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Woman feeling ashamed
(xenia, Morguefile)

  • "Shame is... the fear of disconnection." (Brené Brown)
  • Shame arises from introspection rather than social cues.
  • Initial Physiological Function: Reduces and hides vulnerable body areas from potential attacks. (Wikipedia, accessed 27 October 2017)
  • Evolved Communicative Function: Decreased social status. Wish for appeasement. (Wikipedia, accessed 27 October 2017)
  • Questions to self: What is it in me that - when known or seen by others - will make me feel unworthy of connection? Do I have the courage to be imperfect? Can I let myself be deeply seen? Have I really made a mistake - or instead - should society change?
  • Similar emotions: Embarrassment, Humiliation, Guilt, Vulnerability.
  • Opposite emotions: .
 Woman feeling ashamed
  • Bach Flower Remedies: Agrimony [cheery face masks deep shame], Crab Apple [body shame], Pine [transform self-blame to self-acceptance].
  • California Flower Essences: Scarlet Monkeyflower [ashamed of unpleasant emotions], Pink Monkeyflower [deep shame, may be from abuse/childhood], Basil [sexual shame], Calla Lily [gender shame].

Shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection? (Brené Brown, 4m42s, posted 3 January 2011, accessed 5 July 2020)

Shame has long been utilised to rebuke anyone who stepped outside an agreed moral code. In small communities, the incidents were isolated. But with the growth of cities and the mass media, information spread much faster. Scandal went mainstream.
However, today, the rise of ‘anti-shame’ explains how some emerge unscathed. Recent movements have attempted to redress the dynamic of scandal – by shaming those accused of abusing their power. Where scandal was once born out of a prurient mindset, it now often centres on abuse of power and anger over sexual exploitation.
(Adapted from
BBC, posted 21 November 2019, accessed 25 November 2019)

We are completely ashamed of our emotional needs. And I think they are primary to the creation of what we experience in this life... And if we are ashamed of our emotional needs, then what we will oftentimes do, to get our needs met, is to let something fail in our lives as a surrogate... So, instead of saying "I need a cuddle", I'll let my business fail and then you'll have to cuddle me, and I'll never have to ask for it... You let these things speak as an emotional substitute for you - because we're so ashamed to put our emotional needs out directly.
(Caroline Myss, 'How to Manifest Your Own Visions' audio tape, side two, 8m11s)

Our feelings exist to guide us through life. They show us what we want and what we don’t want so we can create more of the former and move away from the latter. When someone shames our feelings and encourages us to disconnect from them, they encourage us to disconnect from our emotional guidance system... This inevitably leads to creating an inauthentic, unfulfilling life, and stunted development.
(Marlena Tillhon
, Tiny Buddha, dated 2019, accessed 3 October 2020)

Shame keeps worthiness away by convincing us that owning our stories will lead to people thinking less of us. Shame is all about fear. We’re afraid that people won’t like us if they know the truth about who we are, or, believe it or not, how wonderful we are when soaring (sometimes it’s just as hard to own our strengths as our struggles).
(Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection)

This is part of a series on Emotion

Also see:-


Emotion Index

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Page last updated: 24 April 2022.