Toxic shame is one of the greatest destroyers of human happiness for those who suffer from it, and for those who are at the receiving end from shame-based individuals. Those who are shame-ridden are often unaware of it, and even if aware, are at a loss on how to deal with it, to lessen its terrible burden. Each week I am going to explore toxic shame and how damaging it is to our happiness. I hope, as the weeks go by, you will join me in this exploration, and perhaps share your experiences of toxic shame, so that between us we might help others who have suffered from this blight. I suppose I can begin by saying that for many years I carried the heavy burden of toxic shame, but finally managed, with the help of my counsellor, to dissipate it.
But before I delve into toxic shame, I would like to have a look at normal or healthy shame, so that we can distinguish between the two. Our feelings are good. They are part of us. They speak clearly to us about how we are. Equally the feeling of healthy shame is good. It is, for example, a good indicator of conscience. It lets us know if we have done wrong, or acted dishonourably or ridiculously.