What is shame?

My entire career in counseling and coaching I have specialized in healing shame.  When I talk about shame I am talking about when a person holds a core belief about themselves that they are in some way “less than”.  Some of the core beliefs that are shame based are:

  • I am unworthy
  • I am inadequate
  • I am unlovable
  • I am a fraud
  • I am disgusting

The shame based belief defines the person and is what leads the way in their interactions with others.  There is a sense that if someone really saw them that they would be exposed as deficient.  Therefore, there is a constant need to cover the true self up, to prove oneself, and a deep sense of self-loathing.


When shame is the core, the healing of the shame is multi-dimensional.  Shame is NEVER true, but it feels true.  Shame causes depression in some, and anxiety in others.  Shame can be anchored in trauma and it can also be a byproduct of living in our world.  When we grow up in an environment where we think we have to be perfect, where blame of self or other as opposed to appropriate responsibility is learned, where hierarchy determines our importance, where we don’t learn we have rights, choices, or boundaries, where true forgiveness is never learned, and where there is always a sense that the truth is not being spoken, we learn shame.  It becomes our identity at a young age, and is not challenged.


What we don’t know is that we are perfect as we are, and we get to make mistakes and be forgiven, and take responsibility for our own actions and choices, and that “good enough” is all we need to strive to do.  We don’t know that love created us like itself and that never changes.  We are love and when we don’t know that, we are shame based.



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