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Healthy and Unhealthy Shame

Danica Joan January 17, 2022

Shame can be healthy or unhealthy. Healthy shame is normal and temporary, and it provide specific messages for you that maintain a healthy balance for your thoughts and behavior. For example, if you feel shame about showing up late to work, that motivates you to show up on time after that. Most people can stand up to normal, temporary shame. That kind of shame certainly hurts, but it will eventually disappear.

Unhealthy Shame, by contrast, is excessive and distorted. People with unhealthy shame have been shamed more than normal by prolonged, repeated, or perhaps chronic situations. Excessively shamed persons often bury an almost intolerable sense that their shame can never go away, and are completely unaware of any shame at all. They have become completely unconscious to the fact that deep down inside they feel inadequate.

Think about a time when you might have had a shame situation. Keep in mind that a shame experience most often has to do with feeling small, or unacceptable, or inadequate, or embarrassed, or humiliated.

Describe the situation, how it felt, and how you reacted to it….See Printout