Convert excessive shame, continued from p. 1

      How can you tell if someone (like you) has inherited the psychological wound of excessive shame?

  Typical Symptoms of Excessive Shame

      There are many signs, all caused by the Shamed Child, Critic, Perfectionist, and Preacher personality subselves. The more of these traits a person has, the more likely s/he is a shame-based Grown Wounded Child (GWC).

      See if you recognize any of these symptoms. They are not prioritized. Options: (a) after rating yourself, ask someone who knows you well to rate you honestly on each of these traits; (b)  use this trait-list to track your healing progress over time.

__ 1)  Having a rigid core belief like...“I am a bad, weak, unlovable, undeserving, inept, unattractive, stupid, powerless, worthless (person / man / woman / partner / parent / child).

__ 2)  Being excessively zealous, defensive, rigid, dogmatic, and/or “preachy” about "sin," moral righteousness; God; the Devil; the Bible, Torah, or Koran; Hell; “the one true religion,” and/or about being “damned” or “saved.”

__ 3)  Habitual self-centeredness and significant egotism.

__ 4)  Having one or more active addictions to substances (including fat, sugar, and some carbohydrates), activities (e.g. work, spending, gambling, pornography, or working out), certain relationships (codependence) and/or emotional states (e.g. excitement, rage, spiritual ecstasy, or sexual arousal and release). 

__ 5)  Constant belittling, discounting, and criticizing yourself and/or others.

__ 6)  Repeatedly choosing menial jobs below personal capabilities; Avoiding “responsibilities” excessively. 

__ 7)  A compulsion to rescue needy or disadvantaged others; championing and identifying with “underdogs.”

__ 8)  Having few or no real friends; and/or being consistently drawn to other (unrecovering) wounded, needy companions and partners.

__ 9)  Excessive social isolation or a compulsion to socialize and be charming and the center of attention.

__ 10)  Excessive sensitivity and defensiveness to perceived criticism or rejection.

__ 11)  Habitually avoiding eye contact, and being apologetic or defensive about that. 

__ 12)  Often misperceiving neutral feedback as criticism, and/or wrongly assuming unspoken criticisms.

__ 13)  Excessive concern with personal and/or social blame and fault-finding.

__ 14)  Feeling "irrationally" guilty and/or anxious about earned successes (The "Imposter Syndrome").

__ 15)  Obsessing about “my rights” or "I (don't) deserve...," or “equality" or "fairness." 

__ 16)  Endlessly focusing on past “mistakes” in private or publicly.

__ 17)  Habitually putting your own opinions, needs, and welfare last (vs. equal).

__ 18)  Having an unreasonable fear of “failing,” "losing," or “making mistakes.”

__ 19)  Never admitting “mistakes” or compulsively apologizing all the time.

More common symptoms of excessive shame... 

__ 20)  Habitually unflattering, inappropriate, and/or “sloppy” clothing, grooming, and/or hygiene. 

__ 21)  Obsessive concern with personal, professional, social, vehicle, and/or dwelling appearances.

__ 22)  Compulsive perfectionism ("I can't help it"), and/or a driven need to "win," and/or “be the best," or "be number 1.”

__ 23)  Compulsively “shading the truth” or lying  directly or by omission, and denying it to avoid expected ridicule, criticism, or disapproval (also a symptom of excessive fears).

__ 24)  Notable self neglect - e.g. resisting or avoiding appropriate medical care: rarely or never seeing a doctor, dentist, gynecologist, or eye specialist for checkups or illnesses; not getting or taking prescribed medications; poor personal hygiene;.

__ 25)  Choosing unhealthy diets, habits (e.g. smoking), lack of exercise, and/or toxic environments; and ignoring, deflecting, minimizing, explaining, analyzing, or joking about this

__ 26)  Rarely buying anything “nice” or “special” for one’s self, or taking fun trips or vacations.

__ 27)  Deflecting, discounting, and/or rejecting deserved compliments, and “being very hard on myself.”

__ 28)  Chronically giving time and energy to others, and getting little or nothing in return.

__ 29)  Avoiding self-assessment for psychological wounds, and/or true personal recovery.

__ 30)  Repeatedly choosing, justifying, and tolerating relationships, situations, and/or environments which promote major shame.

