How Shame Affects Relationships Part 1

This week at Imagine Hope, we are tackling the topic of shame, as it relates to relationships.  To start, let’s discuss what shame may look and feel like:

What is Shame:

Shame is an emotion and a feeling.  It’s the feeling of not being “good enough”, feeling like a failure, or feeling unworthy.  It may feel like judgment, embarrassment, and insecurity.  It can make us feel unlovable.  We may feel stupid.  When we experience shame, it may wash over us.  Some might get red from embarrassment, some might lash out in anger, or maybe some of us shut down and want to escape. 

Shame is often passed from generation to generation in families.  Families with secrets, addictions, mental illness, and perfectionism are often founded in shame.  The covert (and sometimes overt) message sent is that you are not good enough, and nothing you will ever do is good enough. 

Shame can also be founded in invalidated feelings (ex. “You shouldn’t feel that way” or “You should just get over that”).  When our feelings are invalidated, we don’t learn how to trust what we are feeling.  As adults, we may struggle to communicate how we feel because we may not actually know.

Shame holds us back in relationships because we may not feel worthy of our partner’s love.  We may get triggered from things in our past, and end up lashing out at our partner or shutting down.  We may have unrealistic expectations of our partners and of ourselves.  And since we don’t know how we feel, we are never able to communicate our needs.

We hope you check back this week as we discuss more aspects of shame and how it impacts relationships.

Written by: Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW

Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group.  Christy enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling.  Christy also provides family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.

Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.