Shame is one of our most painful, powerful, and complex emotions. Unlike guilt, which is usually focused on a particular behavior or action, shame is an intense judgment of self. It instills feelings of being flawed and unworthy, and it is usually introduced to us through external criticism or ridicule for having done, expressed, or believed something considered socially inappropriate, unacceptable, or harmful. Shame motivates us to withdraw, hide, and disconnect from others, to mask crucial parts of ourselves, or to lash out aggressively in self-defense. We all carry the weight of shame, but it is possible to free ourselves from its immense burden and live fully into our whole being.
Truth is, we all participate in the collective consciousness, which includes our massive unconscious shadow, of which shame is a part. The more we observe, notice and take action on evolving and elevating our contribution individually and collectively, the more energy we place on evolution.
Human beings everywhere, in every culture and on every continent in the world over, experience shame in exactly the same way: gaze aversion, brief mental confusion, and a longing to disappear, usually accompanied by blushing of the face, neck, or chest.
Shame is perhaps the most painful of all emotions. It is at the root of both the inner critic and perfectionism. It binds with and hides behind other emotions, such as anger and fear, so that it is often hard to detect. Shame cannot be worked with in the same way as the other primary emotions.
We all carry sexual shame. Whether we grew up in the repressive purity culture of American Evangelical Christianity or not, we've all been taught in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that sex (outside of very specific contexts) is immoral and taboo.