Shame is a complex emotion
In addition to this acute form of shame, shame can also manifest itself on a deeper level of your existence. Shame is one of the most complex emotions there is. Because what exactly is shame? Where does that shame come from? And what function does it have in our lives? Shame is also really a taboo subject, because who do you dare to tell about your feelings of shame? Shame is lonely. We can be ashamed of our shame.
Shame hinders you in your desires
Perhaps you would like to change something about your body or you are convinced that you are lacking in some way. Perhaps you keep your social background a secret or you are reserved about sexuality. Those are obvious symptoms of shame, but shame is much more. It may cause you to achieve less in your profession than may be expected on the basis of your abilities and to fail in other areas as well.
That you find it difficult to fulfill your desires. Shame is the trigger for recurring conflicts in relationships and can cause you to hold onto harmful relationships. Shame hinders real intimacy. It paralyzes zest for life, lust, and self-expression. It can make you physically ill and affect your mental health.
Confirmation, connection, and painful experiences
In our early development, shame has an important function in the connection between mother and baby and in the confirmation from your parents that you can be there as a child. You could say that it belongs to the basic equipment of man. If you don’t get that confirmation or not enough or if you have experiences that reinforce your feelings of shame in you as a child, it can leave deep impressions that affect your adult life.
Francis Weller, an American psychologist, puts it this way: ‘This is how trauma merges with shame. We see the inability of others to deal with us appropriately as children when we have experienced something painful as evidence that we are essentially evil and have not deserved the embrace of love.’
A toxic emotion
While shame for babies and children is still an essential emotion, shame for adults has become an inhibiting emotion. It has been described as an unpleasant self-conscious emotion usually accompanied by negative self-esteem. Shame is a contraction, a blockage of energy, needs, vitality, self-expression and much more. It evokes feelings of fear, exposure, mistrust, powerlessness and worthlessness.
Shame determines how we shape our lives and whether we can live them to the fullest. When people feel ashamed, they are no longer able to behave the way they would like. Shame can become the foundation of your self-image. It has gradually transformed from an essential emotion into a toxic one.
Treasure digging in shame
We pay little attention to the deeper layers of shame, while this has a lot to say to us. It is this form of shame that people often overlook as the greatest source of their pain in their quest for healing. If we check this with ourselves and dare to look honestly at our own feelings of shame, a lot can come to the fore. Shame can bind you to unprocessed experiences from the past and thereby blocks your mental, emotional and also spiritual growth.
It is one of the great tasks for us as human beings to face our shame and free ourselves from it. When you find yourself feeling restricted, the source could be a shame. How beautiful it is to discover what unsuspected potential lurks in shame. When you dare to look behind the mask of your shame, you will recognize there who you really are. It takes a little courage and above all, being kind to yourself. When you manage to break free of shame step by step, it will feel lighter in all sorts of ways.
Exercise: ‘I am ashamed of this’
You can explore your own shame themes in a journal or by keeping a journal about them, for example in the Inspirational Life Journal .
- Take your diary in front of you and write at the top of the first page, “I am ashamed of this.”
- Note everything below:
- Where you don’t feel comfortable.
- With which you disagree.
- What else you want.
- What you reject or even hate about yourself.
- If you can’t think of anything, write down what you envy others (for example, your neighbors, co-workers, siblings). Envy arises when we don’t consider ourselves or our life good enough.
- Rate each of these themes from 1 to 10, where 1 represents ‘a little’ and 10 represents ‘very strong’. This indicates to what extent you feel limited in the area concerned. That might look like this:
- I’m too fat… 4
- I earn less than my colleagues for the same work… 8.
- When I speak, I stutter… 6.
Common shame themes include:
- Body, condition and health
- Social origin
- Current social status/financial situation
- Talents, Abilities and Abilities
- Sexuality and Sexual Preference
- Profession and success
- Self image
When you’re done with your list, read it one more time and notice how you react to it internally. If one of your thoughts comes to mind, “Actually, it’s quite okay,” or, “Oh dear, I’m actually a wreck” or, “Pooh, I’m making life pretty hard,” write down these moods, feelings, or judgments as well.