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Ever since I discovered Brené Brown’s work a few years ago, I have been learning lots about shame.  There’s no good shame – shame erodes the very part of us that thinks growth is possible. It undermines our sense of love and belonging. It attacks the core of who we are. It is both a trigger and is triggered by rejection, loneliness, loss and trauma, and failure. It’s like a shark on a feeding frenzy – if you don’t address it quickly it will chew you up.

Lately, I’ve been learning about narcissists and how they abuse people around them. I found the following and I think it’s profound because it highlights both narcissistic abuse and the use of shame as an abuse tool. Unfortunately, I lost where I found it to give credit. When I find the source, I’ll update this post.


Something I rarely hear mentioned about narcissists is their very deliberate use of SHAMING. Narcissists make victims feel shame about WHO AND WHAT THEY ARE, so there is no way to make amends or remedy it.

The shame messages communicate: You are not good enough and can’t ever be good enough, because you are inherently defective. It doesn’t matter how much the victim give to the narcissist, she can’t EVER be good enough, so she feels trapped in a no win situation. Soon, the victim begins TO DISLIKE HERSELF, criticize herself, and she’s filled with self doubt, which destroys her self esteem.

(Shaming tactics include)… demeaning, belittling, withholding – including the silent treatment, stonewalling, withdrawing and leaving – manipulation, cheating, lying, AND BLAMING THE VICTIM. These behaviours trigger shame and makes the target fear abandonment. Sadly, long term shaming often wrongly teaches the victim that they deserve abandonment. This is why recovery from narcotic abuse is so hard and one of the reasons why the abused go back to the narcissist who abused them….somewhere, deep inside, they may falsely believe that they don’t deserve better or that a normal, happy relationship is even possible for them.

You only have the happiness you believe you deserve. Therapy, time, no contact with the narcissist, good support, and detached reflection on your relationship with the narcissist are the building blocks of recovery.


Note that shame is diffused and disempowered through speaking it out and finding safe, empathic, support. If you are experiencing this kind of abuse, please seek out professional help – you deserve to be healthy and whole.

(The Shame Shark was designed by Miranda Davis.)