Shame around being dysfunctional.


Seeing it as proof you're a bad person. But more than that - with it being a core belief - toxic shame type of thing it's just more excruciating than words can say innit.

I grew up with terrible shame over the fact my Mum was so dysfunctional. We would regularly feel such shame my brother and I, publicly embarrassed so many times.

And I'm dysfunctional a good deal myself now. So, time to look at this shame.

Anyone got tips on what helps with this? Or how to unpick it?


@Teasel I understand about being publically embarrassed as my dad used to get drunk and humiliate me in public. I had a brother that was schizophrenic and for some reason I felt embarassed about that and also the fact that I am disabled with PTSD is sometimes something I feel ashamed of.

Until I learned that other peoples behaviors were no reflection on me and that my PTSD symptoms and struggles were normal considering the things I had experienced, I too suffered from toxic shame. I am not sure what will help you, but I suggest you keep reaching out. Hopefully someone wil have some good tips to share with you. I just wanted to say good for you for working on shame and cognitive distortions!!! It takes guts to confront these old feelings that we have carried around and I wish you much sucess and healing.


I think the thing that has helped me the most with this is to get myself very involved in situations where my dysfunction is less noticeable and can even be an asset. For instance, since I am so high anxiety, I tend to do well with certain activities that involve being a bit of a perfectionist such as organizing, writing, editing, proofreading and even tutoring ESL students, though this is best done in the form of correcting their papers since I can be a bit too much in person with a student who is struggling since every mistake matters to me. When I am doing these things, my anxiety issues actually can become good qualities and that is a completely different feeling from them being proof of how messed up I am. Those involved with me while I do these activities don't treat me like I am dysfunctional.

The truth is that after 33 years or more of having over the top anxiety and PTSD, I have found that I cannot change my social wiring. If those around me think of me as dysfunctional, I have to fight hard not to feel the same. So, getting away from as many people as I can who feel this way and positioning myself around people who can see what I have to offer in the world has been the best thing I can figure out to do.


I feel this shame so much as well.
sometimes to the point that therapy can have the opposite effects of what’s intended to do.
the more I find out what’s “wrong” with me, the more this shame grows.
It feels like the difference between other people and I increases. And I feel guilty for being broken like this.


I feel shame over people coming over, as I judge my ability to keep house. It is a work-in-progress: so I don't invite people over. It's just family, who I feel ok around, here.

I feel shame, here, in my town I live in, as my abusive-towards-me ex lives here in the village, as does another crusty old guy who sexually assaulted me when I was 16.

My mum used to embarrass me, a lot too, she was very socially graceless and quite hostile to people, sometimes, and me, a lot, and she used to say to me, often "You should be ashamed of yourself" and I really internalized that.

I've been sexually abused, by a lot of different people, when I was a homeless girl, mostly, before my ex snared me, at 16 and knocked me up. And the shame from that is very deep, too. I'm chipping away at it, but it does affect me a lot, especially in this town, which is very small, and everything reminds me of my 20 abuse situation with ex and the other SA gross guy, so I struggle to go out here, and generally don't.

It helps having a partner who really loves me and appreciate me and tells me, often, and whenever my adult-and-teen children appreciate me and let me know they love me.

And it help, when I do yoga, everyday and I feel good about myself, doing that, and I just started pilates on top of yoga and when I'm creative and
/or manage a functional day of house keeping.

I used to sing a lot, even professionally, and that helped too.


I feel NOW is the perfect time to start breaking this down for yourself. I'm saying NOW because so many people who were able to keep all their insecurities behind a happy face are now faced with too much time alone and finding the facades starting to slip.

The book @Sophy (in lockdown) mentioned was a huge game-changer for me. I didn't even realize the depth of my shame and how it affected my thinking and actions until I read that book.

It's not easy starting to talk back to toxic shame, but so very worth it. Hope you find something that works for you too.


@mylunareclipse I felt like that reading healing the shame that binds me. It left me feeling so utterly broken and defective and hopeless. I decided to stop reading it.

Glad it helped you and @ladee @Sophy (in lockdown)

What was the gist of how it helped heal the shame?

I enjoyed Brene Brown's books well enough.

I found practising Metta meditation is the things that's had the most profound impact on self hatred - it's practising loving kindness to self and others - and it really softened my self hatred, found some genuine fondness and caring.

And strangely, or maybe not I don't know. But being so isolated, has massively helped me to care less what others think, and as I've tended most definitely to thinking others view me negatively, being away from others has allowed me to relax a bit, and begin wondering what I think of things instead of what others think.

Are these related to what I'm talking about?

I guess I'm thinking too - in a way it feels like I'm done running, am so stuck, that looking at things seems the last resort. Something like that.

I don't really remember a time where I didn't somehow defective. I mean, it wasn't as bad when I was younger as it became when the csa started...

@mumstheword I relate quite a bit. Am not in the same place I grew up. But am in the same place as other traumas.

I'm really glad you have your husband and kids ♡

I do feel shame over having others over too! And fear, terrible fear, it doesn't feel entirely logical the fear, I'm not sure what it's about.

I guess too vulnerable.

There are things about my current lack of mental health and functioning as well as all the past stuff. And on top of that my feelings about that, and how I ought to be able to snap out of it.

I guess that's the metta feelings you were talking about @Sophy (in lockdown) hey.
It's years ago since I read that book @Teasel - I can't remember the details, only that I found it helpful to have someone addressing shame head on. But it makes sense that it could feel like too much - like getting flooded by it.

Doing the loving-kindness exercise sounds great... because yeah, loving kindness is the best antidote to shame.

There's also a saying that goes something like "the best disinfectant is sunlight" which means that ultimately, by sharing stuff, by putting it out in the open, you take away shame's power. It's very challenging and you should only do it if you feel safe enough, but ultimately shame lives on secrecy and thrives in hiding. Putting it out in the sunlight is what can kill it for good.

And yes! Meta-emotions... make it all just a bit more complicated, as if it wasn't already complicated enough ?

Remember to be patient with yourself... You're doing great work addressing this stuff. Give yourself time to process the fallout.

@Freemartin said a very wise thing today "Healing and processing only occurs within the window of tolerance".

So push yourself but also try and stay within that window of tolerance, to give your soul the time and space it needs to heal.