What is the purpose of shame?



What Is Guilt? What is Shame?

Others have distinguished between the two by indicating that “We feel guilty for what we do. We feel shame for what we are.” Shame is often a much stronger and more profound emotion than guilt. “Shame is when we feel disappointed about something inside of us, our basic nature.” …


Have you tried unsuccessfully to heal your shame? Discover how shame and control are intricately tied together, and that when you give up your attachment to control, you will find your shame disappearing.

Many people on a healing path have found it extremely challenging to heal their shame. Yet when you understand the purpose of shame, you will be able to move beyond it.

Shame is the feeling that there is something basically wrong with you. Whereas the feeling of guilt is about DOING something wrong, shame is about BEING wrong at the core. The feeling of shame comes from the belief that, “I am basically flawed, inadequate, wrong, bad, unimportant, undeserving, or not good enough.” …


Understanding emotions, being able to observe them in ourselves, and knowing the information they give us is an important part of living effectively. For example, fear tells us to take action or freeze to protect ourselves. When fear is based on true facts versus imagined or misinterpreted information, that message to self-protect can be lifesaving. That message is perfectly clear — you are in danger.

Sometimes, though, the message our emotions are giving us is more difficult to understand. That’s true of shame.

Webster defines shame as the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, and ridiculous done by oneself or another. It is a kind of injury to one’s pride or self-respect…


Shame emerges when people feel they have failed, when people are rejected, or perceive that they are somehow lesser in value than they wished. So, for example, when I was ten my younger brother told my friends that I still wet my bed. Although I now look back on it with the empathy of an understanding adult, at the time I felt a deep sense of shame. Shame is one of the most common and important emotions in psychotherapy. Many patients have reported feeling shame over failing to achieve what they expected, being criticized or teased or rejected because they were disabled or different or defective, or being unable to manage what “normal” people manage.

What does shame orient people to do? Well, after my brother let my secret slip, I ran inside the house. And many of my patients report a strong desire to hide or avoid social scrutiny or judgment. When shame is experienced, they feel weak, shrunken, defeated, and self-critical…

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