I think shame and a feeling of being bad or unacceptable come after learning we are separate. We all have to learn this, like it or not. Then, if we are accepted in our separateness, we have a chance to not be filled with shame and a longing to be better in some vague way. People who had miserable, abusive childhoods were obviously not given this and in fact are given multiple messages that they are bad. That is the essence of shame, that we are somehow bad in a core kind of way. Yet, there are non-abusive homes in which the parents do not know how to let their children know that they are okay in their being different from them. But some special parents do not need their children to be identical to them, to mirror how they wish they were. My mother was such a person. She never studied psychology but knew in her heart in a truly wise way.
Aleta Edwards, Psy.D.
I am a psychotherapist in private practice, with a strong interest in shame and perfectionism. I will periodically post my thoughts about these topics and other observations relating to emotional health.