What is the meaning of shame and how to deal with shame. Welcome to our little piece of real estate on the internet. In this article, you are going to find out all about shame. I hope that you will be able to set your mind at rest about, and dispel, any confusion or questions that you may have about shame.
Shame is a painful emotion because it makes you deny yourself one of the most important of human needs: belonging. When you feel shame, any sense of separation and worthlessness that you may have are amplified. Also, this can lead to feeling of despair, depression and hopelessness.
It is my hope that this article will point you in the right direction, to understand the meaning of shame and how to deal with shame and self-criticism that may occur on your journey through life. Whether you are experiencing chronic shame, or another type of shame, these feelings are not helpful and can lead to you developing or reinforcing negative beliefs about yourself.
Shame, with guilt, represents the lowest vibrational energy that you can exhibit. When you struggle with shame, you are at your lowest ebb. Other conditions can mainifest if you dont take corrective action. These include depression, social anxiety disorder and a belief that you are not worthy of love. This can make you want to curl up in a ball because you think “I did something bad.” Once you come to understand the meaning of shame and learn to deal with shame you can move forward in your life.
What are Different Types of Shame and How Do You Identify and Deal with Shame?
In order to understand the meaning of shame and how to deal with shame, it is helpful to understand the different causes of shame. At its root, shame makes you feel disconnected from your peers. Generally, when you feel shame, it is the result of guilt about your actions or actions done to you.
Shame will cause you to feel worthless, anxious and depressed. Shame can have various causes.
Some broad categories of shame are:
- Shame caused by abuse.
- Shame caused by constant humiliation.
- Shame caused by being body dysmorphic.
- Shame caused by your own unacceptable behavior.
- Toxic Shame.
Physical Signs of Shame.
A person exhibiting physical signs of being ashamed, may avoid eye contact. For example, they may have poor posture. Their speech may appear to lack confidence. Typically, you would hide your shame for fear of judgment, punishment from others, or, worst of all, being ostracized from your community, or your social circle. Shame can also result when you are self-conscious or feel ashamed of who you are. You may internalize this self-conscious emotion, you feel small, you feel less, and over time your self-esteem plummets. Try not to let your thoughts and feelings get the better of you.
It is important to isolate the origins of shame. If you feel shame, it doesn’t mean that you are a bad person. You may have done something that made you think that you were not being your best self, but you must realize that past actions can’t be changed. So don’t dwell on the past, process your feelings and move on. You can only decide to choose differently in future.
The most important thing that you can do to help yourself, is to take control of your thought process. Shame arises to tell you that you may need to modify your behaviour to acceptable norms. However, abusive people may try to shame you into behaving the way they want you to. Whether or not you decide to modify your behaviour is up to you. That decision should be based on your own core values.
Toxic shame is a situation where your internalized shame causes negative thoughts to loop endlessly. Your self-esteem and beliefs about yourself are negatively affected. This can lead to deeper issues and even illness. Ruminating over past actions is not helpful to your thoughts or your health. In this situation, you need to focus on what action you can take to change circumstances and your behavior, so you do not trigger shame in future by repeating the mistakes of the past.
Getting Professional Advice.
If you think you are suffering from toxic shame, and you dont appear to be able to change your thought process, it may be time to seek professional advice. If you consult your healthcare professional, they will be able to advise you on the best course of action.
Now that we have covered the meaning of shame, we need to understand how to deal with shame.
What are the Impacts of Shame on Your Brain?
Feelings of shame originate in the pregenual anterior cingulated cortex. This area of the brain is involved in processing your emotions and plays a role in depression. Your rection to your shame is then triggered in the amygdala; the fight, flight or freeze centre in the primal portion of the brain.
If your reaction is to fight, you become defensive about your shame and this can lead to aggression. Alternatively, if your reaction is flight, you will want to hide away from your surroundings and even remove yourself from the environment that triggers your thoughts of shame. However, if your response is to freeze, you do nothing and hope the problem goes away.