__ 31)  Being unable to do this self-love exercise;

__ 32)  Repeatedly taking risks that result in self-harm, humiliation, and/or loss of self and social respect. Denying or justifying an active addiction is a common example.

__ 33)  Rarely requesting or demanding what one wants, or doing so anxiously and expecting rejection, rather than asserting calmly; Being timid, passive, quiet, reserved, or aggressive, self-centered, and/or a bully.

__ 34)  Not setting and/or enforcing wholistically-healthy limits (boundaries) with one's Self and others.

__ 35)  Tolerating and/or justifying a core belief like “I don’t deserve or expect success, love, security, comfort, friends, and/or nice things.”

__ 36)  Self-sabotage - repeatedly “setting one’s self up” for failure, disappointment, frustration, and/or losses, and feeling or saying “I can’t help it,” "it doesn't matter," "I don't care," or "I deserve it."

__ 37)  Frequently choosing long-suffering victim, saint, or martyr roles in key relationships and social settings, and not questioning why.

__ 38)  Choosing a direct-contact human-service profession - e.g. clergy, counseling, medicine, education, law enforcement, consulting, coaching, training, driving public vehicles, customer service, casework, .. (yes, there are exceptions!)

      The more of these shame-traits someone has, the higher the odds they are dominated by a Shamed Inner Child, an Inner Critic, a Perfectionist, and perhaps a Moralizer/Preacher subself.

      So what can you do about this cripplintg psychoological wound?

Typical Shame-conversion Options

          This two-part video provides options for improving self respect. The video mentions 8 self-improvement lessons in this Web site. I've since reduced that to 7.

      Converting excessive shame to guilt-free self respect and self love is part of a larger project: harmonizing all your personality subselves under the leadership of your wise true Self and other Manager subselves.

      Read this whole section before following any underlined links. It outlines:

  • internal (parts work) healing options; and...

  • external (social) options for converting shame to healthy pride.

Internal (Parts Work) Options

__ 1)  _ Read online "lesson 1" _ and assess yourself for inherited psychological wounds. _ Commit to long-term personal healing ("recovery.")

__ 2) _ identify your personality subselves. and _ learn how to do "parts work."

__ 3)  Use your version of this parts-work strategy to raise your self esteem

__ 4)  When you're undistracted, read and integrate these ideas on increasing self confidence, and self love.

__ 5)  If you're raising young children, see these ideas about protecting them against early shame. The ideas apply to your Inner Children too!

      Pause, breathe, and notice what you're aware of now. We've just reviewed key steps in converting internally-caused shame (low self esteem) into healthy pride and self love. Next let's look at how to...

Block External (Social) Sources of Shame

      The mistaken belief that "I'm bad and unlovable" comes from...some

  • some early-childhood adults; and...

  • some personality subselves; and,,,

  • critical and disapproving people, and perhaps...

  • a shame-based religion and church.

This section offers specific ways to calmly block the last two of these sources Note that we'll focus on people who promote significant guilt in another article.

      For perspective, think of one or more people or groups in your life who shame (scorn. discount, disrespect) you openly or covertly. Meditate on how you usually react: silent seething and resentment? Apologies? Whining? Anger? Hostility? Excuses? Avoidance? Numbing out? Crying? Complaining? Collapsing? Name-calling? Self-criticism and disgust? Addiction? "Depression"?

    Every response like these is psychologically damaging to you, the shamer, and your relationship. They usually come from unawareness + a disabled true Self + ignorance of communication skills and options. All three of these can be corrected!

      Read this whole section before following any underlined links: Select from these options to best-fit your situation: Numbering continues from above.

__ 6)  Essential - work steadily to harmonize your team of subselves under the wise leadership of your true Self, other Managers, and Higher Power (Lesson 1). As part of this process, patiently follow options 1 thru 9 above. Most other self-help advisors omit this requisite. 

__ 7)  As you relate to other people, use this self-awareness exercise to notice significant feelings of shame and disrespect. Identify the specific behaviors that cause these feelings - e.g. sneering, interrupting, criticizing, disparaging, name-calling, guilt-tripping, manipulating, eye-rolling, labeling ("that's a stupid idea!"); humiliating, dictating, controlling, and/or physical intrusion, aggression, and/or abuse. Look for patterns over time. Each such behavior will cause your Shamed Child to spasm, and will probably activate your Critic, Perfectionist, Preacher, and Pessimist subselves.

