Did you know there are 2 types of shame?
Let’s talk about shame. There is a parallel distinction between general shame, which serves a social function, and core shame, which is tied to the experience of feeling unlovable and so innately flawed that one cannot make up for this defect?
General shame often results from perceived social rejection or feeling as though one’s self-esteem or social status has been threatened. As with any perceived threat to self, the body reacts with a fear response and prepares you to act in order to protect yourself.
The most common response to shame is to be submissive. This submissiveness and acknowledgment of wrongdoing tends to reduce aggression from others.
Expressing shame invites more positive social behavior from both parties. The submissive person engages in prosocial behavior to make up for his or her actions, and the aggrieved person or one hearing shame expressed tends to behave by being more cooperative and forgiving. Despite negative connotations about shame, when people express shame via submissiveness, it encourages people to treat one another well and facilitates close bonds that keep people together.
Core shame is often seen in people who experienced significant criticism as a child, or serious abuse; it results from chronic and detrimental exposure to these encounters without appropriate reconnection or healing. The fear response associated with general shame is persistently tolerated at a great cost to the person’s physical and emotional health. This enduring shame state also results in withdrawal, decrease in self-esteem, greater social anxiety, and vulnerability to depression. In my psychotherapy practice, I’ve observed such shame lead to chronic withdrawal from others.
The good news is that there is an opportunity to heal from these painful experiences and release the shame.
What have you done in response to it?
Next week’s topic: How does feeling helpless motivate change?
I’d love for you to respond on my facebook group!
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To A Life You Love,
Dr. Joan Rosenberg