I don’t find shame enjoyable, I don’t suppose many people do. I don’t mean that shame feels good.

So let’s explore shame a little.

Shame is when we feel others disapproval – and agree with them that our behaviour wasn’t what it should be. Those who are ‘shameless’ don’t just do things that are disapproved of, they are also unaffected by others’ opinions. Shame has a sense of shared values. There is an agreement between the group and the individual – both believe the individual has behaved shamefully.

This agreement holds a promise. A promise of restoration.

That if the person who has behaved shamefully will do what is required then they may once again be able to hold their head up in the group. This means that the groups ideas of right and wrong can usually be spelt out. With shame the group members know where they stand, the code is relatively explicit: if you are a member of the group you are unlikely to be ‘caught out’.

This means that it is possible to examine what is regarded as shameful. The matter can be discussed. Shame provides clear information on the values of the group. It is possible for the individual to examine these and decided on their validity. With shame you are not to account for something you didn’t know about.

Most importantly shame is about behaviour.

It doesn’t mean the individual is bad, only that they have behaved badly.


Any group has codes of accepted (honourable) and unacceptable (shameful) behaviour. These codes hold the group together and allow us to have good relationships with others.


How have you experienced shame?

When have you experienced shame?

How has it affected your relationships?

Have their been ways of restoration provided in your experience?

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