Toxic Shame: What Is It & How To Heal From Toxic Shame?

Last Update on May 13, 2022 : Published on May 14, 2022
Toxic Shame

Shame on you!

Heard this before? Someone said this to you before, perhaps you said it to yourself? ‘Shame’ what’s Shame to you? Well, to me shame is something I feel when I am very critical of myself, certain actions of mine that I’m not proud of. Basically, you feel ashamed when you evaluate yourself and find some things that are non-negotiable for you.

What do you do when you feel ashamed of yourself?

Ideally, you should acknowledge your mistake, accept your shortcomings, work on being a better version of yourself and move on in life. But, do you really do that? I don’t think so! Most people do not know how to deal with shame and they continue to dig the wound until it becomes toxic.

Yup, Most of us have tortured ourselves with toxic shame. What’s even sadder is that people don’t even realize what they are doing to themselves and their mental health. No one should be living with toxic shame and today we shall address the same.

Shall we begin?

What Is Toxic Shame?



Toxic shame is when you begin telling yourself repeatedly that you are good for nothing, you are worthless. Toxic shame is born out of your own beliefs which are based on what other people have to say about you.

When you start internalizing everything and anything that someone else says about you. You believe in others more than you believe in yourself. Shame becomes toxic when you hold on the criticism and make them your core beliefs.

We get criticized many times in our entire life especially when we are kids. Now, that’s a very fragile stage and at that time if you take every bit of criticism to our heart, it’s sure to turn into toxic shame. You should know whom to take criticism from and whom not to.

How Is Toxic Shame Different From Toxic Guilt?

Shame and guilt can easily be confused with one another. Today, we will find a way to tell these two apart. Let’s begin with guilt, it’s when you know you have made a mistake and you are ready to bear the consequences and try not to repeat the same mistake again.

When Shame is concerned, rather than focusing on your actions you focus on what others think of you. You take those negative beliefs (of other people) and make them yours. For Example if someone calls you ‘useless’, you take it to your heart and believe that you are useless.

Guilt will tell you that your actions are wrong, shame will tell you, you are wrong!

How Toxic Shame Affects Us?

The word toxic itself tells us that it’s not good for us. Shame becomes toxic when you constantly tell yourself things like you’re not worth it, you’re useless, you’re not good enough, etc. engaging in constant negative self-talk is one of the leading causes to turning normal shame into toxic shame.

Toxic shame can impact your life in many different ways like;

  • It causes emotional distress (toxic shame fosters internalized anger, self-loathing, feelings of embarrassments, sadness and worry, etc.)
  • It has a negative effect on your relationships (you build a wall around you so that no one gets to know how useless of a person you are )
  • It encourages harmful behaviors like self-harm, substance abuse, risk taking behavior, problematic sleeping and eating habits, etc.

How To Heal From Toxic Shame?


Healing from toxic shame is very necessary for you if you want to lead a happy and healthy life. To help you with just that, here are a few ways you can deal with toxic shame;

  • Challenge your negative thoughts. You are not your mistakes.
  • Identify and replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk.
  • Having compassion for yourself and treat yourself with kindness
  • Learn to express your thoughts and feelings. When in a relationship, do talk to your partner about you feelings and thoughts
  • Talk to a mental health professional. When toxic shame stops you from living your life peacefully, know that it’s time to talk to a professional.

That’s All Folks!

I hope this blog about toxic shame helps you understand the gravity of the impact toxic shame has on your mental health.  Toxic shame can be the root cause of various mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Therefore, it’s important to know how to heal from toxic shame.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and believe in yourself.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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