Living With Shame and Humiliation
Differences and Ways to HealShame
The basic nature of chronic or excessive shame is that the person enduring shame feels unworthy, defective and empty.
Shame can be debilitating, toxic and extremely destructive. Shame works to separate the individual from the psychological self. It creates an internal crisis that attacks the inner core, triggering a shaming spiral of negative self-talk.
Shame can be defined in several ways:
- A painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness or disgrace.
- An act that brings dishonor, disgrace or public condemnation.
- An object of great disappointment.
Humiliation is the infliction of a profoundly violent psychological act that leaves the victim with a deep wound within the psychological self. The painful experience is vividly remembered for a long time.
- The enforced lowering of a person or group, a process of subjugation that either damages or strips away a person's pride, honor or dignity.
- A state of being placed, against one's will, in a situation where one is made to feel inferior.
- A process in which the victim is forced into passivity, acted upon, or made to feel helpless.
Humiliation is public, whereas shame is private. Humiliation is the suffering of an insult. If the person being humiliated deems the insult as credible, then they will feel shame.
One can insult and humiliate another, but that person will only feel shame if their self image is reduced. Such action requires the person who has been humiliated to "buy in"-- that is, agree with the assessment that shame is deserved.
A person who is secure about their own stature is less likely to be vulnerable to feeling shame, whereas the insecure person is more prone to feeling shame because this individual gives more weight to what others think of him than to what he thinks of himself.