Shame is a soul eating emotion


Oliver JR Cooper

Author, transformational writer, teacher, consultant and two thousand, five hundred in-depth articles highlighting human psychology and behaviour.


While I was looking through some of Carl Jung quotes, one that stood out was ‘“Shame is a soul eating emotion”. When I saw this, it reminded me of something that I said about toxic shame a number of years ago.

In at least two articles, I said that in the same way that acid destroys things, toxic shame will destroy someone’s sense of self. I don’t know whether he was talking about someone’s sense of self when he said ‘soul’, but in both cases, they are going to be greatly weakened.


The Second Meaning
Assuming that he was talking about someone’s sense of self, let’s take a closer look into why it would cause so much damage. When someone can experience shame and this is not a feeling that they more or less always experience, it will allow them to function in society.
It will prevent them from behaving in a shameless manner, which will enable them to take responsibility for their behaviour and to respect other people’s boundaries, amongst other things. Therefore, feeling bad will allow them to correct any behaviour that is destructive or infringes on others and, once they have done this, they will no longer need to feel bad.

A Very Different Experience
This type of shame could be described as healthy shame, whereas toxic shame could be described as unhealthy shame. The reason for this is that unlike normal shame, toxic shame won’t arise at certain times and then subside.
This type of shame will more or less always be there, causing someone to feel totally worthless. They will feel bad about themselves and they will believe that there is nothing that they can do change how they feel.

The Truth
At the same time, to say that this will just be a feeling wouldn’t be accurate, as it will be something that will have permeated their whole being. It is then not that they will feel worthless; they will be worthless.
Due to how they feel and how they see themselves, they will most likely have the need to hide themselves from others. This can mean that they will hide their true-self when they are around others and they can isolate themselves from others.

Suffering in Silence
Hiding who they are will be seen as the only way that other people will accept them. Revealing their true-self, on the other hand, will be seen as something that would cause them to be rejected and abandoned and thus, ostracised.
Thanks to how they feel, they can be used to feeling depressed and even suicidal, but it will be as if there is nothing that they can do. They will be in an invisible prison and ending their own life may be seen as the only way out.

Final Thoughts
If someone is loaded with toxic shame, it will probably mean that they experienced some kind of abuse and/or neglect during their early years. Their connection to their fellow human beings would have been severed, causing them to believe that there was something inherently wrong with them.
These early experiences would have separated them from others and they would have caused them to disconnect from themselves. The truth is that they are not worthless and what they went through at this stage of their life doesn’t have to define their life forever.