Shame: Where Does It Come From?

Where does shame develop?

We have already mentioned how we are created with needs. This creates a sense of “general” shame that, in the context of a loving, nurturing, affirming, and secure environment, leads to a balance in relationships with God, others, and ourselves. This is the path to maturity and integrity. However, if those same needs are realized in a context of powerlessness, unmet needs, abandonment, abuse, and fear, we can be led to discount ourselves and become emotionally distant from people. We may then exhibit the symptoms mentioned above as we try to cover how we feel about ourselves, hoping that nobody notices the truth. What is created is a phony self - the person we show to people. We avoid our needs because our neediness is wrong and something that only seems to hurt us.

Who are our shamers?

These are the things that create core wounds in us. At the depth of our created being, there is a spot where God meets with His image within us. The core wounds are those messages we receive from others and ourselves that create a distance between the image of God in us and God himself. We interpret things said and done to us in a way that leaves us pushing God away because we feel our unworthiness and interpret it as wrong. So, where do we hear such messages?


  • Not taking responsibility for their children.
  • Not feeling pride in their children.
  • Not finding joy in the child

These are the needs of children. When they are not treated in ways that affirm that they are cared for and enjoyed, they begin to question the validity and goodness of themselves and their existence.

Shaming ourselves
We do this by:

  • Discounting our strengths and abilities
  • Magnifying flaws
  • Judging ourselves by undefined ideals - Other peoples’ behaviour, unrealistic expectations
  • Confusing what we do with who we are

Other people
When we hear certain comments and attitudes from friends and family often enough we begin to internalize these as definitions of who we are. Damaging comments and attitudes deepen our sense of shame as we question our acceptability before God and people.

The Lies of Satan
Satan does all he can to keep us trapped in shame. By doing so he keeps us from being as effective for God as we could be. His desire is to keep us feeling as distant from God as possible. He will remind us of failures, cause us to stumble, and distract us from the truth of how God sees us.