Understanding a Shame-Based Personality


There is a difference between blaming and shaming a person. 

  • Blaming is being told you did something wrong. 
  • Shaming is being told that there’s something wrong with you, and you’re worthless, bad, inferior or inadequate. 

Examples of shaming statements include:

  • “You were a mistake; I wish I’d never had you”
  • “You’re useless; you’ll never amount to anything.”
  • “You could never do what he/she does”
  • “You’ve ruined my life; you ruin everything for everyone”

Adults shamed in childhood have the following traits:

  1. They are afraid to share their true thoughts and feelings with others.
  2. They are terrified of intimacy and put up walls in relationships. They also fear commitment as they expect to be rejected.
  3. They are often extremely shy, easily embarrassed, and are terrified of being shamed or humiliated. They tend to suffer from debilitating false guilt.
  4. They struggle with feelings of worthlessness and believe they are inferior to others. They believe that is something they can never change as worthlessness is at the core of who they are.
  5. They often feel ugly and flawed, even when they’re beautiful – and everyone tells them that.
  6. They may be narcissistic and act as if they have it all together; alternatively, they may be completely selfless, almost to the point of being a doormat.
  7. They are often very defensive and find it hard to bear the slightest criticism. They feel as if they are being constantly watched and judged.
  8. They have a pervasive sense of loneliness and always feel like outsiders (even when others genuinely like and love them).
  9. They feel controlled – as if they always have to do want others want and say – and this blocks spontaneity.
  10. They are perfectionists and usually suffer from performance anxiety. This may also cause them to be procrastinators.
  11. They tend to block their feelings through compulsive behaviors like eating disorders, retail therapy or substance-abuse.
  12. They find it hard to establish and enforce healthy boundaries with others. 


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