Dynamics of Shame and Low Self Esteem 1

Shame is a VERY common topic we discuss here at Imagine Hope. Nearly every client we see has some shame issues varying from intense and paralyzing (feelings of worthlessness) to subtle (low self-esteem and self-confidence issues). In order to help our readers understand shame more, here's crash course on shame issues:

  • It is a belief that a part of us is defective, bad, incomplete, phoney, rotten, inadequate, or a failure.
  • It is different from guilt. Guilt is like feeling ashamed that I did something bad (it's focused on the action being bad). Shame is that I am something bad (it's focused on me as a person being bad).
  • It can be overwhelming as if there is no way out.
  • People with shame issues try to hide it.
  • All people have some form of shame. It becomes toxic when it is not worked through and let go of. Overtime you could become it's victim.
  • Shame makes you feel like people can see through you and hopeless that you cannot correct it.
  • You may feel isolated and lonely as if you are the only one with this issue.
  • You may be afraid to tell others about this issue for fear of judgement.
  • Your shame may wear a disguise like anger, rage, resentment, control, perfectionism, or compulsive behaviors.
  • Shame causes defensiveness.
  • You may notice people's shame through their non-verbals (slumped down, lack of eye contact, apologizing for needing something).
  • It will not go away without help.

Shame is a deep issue for people to understand. Keep checking in all week to get a better grasp on this common unspoken issue.


* Source: Healing the Child Within: Discovery and Recovery for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families  by Charles Whitfield

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri does virtual therapy for residents of Indiana and Florida using videoconferencing technology. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling and adolescent counseling.