Whatever the reponse triggered by the amygdala, it is important to understand that this is instinctual. There is no reasoned thought process behind this initial reaction, which comes from ancient times. When threats were more primal ancient man needed to react quickly to survive.
In modern times, you generally don’t need to act so instinctively and you can afford the luxury of pausing, thinking about the best cause of action using your reasoning brain, and then taking considered action to improve the situation you find ourselves confronting.
When you feel shame, the feeling in your body can be similar to the sensations you feel when you feel guilt. The sensations of guilt and shame are similar but the thought process is slightly different. The same areas of the brain are involved, more or less, with either.
Is shame the most painful emotion?
When you experience shame, it normally feels like a gnawing feeling in your stomach. It can be extremely painful because it makes you anticipate a threat to the most basic of human needs, the need to belong and feel safe. Also shame makes you feel unworthy of the support of others and heightens any feelings of separation, abandonment and fear of rejection.
Shame and pride are different aspects of the same emotional state. If you have unhealthy pride, you see yourself as better than you really are; and better than others. With shame you see yourself as less than you really are, and compare yourself as being less than others. Sometimes pride is a cover for shame, a kind of thought process that seeks to divert attention from how inadequate you think you are, by boosting your image to others.
Unfortunately, this rarely works for you. People are generally quite perceptive and their instincts will tell them that something is not quite right here. This leads to an intensification of the pride response, which inevitably has the same result as feelings of shame increase, when people keep their distance.
Shame can be one of the most painful emotions because it can take over your thought process completely, if you allow it to. It has been said that the most destructive thing known to creation is a negative thought that is allowed to fester. A negative thought ruminated over in this way can be likened to a virus, it takes over your whole focus of attention and suppresses your immune system, by flooding your body with adrenalin and cortisol.
How do you respond to the effects of shame?
When you respond to shame it is important that you realize that you are not your thoughts and emotions. The real you, who is in there, is conscious awareness, a part of the universal mind. Your thoughts, emotions and relationships are created by you so that You, as awareness, can experience through your body and your life.
Your shame, at its base, is an awareness of yourself as a separate person within a physical world. This is ego convincing you that you are your body. This is not the truth, you have allowed you ego to limit you to a body with thoughts and emotions.
Emotions and Experience
Emotions are supposed to be linked to experiences for a short period of time only, not permanently. The purpose of this link is for you, as conscious awareness, to experience and learn, then to let the emotion go. As you let the emotion go it does not stick to the memory of experience.
Your experience is neither good nor bad, other than the meaning you perceive it to have. Perception and judgment are an imperfect way of observing experience as they rely on the past as a source of reference to evaluate the present.
As perfect awareness, you have a deep knowing that experience, when it combines with any emotion, is an opportunity for development. An opportunity for you to choose better in the future.
Having compassion and empathy for yourself is essential to overcome shame. You are probably your most ardent critic; you may find that you do not forgive yourself, even if others do. This is counterproductive because, by forgiving yourself, you break the energetic ties to your feelings of shame and allow yourself to think differently about yourself.
Can you allow yourself to be imperfect, a work in progress? Allow yourself the opportunity to let go of your shame and choose better actions in your life.
You should not make the mistake of thinking that you can act any differently than you do. That is who you are at that instant in time.
By observing and deciding to evolve, you use your feelings of shame to grow. So show yourself empathy and forgiveness, by all means allow your shame to be; acknowledge it, feel it and let it go. Allow yourself to love your imperfections and move on.
How do you Overcome shame?
When you experience shame, your natural reaction is to repress, or suppress it. You may try to hide your shame; or look to others for validation. Your shame will prevent any self-validation because of your feelings of low self-worth.
Treating your shame in this way, will cause it to become trapped in your energetic system. This causes people and experiences to be attracted to you that lead to more shame; this cycle will continue until released.
