Shame is the most destructive emotion out of all. In shame there is no love, no kindness, and no compassion - neither for self, nor others. You struggle and strive 24/7 to live upto the expectation of others. When not driven to compensate by perfectionism, people in shame hang their heads and slink away, wishing they were invisible.

Some Shame-based individuals compensate by perfectionism and rigidity, and often become driven and intolerant. Notorious examples of this are the moral extremists who form vigilante groups, projecting their own unconscious shame onto others whom they then feel justified in righteously attacking or killing.

Shame is also used as a tool of cruelty, and its victims often become cruel themselves. Shamed children are cruel to animals and cruel to each other. The behavior of people whose consciousness is steeped in shame are prone to hallucinations of an accusatory nature, as well as paranoia; some become psychotic or commit bizarre crimes.


Shame is accompanied by autonomic reactions such as blushing, sweating, and increased heart rate. The reason that the autonomic nervous system is triggered by shame suggests that shame is interpreted by the brain as a crisis response, a perceived threat that evokes the fight or flight response. When in crisis, the higher faculty of consciousness stops working.

We live in a system and society that’s based on shame. Shame is the basis of what goes on in the system, including our family dynamics, social environment and educational system. We know that shame is a powerful force that motivates behavior, so we use shame to punish others in order to get them to do what we want. Shame is the glue that holds us together. We get together with other like minded people to plot and plan how we can humiliate, disgrace, and poison the environment against others. A shame based system poisons our soul, and makes us lose our true identity.

As mentioned above, a person with a shame based identity has an intense desire to inflict pain, suffering, or humiliation onto others in the hopes of deriving pleasure from it, in the process as thought; or when the actions are successful. Rejection, exclution, stigmatisation, divorce, abandonment, banishment, and excommunication are tactics used liberaly to make others feel small and insignificant, while personally feeling superior and powerful about ourselves.


Children develop their feelings about themselves according to the way their parents respond to their needs. The feelings of toxic relational shame are stored in the unconscious, where those messages continue to have an impact on their lives. Once the shame feelings have been triggered, we move into a cycle of shame in which we lock on to a particular behavior to protect ourselves from further shaming. We may defend ourselves, argue, or withdraw from others. All of these protective behaviors perpetuate the shame cycle.

Children who grow up in dysfunctional families and societies, such as a material oriented one we live in, receive messages of toxic shame on a daily basis. Because they are children, they have normal needs and desires to be held, to be emotionally nurtured, to be given the opportunity to explore and ask questions, and to be allowed to test boundaries and establish their own identities. Yet these needs often are unmet in dysfunctional families. Worse, children in dysfunctional families often receive punishment, or are shamed because they have these needs.

Like most other trauma, shame is experienced as being timeless. It is always experienced as happening right now. The voice of shame has no interest your development, progress, and happiness. It is only interested in condemning. To have shame as an identity is to believe that one’s being is flawed as a human being: inferior, no good, dirty, unlovable, incompetent, don’t measure up. Once shame is transformed into an identity, it becomes toxic and dehumanizing (life-destroying). It necessitates a cover-up, a false self. Once one becomes a false self, one ceases to exist psychologically.

To have a ‘false self’ is to cease being an authentic human being, because as a false self, one tries to be more than human or less than human. This results in a lifetime of cover-up and secrecy. It divides us from ourselves and from others. The authentic self goes into hiding. Years later the layers of defense and pretense are so intense that one loses all awareness of who one really is. The demand for a false self to cover and hide the authentic self necessitates a life dominated by shame based anxiety.


Unlike the fear of known danger, which we can do something about, anxiety is apprehension about a future threat. It's worry about not being able to preserve our well-being when the time arrives. And since the future and imagined threat is unknown, the mind goes round and round, conjuring up all types of dreaded possibilities. This shame anxiety makes us self-conscious and hyper-vigilant about being exposed to the judgement of others, rejection, or derision.

A common reaction in shame based anxiety is our sensitivity to hearing criticism of others or feeling anxious about seeing someone in a situation where there is a possibility that they may end up embarrassing themselves. For example watching someone on reality TV and feeling so anxious that you feel the strong urge to switch channels.

Toxic shame also wears the face of grandiosity. It can appear as narcissistic self-enlargement or worm like helplessness. Each extreme refuses to be human. Each exaggerates: one is more than human; the other is less than human. To be shame-bound means that whenever you feel any feeling, any need or any drive, you immediately feel ashamed. Internalized shame is the essence of codependency. It is the core and fuel of all addiction.

