the Feeling Wheel 4.0. Most often, the first sensation our clients experience is one of Relief, and who couldn’t use more of that!

Forgiveness often means reminding yourself that you have chosen to forgive, and then to effectively shift from old patterns that were solidly created usually a long time before you choose forgiveness. Feelings are often rehearsed from the past and, once forgiven, can be rerouted to new feelings and experiences. Being more conscious of your patterns of expressing feelings, your choice to forgive will allow you to operate from a place of Peace, Power and Joy. This will help you not repeat a pattern that you no longer want or need.

Forgiveness drains the shame out of your life, and it is a constant process because there are constant messages in life to feel guilty, and often times guilt turns into shame without intentional work without your awareness that this is happening.
Interestingly Shame, Fear, Hurt, Anger, and even Jealousy can give you important information about yourself and can guide your behavior towards the things you value most. That is, if you are always learning how to feel and express your feelings appropriately and carefully.
The Feeling Wheel is the first step of living a bigger dream; it is the foundation of all true success. It changes your “self talk” so that no feeling is toxic, and you are able to build better boundaries from this new, more aware place.
Start by picking your most common “Northside” feelings and send us an e-mail, (a[email protected]) and we will send you a custom Contemplation to learn how to transition any feeling you may be experiencing at any time into a source of Peace, Power, and Joy.

Welcome to the Feeling Wheel 4.0: a tool that is building better communities one person at time. There are other resources available at our website HERE.


Jami Keller is Cofounder of Passion Provokers with a BS as well as Executive Relationship and Forgiveness Coach Certified. He is a mentor, coach, facilitator and consultant on all things Feeling and Forgiveness. He and his wife, Marla, work with singles, individuals and couples guiding them into a better story; a story of love, passion, trust, connection and humility.

​PART TWO: How the Feeling Wheel 4.0 Helps Build Community Around You


by Jami Keller

In Part One of this blog series I talked about how your performance matters. How you show up shows what you value, and we all live out our values. I was very confused about my own value and, therefore, had difficulty because my main value had become “to avoid conflict and pain.” Maya Angelou said, “You do what you do based at what you value most at the time.”  Our values are visible in how we live.
Today, in Part Two, I am going to explain how to navigate the wheel so that you can communicate clearly and teach others to do so by example.
Start with your feelings, and practice expressing them in the moment. It may take some time to clear the backlog…. And it’s okay to take your time.
Let’s make creating healthy community where we are a first priority, let’s value each other enough to show that in a safe community it is ok to feel, and express your feelings and only you are responsible to those feelings. 

The Feeling Wheel 4.0 is a much-needed tool to build community, strengthening our ability to solve the personal and worldwide problems. It takes practice to use the Feeling Wheel 4.0, and it requires that you pay attention to your feelings.
Those that Can Communicate Clearly Get Their Needs Met Best
By beginning with identifying your feelings, you can very quickly improve just about any situation.

I know, I was passively suicidal for over 17 years, but if I had been conscious of my feelings and learned to express them appropriately this would not have been the case. I was confused because I did not learn that I was valuable without performing. What we need to communicate most of all is what we desire. We cannot expect our desires to be met when we are unable to articulate what they are. And it is no big surprise that what we want most as human beings is acceptance.

In order to be accepted and approved of as our authentic selves, we must be communicating clearly. This requires knowing what our feelings are at any given moment, and the story we tell ourselves everyday. This is where the Feeling Wheel 4.0 helps us have a better understanding of what is happening now, and a common language to communicate those feelings with those we care about.
The Feeling Wheel 4.0 has three sections: the hub, middle ring and outer ring. Let’s start with the hub.

