Shame is a deep and intense emotion embedded in social and relational anxiety, withdrawal, and negative self-perception. It is a heavy burden to carry and sustains deep emotional wounds.
Research has consistently shown that shame is strongly correlated with negative psychological states such as depression, anxiety, and interpersonal sensitivity. Shame can be deeply debilitating and restrictive. But what is shame?
Shame is a feeling of humiliation and embarrassment arising from the perception of having done something inappropriate, immoral or dishonourable. It may involve being exposed to a behaviour that is unwanted, exclusion, or, a feeling of being flawed. Essentially, a negative evaluation of oneself or by others can lead to intense feelings of shame.
Unlike guilt, shame is correlated with an individual’s core or identity, and gives rise to an intense perception of inadequacy, unworthiness, and flaws that are internalized and may lead an individual to feel a deep sense of embarrassment, humiliation, and low self-esteem.
Addressing and challenging shame-based core beliefs and emotions through evidence-based psychological interventions can significantly contribute to positive outcomes. These may include the use of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, attachment injury and trauma bonding work to move past their limited self-beliefs and fears.
In addition, building self-esteem, cultivating self-compassion, and challenging negative self-worth perceptions can all be very useful in dealing with unremitting guilt. By addressing and working through shame, individuals can experience a greater sense of self-worth, improved self-esteem, and a more positive outlook on life.