In the dictionary shame is defined as a painful feeling of guilt, embarrassment, or disgrace; the capacity to feel shame; something that is unfortunate; regrettable. DrBev’s focus today is on how shame is passed down from generation to generation and connecting the dots of shame to your interpersonal relationships. Note: Too much shame brought on anybody can result in psychological damage and/or self-sabotage in your later years and may benefit from mental or emotional counseling. Shame may be experienced as loneliness, sadness or misery is experienced by children and adults.  Check out the video at the end of the blog “Stained By Shame” Episode One: “What our relationship needs is an escape hatch”.

Not being loved or abandon can be a way of shaming. For example, a parent or caregiver not taking care of the primary needs of child/children will, more often than not, result in the child not feeling loved or wanted.  Another example is parents or caregivers not involved in the child’s life, may result in the child feeling loneliness or an empty void that they need to be filed.  As teenagers or adults they fill the void by doing other things like drugs-food-misery addictions, promiscuity or other self-sabotaging behaviors.

Family shame, such as found in the Neglecting Family when the primary caregiver tends to worried about their needs instead of the needs of their children. For example, a little boy comes home from school to a family parent or caregiver that is depressed.  The person complains about his/or her sufferings instead of asking the child how was their day in school. In a neglect home as children we often think that something is wrong with them.  The experience leaves the child feeling like they don’t have the right to exist.

The Controlling Family is the families that want everything to be perfect and mistakes are not tolerated.  Controlling family is one that shames any deviation from the way the primary parent perceive what the ‘right’ way life it is supposed to be. Shame engendered by the parent(s) controlling and domineering ways can make a child feel worthless. A controlling family may carry scars of deep–down shame. That is because they want to work on the exterior of the family unit.  The opinions of others are more important than their child’s inner-Self, their Spirit; they give little attention to the self-awareness of the child’s need to mobilize their desire for self-fulfillment or actualization.

The Abusive Family, aggressive and attacking family. They attack the child emotionally, physically, or sexually. This family’s shame goes to the core of emotional instability, leaving the child, as an adult who feels emotionally damaged, not good enough.

An emotionally abusive family shames by way of mental punishment or cruelty, ridicule, and ‘put downs’ to one or more  family members. The physical abusive family spanks hits and uses emotional intimidation in the threatening of further spankings, beatings or whooping. The sexually abusive family cuts deepest into the psyche of the person and evokes shame and secrets.

As children we adopt behaviors to keep us as safe as possible, if only in our minds.  These agreements we made without knowing what we were doing at time. Using drugs, alcohol, sex or food is just a few of the ways that many attempt to quiet the voice(s)  inside your head. Other people  use work, shopping, greed, or turn ‘good thing’ like going to the gym into an extreme addiction.

But the outcome is still the same. That voice never goes away, the voice that says we are not good enough to live life on life’s terms. One common thread that all shame-bound individuals share; that their shame and guilt is built on beliefs and agreements they made and put into their Book of Law that they made up in their heads when they were children or young adults.  As grown adults they only allow into their inner circle those that will keep this dysfunctional agreement alive and intact. Shame is the toxic foundation that many addictive self-sabotaging behaviors are built upon.

Shame-bound persons believe themselves to be seriously flawed with lack of self-worth and therefore do not authentically show up in many areas of their life. A person who has been shamed in may feel no way out;  feelings of inadequacy; and that there is nothing that can be do to set things right. Most shamed-bound individuals have difficulty with intimate relationships; they are controlling, rigid, and perfectionists.

Note: Too much shame brought on anybody can result in psychological damage and/or self-sabotage in your later years.  You may benefit from mental or emotional counseling to resolve these self-defeating issues and become happy, whole, and free.




DrBev is a National Certified Counselor, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a Certified Gestalt Psychotherapist, Seminar - WorkShop Facilitator, Radio Personality, Author and President and Educational Director of DrBev Mental Health Counseling.
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  1. vonn
    Posted March 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    HMM, very good awareness tool. Just when you think you the meaning of one thing, it’s totally the opposite. To find out that in order for SHAME to occur two parties have to be involved: yourself, and another entity. Also the fact it can lead to a primary mindset of shame ridden or the burden of growing and moving under the cloud of ‘I’m a failure; I made a mistake, but then I am a mistake’ which might require years of physical and mental repair
    We do operate in the space that we must live up to expectations of someone or something, constantly judged, exposed and naked. What you have done is demonstrated via examples that in light of who we think we are or how strong or via self, we are found to be ‘less than’ or lacking in something, but help is there to bring light where darkness is

  2. Posted March 31, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Shame is another ego tactic whose sole purpose is to keep you from being who you really are. Its tentacles can reach into our core and make it feel impossible to shine our light because we believe with every fiber of our being that no one would ever want to see it. Thank you for shining the light on shame and reminding everyone that there is another way.

  3. Suun
    Posted March 31, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Love your therapeutic Thursdays I think its a great idea, DrBev! Building self esteem takes a lot of work for women and people of color due to our societal environment. Most people are not willing to take time out to be intimate with their inner spirit. We live in a world of people lost in emotional denial. Its like the true self is hidden under a mountain of stuff from the past. All psychological damages develop from our child minds or a hurt we needed protection from, as you stated. In the long run the inability to handle and acknowledge the pain correctly causes more internal suffering without us realizing that. We don’t even know it is noticeable by our thinking, reactions and choices to life events. I am still uncovering stuff about me after twenty five years, only now its a joy without fear. One thing I know for sure you can not heal by your thinking alone you must acquire tools, teachers and trustful relationships to emotionally mature. Thanks for being consistent, love. /:)

  4. Brenda
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    The shame game, it seems is another means of manipulation, and it keeps the dishonest behavior going. It’s really important that individuals get the proper tools to deal with their inner conflict before something worse happens. If individuals don’t recognize what’s really going on, things can get out of control. The video demonstrated how the situation just gets worse, and out of control, when we don’t recognize the signs. Emotional maturity comes eventually, but not without work, and help from a trust-worthy professional.

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