Free Yourself from the Stress of Misplaced Shame

By Greg Baer M.D.

December 18, 2018

I spoke with a woman, Darlene, who was always unhappy. I learned that when she was a child, about ages eight through twelve, she had been sexually abused by her father, cousin, and uncle. She said her father had sex with her "only once," and her uncle behaved badly only because he "drank a lot." But she was riddled with shame. She felt dirty, vile, and worthless. She couldn't even make Real Love calls, because who would want to talk to someone as worthless as she?

"You feel like you had a part in what happened, don't you?" I asked.


"You believe that somehow you should have stopped what happened to you."


"You were injured by people you trusted, and now they've made YOU feel responsible. You've been taught to live a huge lie."

As children, we have a right to trust that certain adults will unconditionally love us. In general, however, they don't. They manipulate us, speak angrily to us, criticize us, and more, but then they tell us they love us. So then we don't feel loved but feel guilty for that, because these people we trusted said they loved us. After all, we reason unconsciously, if these trusted people tell us they love us, and we don't feel it, something must be wrong with us. We feel ashamed for the lies other people tell us.

We're taught that it's our responsibility to take care of ourselves, so when other people do hurt us–primarily by being unloving–we feel responsible for our pain and ashamed that we didn't do something to prevent or stop it.

We're ashamed of so many things that are not our responsibility in any way:

  • We're ashamed of feeling powerless, which is unavoidable in childhood. But once that feeling of powerlessness and shame is imprinted on us early in life, we believe it's part of who we are. We don't just feel powerless. We believe we are powerless, and we carry that lie and the accompanying shame into adulthood. We keep being limited–even destroyed–by feelings and assessments that are based on lies.
  • We're ashamed of anything that even hints of sexual misconduct, even if we had no choice in the matter. If we participated in socially unapproved sex–even if molested as children–then we feel dirty and shameful.
  • We're ashamed that we can't control everything that happens to us, which is impossible.
  • We're ashamed that we don't feel unconditionally loved to our roots, which was never our job to accomplish in the first place. We feel ashamed for not possessing a feeling that was never ours to generate.

That's a great deal of shame we carry with us, and most of it is based on lies. What an unnecessary and destructive weight, which prevents us from being happy.


Free Yourself

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Don't get fooled by the "lies" that fill you with shame and stress .

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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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