In fact, this cycle of shame is how trapped emotions try to come back up to the surface of your awareness. This allows you to process them in a positive way and let them go.
There are several important aspects to releasing shame.
Firstly it is important to accept your shame. Acknowledge your feelings of shame and let them be.
Secondly, as you let your feelings be, allow yourself to feel the emotions. This can be painful but it is a necessary part of experience. Allowing yourself to feel emotion allows it to intensify, reach its peak and subside. As the emotion subsides, acknowledge the lesson you have learned with gratitude. Then release and let the shame go.
Practicing compassion towards yourself provides a contrasting inner voice, which you can use to silence the inner critic provided by your ego. This compassion towards yourself will teach you that it is okay to put yourself first, instead of putting others first.
As discussed above, how you handle your thoughts and automatic reactions will determine how well you handle any proneness to shame. Allowing emotions to be felt and let go is important, but so is developing a plan of action to stop feelings of shame.
When your feelings of shame arise, your instinctual reaction of fight flight or freeze want to kick in. Try to avoid this by pausing – Just stop.
Asking the Right Questions.
Tune in to your reasoning brain and start asking questions to get to what is the meaning of shame and how to deal with shame, questions like:
- Have you done anything wrong?
- Are you in alignment with your core values?
- Is this person trying to get me to do something I don’t want to do?
- Is what this person wants me to do in line with my core values?
- Why do I feel these emotions of shame?
These questions will give you context for the situation and allow you to decide whether your shame is justified, or the result of an attepmt to manipulate you.
How are You Going to Act
Once you have decided what you believe are the relevant facts around the situation you find yourself in, you can decide how you want ot act.
If you think that you have done something wrong, you can take steps to remedy the situation. You might want to give an apology, and you may decide to choose to act differently in future. It is not possible to change the past, but you can decide to accept the situation and be a better version of yourself next time.
If you come to the conclusion that someone is trying to manipulate you, you may decide to assert yourself in an appropriate way. Alternatively, you may decide to remove yourself from the situation you find yourself in. This is not running away, this is a decision you have come to as the result of considered thought.
This thought process makes you focus on a solution and subsequent action. When your brain is working in this way, it cant simultaneously ruminate over thoughts of shame. This allows your emotions to be processed and let go while you are busy taking action to make things better.
In this way, you change from destructive to constructive thought patterns. So that you can move your emotional state from shame and guilt, to acceptance and courage.
What is the Difference Between Shame and Guilt? (Shame vs Guilt).
Shame, at its basic level is the thought about who you are, your self esteem, or the self worth that you identify with. Guilt, on the other hand is the emotional response to how you feel about your actions. There can be a relationship between shame and guilt. Your guilt about your actions in a past situation, can cause you to conclude that you acted in that way because you are a worthless person. This feeling of being worthless and comparing yourself to others is a feeling of shame.
The amount of shame you feel because of your feelings of guilt will depend on your level of self esteem and self worth.
You may have feelings of guilt and no feelings of shame, or your guilt may further feed feelings of inadequacy around who you are as a person and deepen your sense of shame.
Some quotes about The Meaning of Shame and How to Deal With Shame.
“If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”– Dr. Brene Brown.
“Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.”– Benjamin Franklin.
“The predator wants your silence. It feeds their power, entitlement, and they want it to feed your shame.” – Viola Davis.– Viola Davis.
“Guilt is just as powerful, but its influence is positive, while shame’s is destructive. Shame erodes our courage and fuels disengagement.”– Dr. Brene Brown.
“An exciting and inspiring future awaits you beyond the noise in your mind, beyond the guilt, doubt, fear, shame, insecurity and heaviness of the past you carry around.”– Debbie Ford.
“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”– Howard Zinn.
“What do you regard as most humane? To spare someone shame.”– Friedrich Nietz
“Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.”– Brene Brown.
“I will not allow anyone to shut me up or shame me into silence, and I’m not going to rot away behind closed doors.”– Yolanda Hadid.
