Understanding Shame

Learn how to recover from the effects of toxic shame and reclaim your vibrancy, self-esteem, resilience, and self-reliance.

About Shame

Brené Brown brought shame, the underpinning of all emotions and limiting beliefs onto the mainstage. Her research and academic understanding of Shame is nonpareil. Previously, the subject of Shame was not even part of the curriculum in the study of psychology. While she provides a cognitive understanding of shame as a researcher, it's important to note that healing toxic shame also requires a physiological approach.

Shame is a ubiquitous human experience. It is used in every culture to socialize children and to protect the tribe. Our physiological reaction to shame helps us to maintain the interpersonal bridges that are imperative for our survival. It not only increases the likelihood of being embraced by and remaining a part of the tribe, but it teaches us how to thrive in community. Without healthy shame, we would lack the self-awareness of our own limitations, have no moral compass and there would be no rule of law. During the pre-verbal, precognitive and pre-conceptual stages of early development, rejection and abandonment equates with death. Shame is an instinctual survival response to a nearly impossible situation. Shame’s function is to lower affect and thereby reduce the risk of falling out of favor with the care-provider. Shame also binds old wounds and grief to the present moment and influences most of our thoughts and behaviors.

Symptoms of Shame

  • Shyness
  • Progress followed by pull-back
  • Lack of confidence
  • Regret
  • Social anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling defeated
  • A sense of futility
  • Self-sabotage
  • Perfectionism
  • Fear of incompetence
  • Fear of being seen or not heard
  • Vicious cycles
  • Habituated patterns
  • Addictions
  • Self-harm
  • Eating disorders

Like other developmental trauma, Shame also informs how we come to see ourselves and others. In doing so, it forms our beliefs about who we are and how others relate to us. Over time, these conscious and embodied beliefs may manifest into toxic shame. When shame is internalized and identified with, we spiral into self-loathing and form the belief that we are without value or purpose and therefor unlovable. Toxic shame debilitates us and isolates us from humanity.

Transmuting toxic shame into healthy shame, releases clients from mind fog, isolation, social anxiety, self-loathing, lack of confidence, self-sabotage and perfectionism, and all pervasive nervous system shut down. Truly healing and releasing the underpinning of toxic shame, by transmuting it into healthy shame, restores vibrancy, self-esteem, resilience and self-reliance.

In 1998, says Monica Lewinsky, "I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously." Today, the kind of online public shaming she went through has become a constant. In a brave talk, she takes a look at our "culture of humiliation," in which online shame equals dollar signs - and demands a different way.

Begin Healing