Understanding Shame Part 1

on

We have all felt shame at one time or another. Maybe we were teased for mispronouncing a common word or for how we looked in a bathing suit, or perhaps a loved one witnessed us telling a lie. Shame is the uncomfortable sensation we feel in the pit of our stomach when it seems we have no safe haven from the judging gaze of others. We feel small and bad about ourselves and wish we could vanish. Although shame is a universal emotion, how it affects mental health and behavior is not self-evident. 

In this series of post we will try to uncover some common words and situations which bring about the feelings of shame in people. Let’s look at some words associated with it :

  • Shame
  • Culpability
  • Embarrassment
  • Mortification
  • Shyness
  • Contrition
  • Discomposure
  • Humiliation
  • Self-conscious

Take the first step from shame to compassion today. Tap here to start your journey > https://empress2inspire.blog/2020/01/23/from-shame-to-compassion/

Let’s now look at some prompting events for feeling shame :

  • Being rejected by people you care about
  • Having other find out that you have done something wrong
  • Doing (of feeling or thinking) something that people you admire believe is wrong or immoral
  • Comparing some aspect of yourself or your behaviour to a standard and feeling as if you do not love up to that standard
  • Being laughed at/made fun of
  • Being criticised in public/in front of someone else, remembering public criticism
  • Others attacking your integrity
  • Being reminded of something wrong, immoral or “shameful” you did in the past
  • Being rejected or criticised for something you expected praise for
  • Having emotions/experiences that have been invalidated
  • Exposure of a very private aspect of yourself or your life
  • Exposure of a physical characteristic you dislike
  • Failing at something you feel you are (or should be) competent to do

According to Fessler (2004), the function of shame is to regulate social systems and hierarchies. In fact, he speculates that shame is responsible for the aversive effects of social rejection and may ultimately be responsible for encouraging the maintenance of social norms. What does shame mean to you? Something to ponder on today.

References : https://i.pinimg.com/originals/53/96/36/539636b6d9efe2fe24daee861cdbfc1c.jpg

34 Comments Add yours

  1. Definitely. I feel ashamed when I am not able to function or deliver what I am expected to do or accomlish. And I do feel ashamed when I do something wrong.

    I guess, shame is governed by the norms of the society too as dictated by cultural practices and norms.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. GS says:

      You and I have one life to live. But few of us step into manifesting the full expression of who we were designed to be. Why? Because of the fear that being seen and heard for who we really are will result in rejection; not because of what we have or haven’t done, but rejection of our very personhood. You see, it’s one thing to feel as though you’ve not done enough. But it’s a greater tragedy to feel as though you aren’t enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loku says:

    Since my childhood, I was a shy child but when I grew older I understand the people and issues. Now, I am confident.

    You can add one more word to this series on shame that is ‘Boldness’. Thank you 🙂.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. GS says:

      That’s a great suggestion Loku. Thank you. Changing destructive behaviors requires trying out new, affirming behaviors to replace them. New behaviors that generate positive feedback and reward create new connections in the brain, creating the momentum for ongoing growth and change. (Learning on a neurobehavioral level).

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Singhshma says:

    **and feeling as if you do not love up to that standard (*live up to that standard?) This post is so appropriate for what I’m going through. Thank the heavens for blessing me 💖 💖 Was this intentional? love-live? I’m interpreting this as a reminder to love myself even when I think I make mistakes because there’s always an opportunity to help others. Whether you intended to type live or love my heart is full seeing your post. God is protecting me. I will need this series. My well of shame is deep and I need to heal

    Liked by 5 people

    1. GS says:

      When we are shamed repeatedly, we are taught to think that our feelings are wrong and our experiences are delusive. Whether this happens as a child or as an adult, the result is the same: if there is no one compassionate and perceptive enough to acknowledge the validity of our stories on a repeat basis, then we too are challenged to see them as true. We learn to distrust ourselves; we learn to deny our own truth, even to ourselves. Transforming this mindset requires a witness with a willingness to look and listen in a most powerful way—by seeing, feeling and believing.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Singhshma says:

        🙏💔💔🤕😭😭

        Liked by 2 people

      2. GS says:

        We will get over this…yes we will.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Singhshma says:

