On Shame

I had a very interesting discussion that led to a reflection and exploration of guilt versus shame. I’m learning more about shame because of it’s apparent toxicity and affect on the individual that stays with us until adulthood. It starts in childhood, often with parents trying to use guilt as a tool to teach and educate but that doesn’t work the way they think or hope it would.

You see, Guilt is intrinsic, it starts from within as a reaction that stems from one’s moral code and points out a behavior or state that contrasts with it. You feel guilty because YOU believe that you should be behaving differently. Parents trying to use that tactic actually just results in shame. Shame is extrinsic, it stars from outside and cuts right through to our sense of self. It comes from being made to feel that our behavior or state of being is bad/ evil/ inappropriate/ etc. so we interpret it internally as we are bad/ evil/ inappropriate/unworthy/ etc. Hence, all the “dark like my soul” references.

Now that is a deep impact! It doesn’t mean certain behavior stops or changes, we just learn to hide it and feel bad/evil/inappropriate/unworthy/etc. for doing that. It just reinforces that shame induced belief.

This can be extrapolated onto the mundane things like loving the color black but your parent hating it and associating it with something other than how they want you to be all the way to societal shame experienced by survivors of violent sexual assault. The research of Brené Brown, beginning with this podcast discussion, got me thinking about this more deeply after the initial discussion and exploring it within myself.

Our words are very powerful and how we phrase them can leave such a lasting impact. What was said to us and around us leads to us forming certain beliefs that we internalize. Through becoming aware of this, I hope to separate between those toxic beliefs and who I am by identifying them and tracing back to where they came from then choosing for myself what I would like to believe.

Brené Brown says that “shame drives two primary tapes: not good enough, and who do you think you are?” So if you find yourself feeling or thinking that way, identify it, explore it, and replace it.


This followed two discussions, a podcast, some reading, and a lot of reflection, and I’m still only at the tip of the iceberg, needing to explore daily details.  

Disclaimer: Always learning… Always evolving.. for life. x