The core of the wheel has three feelings: ShameForgiveness and Love. This is the core of all of our drama. All our behaviors are related to how we deal with these three feelings. Think of Shame as the giant lie that you are not worthy of love. This is why Marla and I put Shame across from Love. It is because Shame is the only toxic feeling on the wheel, and it is in fact based on a lie; the lie that any person believes that they are a bad person. And because of the nature of Shame, it sticks to other feelings like FearAngerJealousy and even Peace and Joy. All feelings free from shame are healthy feelings, as they are giving us important information like, “Run away from the danger”, or, “This is important to me”.
The problem I had was what we called “hereditary shame.” I felt guilty and shamed all the time. Because of this I remember thinking and saying out loud, “Fuck it.” This attitude did not require much thinking, and I was making terrible choices starting in seventh grade, thus the language. It took me a long time to even realize I was on such a devastating self-destructive path, and it didn’t need to. I wrote out part of the story for special non-profit effort to help those struggling with suicide. You can access that here:

Unsung Heroes: Deconstructing Suicide Through Stories of Triumph 
Unsung Hero Publishing 
$12.99 $12.97

And the full book will be published soon. What is important now is that we start investing in stronger relationships so we can build better communities and it starts with our feelings.
As it turns out, after nearly twenty-two years of helping people learn to forgive inside the hurt of life, every single time, if done consistently, forgiveness brings people to Love. By loving themselves they build better relationships. It is not complicated. In fact, it is a choice and when done consistently is very effective. Accountability in a blame-free environment is also helpful.

Love often gets a bad wrap from romance novels and difficult boundaries around sexual stuff. Love has a tough job because we only have one word in the English language for really three huge constructs. Love has three components: Agape, Philos, and ErosAgape is universal love of all life, the love of a Creator, or the force that holds the omniverse together. Philos is brotherly love, the love you have for a sibling or best friend.  Eros gets all the attention, and often colors our view of love because of issues around erotic love.

Love, of course, is the only thing that brings meaning to life. These three feelings, LoveForgiveness and Shame represent the core conflict of our hearts as we try to make sense out of life. It’s often brutal on our hearts, and this affects our ability to feel safe enough to really feel our feelings. Researchers have found that they heart has forty thousand brain cells that function separate from the brain and the vascular function of the heart. So our hearts have memory, and they need to be trained just like education trains our brains. This core of the Feeling Wheel is the source of conflict we often feel around emotion and expressing our feelings well.
Just outside the core are six feelings that are indeed modes. A mode is a pattern of behavior solidified to help us function and communicate. Think of it as an autopilot program that gets activated in certain situations, designed to protect your heart. Most often we don’t think much about doing these things, we just do them often without much conscious thought. These are often packages of behaviors that once served us well and helped us survive, but are now needing to be updated to serve us better.
On the top or Northside, there is AbandonedFear and Control. These three feelings are representations of the modes, and while all of the six need “maintenance” on a regular basis these are the three that serve as warnings about what needs updating. It turns out that most relationships have a Control/ Abandonment pattern in them. And the kicker is that we don’t have to be Controlled or Abandoned to get the cycle going. If we fear that we will be Controlled or Abandoned we are most likely to respond negatively with one of these modes because of fear. 

Let’s explore what happens when you drop into the mode of Abandonment:

< em style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51)">Abandonment is partially defined by it’s petals (as all the modes) GuiltAshamedDepressedLonelySad, and Tired. And its opposite is Joy. One description is that Abandoned is triggered when people turn their backs on you and leave you behind.

Feeling Abandoned can be physical or emotional, and is often both. No number of words can explain it better than you can feel it. It is nearly universal that we all have felt shut out or abandoned in some way.

Any feeling can become a mode. There are more modes than we can list, and so these are a simplified and partial representation. We use the nine feelings in the hub of the Feeling Wheel 4.0 to represent a general map and compass to help us communicate clearly with each other. Once a feeling like Abandonment has been experienced enough times we develop a pattern of expression, or often lack of expression, to limit the pain we experience.

All of our early strategies worked to keep us alive so far. And most often those same strategies are no longer needed. We have found that this is consistently the source of success or failure in life.
In the third and final part of this blog series will take a closer look at what forgiveness is and how to drain shame out of your life starting now. It is not complicated; it just takes being consistent and avoiding the idea that you already have. Most of us misunderstand the power of forgiveness because it is NOT a one-time thing, it is a daily focus forward, so we can change the old shaming thoughts into a beautiful life.


Jami Keller is Cofounder of Passion Provokers with a BS as well as Executive Relationship and Forgiveness Coach Certificatied. He is a mentor, coach, facilitator and consultant on all things Feeling and Forgiveness. He and his wife, Marla, work with singles, individuals and couples guiding them into a better story; a story of love, passion, trust, connection and humility.

