in my last few posts I briefly looked at healthy shame, and proposed that it is an important feeling that helps us with our behaviour, and reminds us that we are human and have deficiencies.
Toxic shame, however, is an altogether different matter, and it is very widespread. Unfortunately we may be bound by toxic shame, and not be aware of it. It takes much skilful counselling to help a person cast off the shackles of toxic shame. When I was training to be a counsellor I spent many hours in therapy exploring my own toxic shame, and eventually overcame it.It is one of the most destructive psychological forces in a person’s life. It means being shamed to the core, and normally occurs at a very young age. Toxic shame destroys our love of self. It is very difficult for a person with toxic shame to love himself or herself, and the person who does not love himself cannot really love others. Love of self is basic to forming loving relationships. I will later look at the characteristics of people who have been toxically shamed, and it will become clear why it is difficult for them to form truly loving relationships. That is why I label toxic shame as one of the most destructive influences upon human development.