The Meaning of Healthy Shame and Toxic Shame.
Now that you understand the meaning of shame and how to deal with shame. It is time to look at the contrast between healthy and toxic shame. As can be seen above, there are various kinds of shame. Most notable to describe, are the types at opposite ends of the scale: healthy shame and toxic shame.
Healthy shame is an appropriate feeling of shame, that tells you that you have done something wrong and you need to make amends. In this instance, you acknowledge your wrongdoing, take action to remedy the situation, accept that you can’t undo what you did, choose to be better in future and move on.
Once this string of actions has been put in place, there is no emotional overhang of shame which gnaws at your thoughts. In this case you don’t allow the inappropriate actions that led to shame to define you. Your self-esteem and self-image is not affected by your mistake. You understand that we all make mistakes, and we are all trying to be the best that we can be. If you are subjected to blame or abuse, you realize that these reactions say more about the people making them, than saying anything about you.
Toxic shame, by contrast, is a more devastating experience. The actions may be the same as you experienced when healthy shame was described, but your thought process, reactions and the consequent results are quite different. Your instinctual brain takes over and your fight flight or freeze response initiates before you can stop it. You allow your past actions to define what type of person you are.
Your thoughts are of the consequences of your action. You allow any blame or abuse directed towards you to determine your thoughts about yourself. All of this ruminates endlessly in your thoughts, and you believe all of the bad things you think about yourself. As a result, you become paralyzed, unable to take any positive action and you internalize all of these bad thoughts about yourself, that you and others have made up. The person you have become thinks that they don’t deserve to be loved or that happiness is possible.
From this discussion it is clear that your control over your thoughts is key to stopping the natural action of healthy shame and feeling guilty about something from getting out of control. Once control is lost there is the potential for shame to spiral out of control into toxic shame, which will inevitably have a negative impact on your life. It is the control you have over your thoughts that determines whether shame will be a positive or negative experience for you.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Meaning of Shame and How to Deal with Shame.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the impacts of shame. As you read throught these questions, you will be able to see the types of questions behind shame. As you can see, there quite a number of people who search for an understanding of their feelings of shame and look for help. This should make you realize that you are not alone, if you are struggling with thoughts of shame, or toxic shame is affecting your feelings of self worth.
Q. What is the difference between shame and guilt?
A. Shame and guilt are often confused, but they are distinct emotions. Guilt is the feeling of remorse or regret over a specific action or behavior, whereas shame is a painful emotion related to feeling inadequate, flawed, or unworthy as a person. Guilt is about what you did, while shame is about who you believe you are as a result of your actions.
Q. What are the impacts of shame on individuals?
A. Shame can have a profound negative impact on your life. It may lead to low self-esteem, social anxiety disorder, and chronic shame. People struggling with shame, might experience shame-related negative beliefs, self-criticism, and internalized shame. High levels of shame can also hinder personal growth and relationships, making you feel unworthy of love and acceptance.
Q. How can I deal with shame effectively?
A. Dealing with shame involves acknowledging and understanding the shame you feel. Identifying shame triggers and sources can help you gain insight into the origins of shame in the first place. Opening up to others and seeking support can be helpful in overcoming shame. Additionally, challenging negative beliefs associated with shame and practicing self-compassion are essential steps towards healing.
Q. What is toxic shame, and how does it differ from healthy shame?
A. Toxic shame is an intense and pervasive form of shame that becomes internalized, leading to a chronic sense of being fundamentally flawed and unworthy. Healthy shame, on the other hand, is a natural emotion that alerts you to your mistakes and helps you learn from them. While healthy shame can be a constructive force for growth, toxic shame is a destructive and long-lasting burden.
Q. What are some common causes of shame?
A. Shame can arise from various sources, including traumatic experiences, societal expectations, family dynamics, and cultural norms. Experiencing repeated criticism or judgment and being subjected to humiliating situations can also trigger shame. Additionally, certain personality traits, such as high proneness to shame, can make you more susceptible to experiencing shame.
