Shame, an emotion that makes you invisible

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Robert Maurer
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Shame, an emotion that makes you invisible

Shame wants to make us invisible and, to do so, it is capable of implementing an infinite number of strategies. But what lies behind this emotion?

Last update: April 29, 2020

The person who feels ashamed experiences severe malaise in an attempt to deny himself in order to adapt to the expectations of others. "What will she think of me if I say what I really feel?", "I hope they don't ask me questions, I would feel bad having to answer in front of everyone" or "I can't speak in front of an audience, I get too nervous" are expressions very common of those who live let the shame you control your life.



Trying to always go unnoticed, avoiding any moment in which we could attract attention or refuse invitations to say one's opinion, are all mechanisms activated by this feeling. Shame wants make us invisible and, to do so, is capable of implementing an infinite number of strategies. But what lies behind this emotion? What is its origin?

"One of the most powerful emotions in the world is shame and represents the fear of not being good enough."

-Brené Brown-

Shame and its obstacles

Shame is the enemy of visibility, of presence. A difficult emotion that arises to hide who we are, because fear or insecurity have suggested that things will go wrong for us.

According to Doctor of Psychology Maria José Pubill, the person who feels ashamed lives terrified by the fear that others will discover his weaknesses, that is, that they reveal his true being.

The seed that gives rise to shame tends to be found in experiences lived in childhood or adolescence.


The origin of this emotion is often hidden behind an experience that the person perceives as wrong, in which he did not behave as he should or in which his behavior was not normal. The sense of uselessness and invalidity linked to this experience lead her to no longer want to show herself imperfect in front of others. The fear of her is so strong that sometimes the blockade arises as a defense to protect herself. There is also growing frustration at not being able to be the person she wants.


Well, feeling ashamed implies on the one hand experiencing emotions such as guilt and fear, and on the other, mechanisms such as the search for perfection and control to overcome the feeling of inadequacy. The problem is that instead of helping, they too become an obstacle to growth and evolution.

Going deeper, we will realize how shame also implies a lack of respect and tolerance towards oneself, as well as a lack of self-esteem.

Shame and self-esteem: how are they related?

Shame is the fear of being and showing what one is, the choice of being invisible to avoid becoming the object of criticism or being labeled as "invalid". Feeling this emotion implies a lack of respect and tolerance towards oneself and, consequently, a low self-esteem typical of those who want to stay in the background.

It envelops the person in an aura of negativity and self-contempt, making her feel frail and weak rather than angry about it.


Feeling ashamed doesn't just mean not feeling comfortable in your own skin, but also not recognizing oneself and gradually losing the sense of who one is. By doing so, the initiative and the desire to lead the rudder of one's life, as well as the feeling of personal power, are gradually extinguished.

Those who feel this emotion put the evaluation of themselves into the hands of others because he can only look at himself through the eyes of others. He lives outside of himself, thinking about what others will say, feeling anxious every time he realizes he is not in possession of his ego. His life is full of suffering and needs.

The person living in shame denies himself to fit what others believe or expect from him.


Put aside the fear to become visible again

Although this emotion is considered one of the most complex, it is possible to work on it to reduce its presence and make it disappear. How do you overcome shame? How can you become visible again, rediscover your value?

The first step is to recognize and accept that we are ashamed and that it is part of our emotional universe. Once identified, the ideal is to reflect on its consequences, on the weight it has in our life and on how it limits us, what prevents us from doing.

If we analyze the situation with sincerity, we will discover that we have become invisible to our eyes and that we evaluate ourselves according to parameters decided by others. The truth is that there are no correct or wrong parameters but only those chosen by us, just like the path we wish to take.


The next step is to get to know each other, connect with ourselves and show ourselves as we are. In other words, being visible again. Well, it won't be easy after years of hiding behind a character who acted according to the will of others. The good news is that it's never too late to be ourselves again.

Identifying the situation that gave rise to everything will help us, making us go back to the moment when we suffered and wanted more. This starting point will be the key to understanding the depth of our wound, which is nothing more than having betrayed ourselves and believing that we have disappointed others.

"To overcome shame is to become an adult being capable of transforming himself into the king or queen of a new kingdom: one's own ego".

-Maria José Pubill-


A very good exercise to get back to being visible is to stand in front of the mirror and look at each other, regardless of what others might think. What do we see? How are we? What are our qualities? What does the person in front of us need? The idea is to get rid of expectations, of those mental traps that prevent us from being ourselves and gaining security. We are no better or worse than anyone and the solution is not to compare ourselves to others, but to recognize and feel valid.

Initially we may feel a strong anger towards the person who complained to us what we did not do well. To free her, we can write or think what we would say to her. In this way, we will come into contact with the weight that we carry inside and then release it.

Feeling ashamed involves a lot more than having been hurt at a particular moment. This emotion causes us to become slaves to the expectations of others, to despise ourselves and, ultimately, to be invisible. To defeat it, it is therefore essential to learn to connect with oneself in order to value who we are, obtaining security. We always remember that in life you don't have to be perfect to feel good.

“What is the seal of freedom achieved? Don't feel ashamed in front of yourself anymore ”.

-Friedrich Nietzsche-

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