__  8)  Take this quiz about interpersonal communication knowledge. If you can't answer most items, invest time in studying online lesson 2 at,htm. Otherwise, select from these options.

__  9)  Study this sample Bill of Personal Rights, and then draft your own. Knowing and believing in your rights as a dignified erson is the basis for effective assertion.

__  10)  Protect your integrity. Define the core values by which you want to live your life, like honesty, compassion, tolerance, forgiveness, self-nurturance, and respect for your body, Spirit, and the environment. Living by these values consciously promotes healthy pride and self respect. Ignoring these values (violating your integrity) promotes shame and guilt.

__  11) Pick a person who tends to shame you. Identify (a) specifically how they behave that shames and/or disrespects you, and (b) how you feel when they do (e.g. irritated, hurt, resentful, demeaned, anxious, guilty, frustrated, angry, weary, etc.) Each feeling comes from an activated personality subself like your Shamed Child..

__  12) When you're centered, compose a three part ''I''-message that you'll give to the shamer - ideally in person after they disrespect you. Use these examples as guides. Role-play your  assertion out loud until you're comfortable with it. If any subselves are nervous or opposed to this, remind them of your Rights as a dignified, worthy person.

__ 13) Imagine specifically how this person is likely to respond to your I-message - e.g. scoffing, anger, changing the subject, sarcasm, silence, complaining, blaming, etc. Compose an empathic listening statement that objectively summarizes their response, and practiced it out loud .

      Recall - these are options for reducing social (external) sources of shame.

__  14) The next time the person shames you, use your I-message and empathic listening (17  and 18) as often as needed, until you feel heard. If your Pleaser gets anxious, remind that Guardian and Inner Kids that your self-esteem and integrity are more important than being liked.

__  15) If the person psychologically wounded (a GWC), choose from these relationship options; They apply to anyone, including mates, parents, friends, and older kids.

__  16) If the person isn't respecting your boundaries, consider these options.

__  17) If the person is a child, review these communication suggestions.

__  18) Use this framework with each person who shames you. The more you use it, the more habitual and reflexive it will become. Each time you assert your feelings, values, needs, and boundaries (honor your integrity) notice what happens to your self respect and pride.

__  19)  Evaluate whether your religious or spiritual beliefs and practices may promote significant shame, guilt, and/or fears. If they do, help your subselves find and adopt a more nourishing faith.

__  20)  See this succinct review of the power of positive self esteem by Dr. Nathaniel Branden. I also recommend John Bradshaw's practical book Healing the Shame That Binds You.

__  21)  As you evolve your version of these healing options, keep working patiently at converting internal shame to self-love (options 1 to 10). Use the symptom checklist above to track your progress over time.

__  22)  keep your perspective: converting excessive shame is an important part of freeing your true Self and reducing all your inherited psychological wounds over time ("recovery").

__  23)  If you know other people burdened by excessive shame, consider referring them to online lesson 1 and/or this article. The overarching goal here is to alert people to the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle and motivate them to break it!

+ + +

      Pause, breathe, and reflect. what are you aware of now? Are you significantly burdened by excessive and/or chronic "low self esteem (shame)? If so, how motivated are you to use the options above to exchange your shame for guilt-free self-respect and self love?

      If you have inner voices (thoughts) that say "This won't work!":  "This is too hard!"; "I'll never be able to do these options!" etc., know that short-sighted false selves are trying to guard you from scary change and disappointment. Don't  give in to them! Your Shamed Child depends on your Self for release from his or her life-long burden of undeserved shame!


      This two-page article is one of a series in Lesson 1 on healing six common psychological wounds inherited by typical survivors of early-childhood abandonment, neglect and abuse (trauma).

      This article offers...

  • Perspective on the crippling wound of excessive shame ("low self esteem");

  • "Shame 101": how excessive shame relates to guilt, pride, self respect, humility, egotism, embarrassment, assertiveness, addiction, and wound-recovery;

  • A checklist of typical behavioral symptoms of excessive shame, and...

  • 28 Practical suggestions on how to permanently shift excessive shame toward non-egotistical self-respect, pride, and self-love. .

      Recall - this is one of several wound-assessment checklists in Lesson-1.

      Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your true Self, or ''someone else''?

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Updated December 16, 2014