Fear and Shame

By Greg Baer M.D.

July 6, 2015

Someone recently asked me to distinguish between fear and shame:

Diagram showing the difference between fear and shame

The primary wound for all of us—“primary” meaning both first in chronology and first in importance—is the lack of receiving sufficient Real Love, usually from infancy. Wounds need not result from active assaults, like yelling, hitting, sexual abuse. More often, in fact, we are wounded by the simple absence of the Real Love that is essential for our happiness, just as a human body can be wounded by the absence of a vitamin, or a plant can be injured and even killed by insufficient sunlight.

This lack of love is inherently and immediately painful—see Pain in the left column above, under “Lack of Unconditional Love”—much as the lack of air would be. And when we are in pain, we are always afraid—afraid that our pain will increase, the very thought of which is intolerable.

Moreover, when we are not loved, we unavoidably conclude—even before we could articulate the conclusion—that the only reason we are not loved is that we are not WORTH loving (see first box in the right column). And then we feel ashamed of being worthless—second box in the right column. This feeling is painful and generates even more fear.

And all these conditions inflame the others, as partially indicated by the double arrows. Our shame adds to our fear. When we are afraid, we perceive that as a weakness—as do others—which adds to our shame. Fear leads to more fear. It’s all a horrifying entanglement of judgments, pain, and fear.

In answer to the original question, fear and shame have the same mother, and then they become inextricable intertwined, like incestuous siblings or Siamese twins.

Only love can heal the original wounds and disentangle the life-choking results.

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Replace your fear & confusion with peace and happiness.


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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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