“What Is Toxic Shame?” by Ann Bale

While the following post by Ann Bale was directed to those harmed through a partner’s sexual addiction, it applies to all those suffering from toxic shame, therefore, all abuse victims.

Ann blogs at Don’t Lose Hope https://sexaddictionpartners.wordpress.com.

“…Toxic shame is the feeling that you’re worthless at your core – so you deserve to be rejected, mistreated and ignored, despised and punished by the people in your life. These are damaging, erroneous beliefs.

Shame develops in response to being abused and unloved, especially by the people who are close to you.

Toxic shame often takes the following forms:

1. Feeling bad (utterly shameful) about something terrible that was done to you.

2. Feeling bad (utterly shameful) about choices and actions that belong to someone else. Here, the shame is “guilt by association” – even where the choices and behaviours have nothing at all to do with you.

3. Feeling stigmatized, or experiencing some form of prejudice, where you feel judged and less than other people. Here, the shame generally relates to feelings of inadequacy related to something beyond your control.

4.  Experiencing shame in response to the way someone else sees and judges you.

5. Experiencing shame because you have different outlooks and values from someone else.

6. Feeling awful (and wrong) because you have set and/ or enforced appropriate and healthy boundaries – boundaries which another individual isn’t happy with (usually because they want to control you and the situation).

7. Feeling ashamed of having and expressing emotions, and especially intense and/ or negative emotions.

8. Feeling ashamed of having and expressing legitimate needs, and asking for those needs to be met.

How to Cope with Toxic Shame

Self-compassion is the key to getting free of toxic shame.  It is making the choice to show compassion to yourself in situations where you feel like a failure, or inadequate, or where you hurt, or are suffering, or are struggling, or weak. It is making every effort to be kind to yourself, and being gentle, understanding and patient with yourself.

Something to Think About

‘Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourself.’ – Pema Chodron

Could you start to show this compassion to yourself [1]?”

[1]  Don’t Lose Hope, “What Is Toxic Shame?” by Ann Bale, 3/4/23, https://sexaddictionpartners.wordpress.com/2023/03/04/what-is-toxic-shame/.



Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women

14 responses to ““What Is Toxic Shame?” by Ann Bale

  1. Thank you for sharing this post on toxic shame and how it applies to abuse victims. It is essential to recognize that toxic shame can impact anyone who has experienced abuse. Shame can be a crippling emotion that leads to self-loathing, self-doubt, and a sense of worthlessness. However, this post rightly pointed out, self-compassion is the key to breaking free from toxic shame.

  2. Vielen Dank für diese bewegende Darstellung. Toxic Shame ist ein tief verwurzeltes Gefühl von Schuld und Scham und führt zur strukturellen Ablehnung bzw. Unterdrückung der eigenen Persönlichkeit. Man darf schlicht nicht sein, wie man ist. Dein Beitrag hat zu Recht darauf hingewiesen, dass Selbstmitgefühl der Schlüssel ist, um sich von giftiger Scham zu befreien.
    Liebe Grüße und weiterhin noch mehr von diesen besonderen Beiträgen, Marie

  3. Helpful post Anna,
    The mind can be our worst enemy, believing lies..
    The actions of others can be devastating to emotional health.. Lord help us to see that we are worthy of love and respect.

  4. Excellent article, well worth sharing, dear Anna.

  5. Pingback: “What Is Toxic Shame?” from Don’t Lose Hope – NarrowPathMinistries

  6. Glad you are tackling this topic

    • So many of us carry the heavy weight of shame around. But Christ, we know, offers hope to all who have been oppressed.

      Behold, at that time
      I will deal with all who afflict you…
      And gather those who were driven out;
      I will appoint them for praise and fame
      In every land where they were put to shame
      ” (Zeph. 3: 19).

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