The Dynamics of Shame & Low Self-Esteem – 3

This week so far we have talked about what shame is and isn’t, and also the differences between shame guilt.  But where does shame come from?  The answer may be related to your childhood. If you grew up hearing messages like “Shame on you!”, “You’re bad!”, “You’re not good enough!” there is a good chance you may have some shame.  When you hear these messages over and over again from people who have a lot of influence on your life (parents, family, coaches, clergy, teachers, etc.), you tend to internalize the messages.  These are the people that you are most vulnerable to and dependent on growing up.  If they think you’re bad, then you must be, right?

If you grew up with your feelings being invalidated, you may have shame.  If you were told, “You shouldn’t feel that way!”, “Don’t cry!”, “Toughen up!”, or “Get over it!”, you probably did not feel safe to express your feelings.  Not only have you been told that you are bad, you have also been sent messages that your feelings are not real.  You were told to stifle any expression of feelings, because it’s not ok or safe to talk about.

If these “rules” were enforced inconsistently, as an adult you may experience difficulty with authority figures, feelings of guilt and shame, and an inability to express emotion in a healthy way.  You may even struggle with knowing and expressing how you truly feel, because you have stuffed your emotions for years. You may also struggle with confidence and self-esteem issues.

Continue to read this week as we talk more about shame, self-esteem, and how to heal.  Thanks for stopping by!


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


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.