The Voice of shame


A Chinese proverb says- “even monkeys at times fall from the trees”.

But, does this monkey become less of a monkey because it has fallen?

un photo

But shame says that you are a bad person because your circumstances are negative. Or because you have failed or because you are bullied, rejected, abused or you went through unpleasant, hard circumstances.

Shame has a voice that says “I am bad". "I am a mistake". "I am not good enough”. On the other hand 'guilt' often says, “I did something bad.”

In abusive relationships, shame will tell you to keep quiet about your suffering. Its’ voice may say you are foolish. It may say you are not good enough or you are a failure. It will make you feel humiliated and useless.

Negative circumstances or abuse, even from childhood, leave marks of shame, which sometimes are internalized. Shame is linked to decreased self-esteem.


opium abuse

To cope with internalized shame, unhealthy coping mechanisms are normally adopted. Some of the adopted strategies may include substance abuse, aggressiveness/violent behavior, being a bully, and other self-defeating tendencies. 

As opposed to being vulnerable, shame makes one avoid or become reluctant to discuss memories or ideas that cause shame. 

For example, shame will make someone in an abusive relationship, to be silent. It makes them feel like they are bad people and they fear harsh judgement from others.  

The negative cycle of abuse, accompanied by shame, can lead to panic attacks, anxiety, depression, substance use, violence suicidality, and many other symptoms.

Being vulnerable

Amongst other issues, one way to respond to shame is by recognizing the external and internal factors that triggered shame. 

Being vulnerable and willing to discuss with the support system, the issues that caused or causing shame is important. 

Self-empathy and compassionate are critical while looking for empathetic relationships where deep connection can be achieved.

Mindfulness is key to address self-judgement and negative self-talk.