​PART ONE: How the Feeling Wheel 4.0 Helps Build Community Around You


By Jami Keller

It is a matter of fact that how you practice a skill is how you perform. One of the best ways to improve anything is to go beyond your comfort level. When you let your brain operate in autopilot we all tend not to challenge the things we do to communicate and often wonder why we are disappointed. We can live a functional life and even be fairly happy but miss learning how to feel and express our most personal feelings and this robs families and communities of quality connection and the ability to care for each other.
In any skill, that is when you start to see improvements. It is true for physical, mental and emotional skills. Your business depends on what you do on a regular basis, how you practice. Your fitness depends on your practice. And your relationships are a matter of practice. All of these things are critical to growing personally and as a community.
Community looks different today than it ever has before. For the first time in history we literally can build a community around us, even if that means connecting with people all over the world.

The Feeling Wheel 4.0 is a much-needed tool to build community, strengthening our ability to solve the personal and worldwide problem. It takes practice to use the Feeling Wheel 4.0, and it requires that you pay attention to your feelings. Marla and I have found that it is the best practice for all communication. It is especially helpful in difficult situations. This is the first of a three-part blog on how to engage in a practice that will boost your performance in every area of your life.
We first encountered a feeling wheel in 1995 as part of the domestic violence facilitator and coach training we received from Life Skills International. It was a “dittoed copy,” and it was labeled “anonymous.” We updated that wheel and added the hub with more core feelings, later we added the color, and finally the copyright was certified in 2010. We are nearly ready to put out the 5.0 version.
For me, this concept was a little surprising and I count that as a helpful bonus because it shocked me into a new awareness. This idea is not new to most people, and because it’s not new we fail to challenge our old habits. I had trouble in my family life because I kept doing the things that were getting me positive “feedback” at the cost of being honest about my own feelings. Learning how to feel and express using this process saved my life.
Most people we encounter have a difficult time naming more than a couple feelings that they have had in the last few days. There are at least three different emotions, or feelings, being felt at the same time, and they change with every situation. Try it yourself. Can you name ten feelings you have felt in the last 72 hours? The Feeling Wheel 4.0 will help. By learning to name your feelings and express them you begin a whole new way of communicating effectively and simply.

Our culture has gone through an incredible shift in just the last eighty years. The connection to a core community that used to last a lifetime and included most of your blood relatives shifted first to the nuclear family. This birthed suburbia and a shift towards much larger cities and a cultural revolution. This by itself was a major departure from the agrarian communities that were the standard for about ninety-percent of all the humans in the history of our planet before the 1940s. Children that grow up in a densely populated area are far more likely to live single than their parents did. And we have now entered the information age, where we are all focused on our individual screens. The dawning of the age of the digital narcissist.

There is currently a lack of available extended family to help us learn a shared language of core feeling expression, allowing us to be accountable, respecting our own feelings and the feelings of others. As it is, the golden rules of safe and fair community have been forgotten, and while dysfunction affected everyone we are now more likely to gripe about petty things to people other than the person who is bothering us. This is triangulation, and it is creating a more hostile social environment. And when we can now hide behind our computer screens while we lash out at people whom we don’t like. So the problem actually becomes more toxic, and entire community systems are hurt, and thrown off balance so that caring for each other has become more costly and less effective.
And we now live in a world community that needs us to show up with clear and compassionate communication to defuse the irrational tensions that are crippling sustainability for us all.

This brings us to what we have experienced with our Feeling Wheel 4.0. How does it build communities that heal with each other? We must learn to feel and to connect in genuine ways so we can develop safety with each other and support each other. There is a foundation for success, and it is simple: letting your feelings be real and the feelings of those around you to be real, you don’t have to agree with how they got there, the feelings are just the result of what has happened so far. When you make feeling and expressing your emotions healthfully a habit, it will transform your life and your communication. As it turns out, those that can communicate clearly get their needs met best.
In Part Two, I will explore the practice and habit of feeling and communicating core emotions.


Jami Keller is Cofounder of Passion Provokers with a BS as well as Executive Relationship and Forgiveness Coach Certificatied. He is a mentor, coach, facilitator and consultant on all things Feeling and Forgiveness. He and his wife, Marla, work with singles, individuals and couples guiding them into a better story; a story of love, passion, trust, connection and humility.