In my last contribution I have looked at some of the characteristics of shame-based people. Again, these may not always stem from shame. They are, however, a good guide for those who may be unaware that the discomfort they feel comes from being shamed to the core. Below are other characteristics worth noting.

  • Patronising. This means offering help to a person who has not asked for it. It makes the shamed person feel superior, and subtly shames the other person. Psychologists would see it as passive aggression.
  • Caretaking and helping. This one may seem surprising to you! Many families have caretakers among their children. They may not always be driven by shame. However, looking after others can mask shame and make it bearable by making the shamed person feel good. It can also breed co-dependency, for example, a wife who looks after an alcoholic husband lives in a co-dependent relationship. She fulfils her needs from the difficulties of her husband, and she colludes with him in keeping him an alcoholic. She colludes, therefore, in keeping him in a shame bound state, since addiction can be a symptom of being shame-based. By over-caring for their children, the shame-based parent disenables them and shames them.
  • Being nice and trying to always please people. This may seem difficult to understand, but it has a certain logic in the context of toxic shame. Always being nice is a sign that the person is not real. People cannot always be nice and cannot always please others. It is a defence against toxic shame. It kills sincerity and honesty, and so it prevents proper relationships. One feels guilty about being angry at a really nice guy!
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