Shame: Part 4

Covert vs. Overt Shame

Shame often originates in the family of origin. Sometimes people don’t realize they grew up being shamed because the shame wasn’t as obvious. In other situations people are very aware that they were shamed, but don’t understand why it still impacts them today.                                                                       


  • Shame messages are sent in a covered way
  • Value is connected to what you do, not who you are
  • Praise is brief and lectures are long
  • Expectation of perfection
  • Love is conditional 
  • The idea that you aren't reaching your potential is sent


  • Shame messages are sent in an open way
  • Value isn't given - "I wish you had never been born."
  • Praise isn't given - "You will never amount to anything."
  • Attention is conditional
  • The idea that you will never be enough is explicit

Common Shame Messages Sent by the Family

  1. You are not good - basically, there is something wrong with you
  2. You are not good enough - almost, but not quite, you’re a constant disappointment
  3. You don’t belong - you are different, and that’s bad
  4. You are not loveable - you were rarely told, “I love you” and to work for attention
  5. You should not exist - you are a burden and life would be better if you weren’t here

Our brains take in these messages as children as truth. Until we are adults we don’t have much of an option to believe anything different. The problem is, most of us don’t realized that there is another option and keep on believing the shame messages sent to us in childhood. This can be hard work but with the help of a trusted friend or counselor you can begin to identify these shame messages and change them.