    The prev comment you can publish or not publish. Thank you so much for this post

    I’ve experienced everything on your list 💔I live here. I have not just a tent in the land of shame but a 5 bedroom mortgage. I won’t be able to escape it. I can’t think about it too much because I fall to pieces. I will need this series. Thank you 💖

    Liked by 4 people

    1. GS says:

      Breathe girl…small steps..just breathe for today..focus on breathing today for no reason

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Dragthepen says:

      I am currently reading a book on shame and the trauma it causes.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. GS says:

        Wow…do share the title and author please..if that’s okay

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Dragthepen says:

        The Gifts if Imperfection, Been Brown, Ph. D , L. M. S. W. She is a shame researcher

        Liked by 3 people

      3. GS says:

        Thank you. I will try to get my hands on this book.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Singhshma says:

        Okay thanks for replying to my comment. What book is it?

        Liked by 2 people

  5. the greatvincent says:

    Well…shame is an obstacle in life one has to pass through like growing up…crawl before you walk

    Liked by 3 people

    1. GS says:

      You can break the cycle. It will take patience and time, but the more you make a conscious and concerted effort, the more likely you will be able to end the cycle of shame and self-destructive behavior.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Carol anne says:

    I hate feeling shame! It feels so awful! xo

    Liked by 3 people

    1. GS says:

      Everyone can break the cycle of shame — even when the odds seem insurmountable. The first step is recognizing how shame is fueling your self-destructive behaviors and acknowledge the shame. It’s okay to have flaws — we all do, because every one of us is human and deeply flawed. 🙂 Carol you are loved…remember that.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Carol anne says:

        I will, and thank you 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      2. GS says:

        Most welcome!!!

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Smita Ray says:

    For your ethnicity, gender, race, colour, body shaming many forms. Many a times a person is shamed because he/she is thriving, getting what I couldn’t or can’t. Or the person is not being punished or shamed for what I was punished, shamed, humiliated, forced to accept, reconcile etc. The fact is you could be shamed for anything. Just anything.

    I think it’s the projection of feeling less than or derogated to the targeted person. So that the other person feels less, belittled or deserving of punishment. Just like the one who feels great about oneself empowers and encourages another person. It totally makes sense that where a particular sect of the society, say class or gender feels derogated or deprived of their rights, shaming prevails and generation after generation it might even become a norm.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. GS says:

      Shame is a learned behavior from when a person was a child, growing up in an environment where shame was taught, sometimes inadvertently, by parents and others in the child’s life. Shame is often used as a tool to change a child’s problematic behaviors. When used sparingly, it may help with reducing those kinds of behaviors. However, when used too much, a child learns to internalize shame. That is, they learn that being shameful is a part of their self-identity. At that point, it becomes far more difficult for the person to just “let go” of shame.

      Self-destructive behaviors are those things a person does in their life that actually cause harm, whether emotionally, physically, or psychologically. For instance, a person who is ashamed of their low-paying job may drink a lot every evening to try and “forget” their employment status. The next morning, the person isn’t feeling 100 percent, and therefore continues to perform poorly in the job, relegating them to that type of job until they change their behavior. It can be a vicious cycle if not addressed.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Shame is part of what Carl Jung called “the shadow-self’ and working with your shadow to learn to forgive yourself is essential for the whole person. We are beings of light but we have two sides in the human experience and we must acknowledge both, forgive and learn to love both. ❤👩‍🦰🧡🦊💛

    Liked by 3 people

    1. GS says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Forgiveness is important to the healing process since it allows you to let go of the anger, guilt, shame, sadness, or any other feeling you may be experiencing, and move on. Once you identify what you’re feeling, give a voice to it and accept that mistakes are inevitable.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you as always for your wisdom, Garima. ❤👩‍🦰🧡

        Liked by 2 people

      2. GS says:

        Most welcome Carolyn. I am glad you agree with my words.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. GS says:

      People experience shame for a number of reasons. Shame is often felt when someone experiences, commits, or associates with a shameful act. Perhaps the most common precursor of shame is trauma. When something terrible happens to a person, they often feel a great deal of shame over what happened. Shame is also experienced by people who commit reprehensible crimes, live in addiction, or experience stigmatized mental illness.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. GS says:

      Thank you for the reblog

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Always a pleasure to share your posts with followers, Dear! Hope you are having a great day!
        xoxox 😘💕🎁🌹

        Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.