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Generational Shame

Shame passes down the generations

Shame passes generationally like a genetic trait. It is caused by family secrets passed down parent to child, parent to child.

Fear of abandonment lies beneath the shame.

Patterns of emotional denial go back many generations. In dysfunctional families, legitimate needs for security, love, nurturance, and guidance are not met or met inconsistently.

Children are taught not to tell the family secret, talk about their feelings, show affection, be angry, confront anyone, disagree, show vulnerability, admit fear, or ask for help as they drown.

They learn that they must meet certain standards to be accepted, that they must meet the approval of others, that they are unworthy of love and caring as they are, and that life is as it is and there is nothing they can do about it.

After such a childhood, one enters adulthood without a sense of security and trust.

There is an emptiness inside and it is that seeking to fill those empty parts and unmet needs that leads to addictive lifestyles. There is a feeling that there is something terribly wrong with them which is the feeling that their parents owned and passed to them.

The pain is more than they can consciously bear.

Left untreated, shame-based individuals marry those with many of the same dysfunctional traits of their family of origin.

After years of learning the rules of the dysfunctional family, they are ready to go out into the world and start a dysfunctional family of their own. They find a relationship that complements their own misbeliefs and shame.

Shame comes through abuse

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Shame is learned through repeated episodes of abuse, accusation and blaming, judging and criticizing, withholding, and denial.

Abuse plays a major role in shame formation. Abuse may take the form of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

It may be neglect, vicarious abuse, being subject to perfectionism, rigid beliefs, the no-talk rule, triangulation, and double messages.

These families have an inability to play, a high tolerance for inappropriate behavior, and possibly enmeshment.

Through abuse, radical misbeliefs take hold in the minds of those abused.

They become foundational beliefs about who they are, about relationships, and about the world.

Abuse victims talk to themselves in the language of shame.

It defines their existence and relationships. It is a language learned in their first human interactions, abusive ones, and the language that continues with them into adulthood.

Continue on to Part 4 –A Shame-based Life


“I work with individuals to actually find themselves in Christ and have their lives truly function well in Him. Often I am serving those most hurt by the world – those who have experienced severe trauma and abuse and helping them to find complete healing from the pain and the memories.

I have seen the Lord heal hundreds. Nothing has been too difficult for Him.”

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