Shame is the deeply held belief that, at core, there is something wrong with me. So, no matter what I do, or how hard I try, I’ll never measure up and be good enough. Thus, I expect other people to reject me in the end, and deep down inside I reject myself.
If I have a shame based identity, I am likely to battle with the following feelings:
- Feeling like a fraud
- Feeling like I have to cover up all the time
- Fear of being exposed for who and what I truly am
- Feeling powerless
- Feeling as if I don’t have, or deserve, a voice
- Wishing I could just disappear
- Feeling vulnerable
- Feeling very needy – and perhaps too needy, compared to other people
- Feeling like I always disappoint myself and others.
The “shame bound” person is constantly struggling against these persistent and negative feelings. They are triggered easily, and by innocuous triggers, such as being overlooked or contradicted by a friend. This can then result in a powerful “shame attack” that is so intense that we’re completely paralysed, and overwhelmed, by a sense of worthlessness. These feelings can persist for days, for weeks or even months.