Q. What are the different types of shame?
A. There are many different types of shame, including external shame, which involves feeling shame due to the judgment or criticism of others, and internal shame, which arises from negative self-perception. Another type of shame is social shame, triggered by perceived social disapproval. Chronic shame is a persistent form of shame that can impact your overall well-being.
Q. How can I overcome toxic shame?
A. Overcoming toxic shame requires self-awareness and self-compassion. Acknowledge and identify the toxic shame you experience, and seek professional support if needed. Challenge negative beliefs and thoughts associated with shame and replace them with more positive and realistic perspectives. Opening up to supportive individuals and practicing self-acceptance are crucial steps towards overcoming toxic shame.
Q. How does shame impact individuals with social anxiety disorder?
A. Shame and social anxiety disorder often go hand in hand. People with social anxiety disorder might experience shame related to their perceived social inadequacies or fears of judgment. This shame can lead to avoidance of social situations, exacerbating the anxiety and hindering social interactions and personal growth.
Q. How does shame affect our relationships with others?
A. Shame can have a negative impact on your relationships by causing you to withdraw emotionally, avoid vulnerability, and struggle with intimacy. Shame can make you feel unworthy of love and connection, leading to difficulties in forming and maintaining healthy relationships. It is essential to address shame in relationships and practice open communication and empathy.
Q. What are some ways to cope with shame?
A. There are various ways to cope with shame effectively. Practice self-compassion and challenge negative self-talk associated with shame. Engage in therapy, or counseling, to address underlying issues and process shame-related emotions. Mindfulness techniques and self-reflection can also help you identify shame triggers and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
Q. Can shame be turned into a positive force?
A. In some cases, shame can be transformed into a positive force. Healthy shame, when acknowledged and learned from, can lead to personal growth and improved behavior. It can motivate you to make amends, learn from mistakes, and become more empathetic and compassionate toward others.
Remember, coping with shame is a personal journey, and seeking professional guidance can be beneficial, if you find it difficult to navigate this process alone. Be patient and kind with yourself as you go through this transformative process.
Last Words About the Meaning of Shame and How to Deal with Shame.
I hope that this piece has given you comfort and a deeper understanding of the tragic effects of shame. This emotion is one that will deceive you into denying your true nature as pure conscious awareness. You ego tricks you into shameful feelings and a limited mindset of low self esteem. This happens when you are convinced to believe that you are your body, thoughts, emotions and relationships.
In truth, you are a spark of the divine, a co-creator of your reality, but perhaps you have lost your way and need to be reminded of who you really are in there.
My message to you is that I see you and your greatness; and I acknowledge you as a mirror of the all that is.
I want to share with you an extract from my award-winning book: “Hit Refresh Now – 7 Easy Steps to Overcoming Your Limiting Beliefs”.
“I Love You Enough
If you imagined yourself as an angel in heaven looking down on the person that you experience being in the material world, what would be your feelings towards that person?
Would you love them enough to want to help them when they are lost?
and would you love them enough to be able to show them that everything will be okay?
Similarly, would you love them enough to help them overcome the negative influences and programming of the material world?
and would you love them enough to help them understand what is real and what is illusion, what is temporary and what is permanent?
Would you love them enough to allow them to learn for themselves?
Lastly would you love them enough to never leave them alone?
Of course you would.
So just tell yourself
“I love you enough to do all of these things and more”.”
With all my love.
I hope that you now understand the meaning of shame and how to deal with shame.
Richard H Morris.
Nothing in this post should be interpreted as any form of professional advice. The content herein is provided for information and entertainment purposes only, and merely reflects the research done and opinions expressed by the Author. We do make use of affiliate links in our content, should you decide to buy something through one of our links we will receive a commission at no additional cost to the Purchaser.