Another person, circumstance, or situation can trigger shame in you, but so can a failure to meet your own ideals or standards whether or not they are valid. Given that shame can lead you to feel as though your whole self is flawed, bad, or subject to exclusion, it makes you want to withdraw, hide yourself, or lash out. In extreme cases it can lead to suicide.

Some common shame-based thoughts and beliefs can be:

I'm unlovable. I'm nothing. I'm a failure. I'm unwanted. I'm disgusting (or impure, dirty). I'm a bad person. I'm undeserving of happiness and deserving of punishment. I shouldn't have been born. I'm a fraud. I don't measure up. I'm flawed.

Making notes of when these feelings arise, and then substituting them with self-compassionate interventions is a must for transcending a shame based identity. You can read, take courses, and debate as much as possible but no change will transpire until you begin to identify and writing down the thoughts, emotions, and intentions. It is a life long commitment to this practice that will create a life filled with love, beauty, and joy. There is no other way.


As pointed out by David. R. Hawkins in his evolutionary book Power vs Force, Shame is the master emotion that is the lowest amongst all emotions within the evolutionary human consciousness.

Regardless of how much abuse we were subjected to, we cannot blame people or our system for how our lives turned out. Our issues depend not on how we were treated, but how we decided to respond to how we were treated. Because blaming will keep the system and cycle of shame breathing and alive. It will be a barrier to our realizing compassion for self and others.

Because of shame we lost our identity. Our experiences now gives us an opportunity to get to know who we really are. It is an exciting journey of self discovery and self actualization. It we are stuck in the blame game then we will never take the necessary steps needed to give our life direction and purpose. You have it in you to break the chains that have held you captive in the prison of suffering. Now you can be the change you’ve always wanted to see in the world.

Shame Related Feelings


Feeling embarrassed or distressed as a result of a failure. This can lead to a state of vexation if experience that is interpreted as failure continues. When feeling like a failure you become self-critical. All the negativity that accompanies the failure mindset, is a serious drain on motivation.


The authentic self goes into hiding. Depending on what is being experienced, the person may shrink and hide away or act in a manner that is grandiose. It may seem that the person is displaying traits of narcissism but in reality the individual is scarred and is trying to act in a grandiose manner to deflect what they perceive others may be thinking of them.


It describes the conflict of emotional feelings that a person will have after realizing a wrong action. It does not mean remorse. Remorse requires the willingness to make amends. Sometimes it takes a lifetime for people to get from guilt to remorse.


Inability to influence the environment. You acknowledge your negative situation and feel that you do not have the skill or capacity to influence change at the preset time. But you do acknowledge that it can be changed. There is hope.


Inability to manage, direct, or empower oneself and unable to act or react to a negative situation. A person believes that they have no control over what is happening or what their situation is. Here there is no chance of things changing in the future; no hope.


A personality disturbance characterized by an inability to cope with the social, emotional, occupational, and intellectual demands of life. Research shows that inadequacy often leads to aggression among people who are in power because their Ego gets threateaned in the presence of a subordinate who is smarter then them.


Viewing oneself of being unable to acquire a certain skill or position in life. This can be a result of repeated attempts in the past that were not successful. The person was then criticized for the unsuccessful attempts by others.


Feeling like all eyes are on you, and experiencing blushing, trembling, nausea, profuse sweating, or difficulty talking. These symptoms can be so disruptive sometimes, that they make it hard to meet new people, maintain relationships, and advance at work or in school.


Flawed to the degree where one feels undeserving of love and affection. Also the person feels that they are incapable of inspiring love. This is a state of feeling helpless and is rooted in shame.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Theodore Roosevelt
  2. 1) Power vs Force, David Hawkins
  3. 2) Jeff VanVonderen: “Uncovering Shame” and “Wounded by Shame Healed by Grace”
  4. 3) Dr Paul Gilbert and Choden: Mindful Compassion
  5. 4) Conquering Shame and Codependency, Darlene Lancer
  6. 5) Lewis, Helen: The Role of Shame in Symptom Formation. 1987
  7. 6) Schore, Allan: Affect Dysregulation and Disorders of the Self. 2003
  8. 7) Tangney & Dearing: Shame and Guilt. 2002.
  9. 8) James and Galbraith, 1985
  10. 9) John Elliot Bradshaw