Session Three


If you want to fly, you need to break free from the stuff that weighs you down – your inner shame

Could inner shame be behind why I am sometimes depressed – Session Three

A study on the ins and outs of inner shame.

This is the third teaching session by Bill and Wilma Watson, which is a continuation of the previous session on uncovering inner shame and answering the question: Why do I feel stressed, anxious and sometimes depressed?

In the last session we began to uncover inner shame. It’s a major issue that keeps us from experiencing God’s love, being able to love ourselves, and sharing God’s love with others. We discussed the many faces of shame, exposing it as the root that fuels all negative emotions, habits and addictions.

In the previous session – part one on uncovering the many faces of inner shame we saw that:

  1. Inner shame creates a need to control yourself and others.
  2. Inner shame shows itself through either a desire to please or rebellion.
  3. Inner shame can show itself through relationship breakdown.
  4. Inner shame is behind abuse.
  5. Inner shame is the root of all addictions.

In this session we’ll continue to seek to uncover more of the outworking of inner shame in our everyday life.

Dr Brene Brown studied shame for six years and this is what she concluded:

I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.

Our desire and need to be loved can’t be separated from feeling fearful

We all long to be loved, and we all, at some time or another, struggle with fear, anxiety and stress.

The type of fear I’ll be referring to in this teaching is not the fear of flying or the fear of spiders. Or even my fear of hyenas.

Why hyenas? There were no roads where we lived in Ethiopia, only walking trails. I was riding a mule home alone on one of these trails. It got very dark and I found myself lost, with hyenas howling nearby.

I knew that the nationals feared hyenas. They brought their animals into their small thatched houses before dark to protect them. I confess I was afraid and tired after several hours on a mule!

A mule like the one you see Bill sitting on in the photo.

I cried out to God and the mule stopped still. It refused to go any further!

I’m not sure if it was the hyenas or an angel that stopped the mule. I didn’t see an angel, but I felt the presence of God. So I let go of the reins and the mule turned around itself and took me to the right path and headed home.

6. Inner shame shows itself through insecurity and not feeling safe

So let us ask you? Is there someone who…

  • You did not feel safe with?
  • Drove you to perform?
  • Didn’t hold you?
  • Didn’t tell you they loved you?
  • Put you down?

Insecurity and not feeling safe creates a fear of not being in control. Let’s see how that fear relates to inner shame.

Inner shame is at the root of the tree and fear and insecurity are the trunk.
The branches are your inner critic and the fruit is how you cope in life with covering up your shame.

God does not want you rooted in inner shame, but rooted and grounded in His love and acceptance

In Ephesians 3:17 & 18 (Amp) we read the Apostle Paul prayer:

May He (God) grant… His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith.. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love … [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]…

In the next session we’ll show you how you can be free from inner shame and, in the final session, we’ll see how to not just know about God’s love but to experience His love personally.

We’ve been looking at the fact that inner shame has many faces – here is another one that we see played out in our everyday life.

7. Inner shame creates a need within to look to the outside for happiness and validation

We all need to check the motives of our heart and ask ourselves: “Do I gain my validation from my achievements and other people, or do I get it based on what God says about me?”

Perfectionism is an attempt to feel loved and accepted through works

In order to find happiness and validation inner shame drives us to perform in an attempt to feel loved and accepted through works.

I’m not a perfectionist – I just like to get it right!

Our desire to be loved and accepted is behind perfectionism. You may be asking, “Is a spirit of excellence the same as perfectionism?” NO! A spirit of excellence is when you are secure in God’s love and you seek to do your best! Perfectionism on the other hand, is performance in order to feel good about yourself and to get acceptance from others, and from God.

This is the outworking of inner shame for someone who is trying to perform in order to find acceptance.

Also, you will find that when you feel up – you are critical and blame everyone else. And when you feel down – you blame yourself. If you strive to feel good about yourself through works, you can open yourself up to feelings of anxiety and inadequacy and when you dwell on your failures open yourself up to being depressed.

Depression leaves one feeling defeated, inadequate and not being good enough. The root is inner shame!

Whereas some people find their validation, acceptance and love through their works, others find their validation, acceptance and love through helping others.

Rescuing can be an attempt to be validated and feel loved and accepted through helping others

Do you ever feel that the harder you try you can’t earn the other person’s love? Being a rescuer can sometimes make you feel that way.

A rescuer is someone who takes responsibility for fulfilling the needs of others in an attempt to feel valued, loved and wanted themselves.

It’s the outworking of inner shame. It can be seen when a parent seeks to rescue an adult child, or a person who seeks to rescue and fulfil the needs of their friend, or when a husband or wife, as a rescuer, seeks to fulfil the needs of their partner.

I was a rescuer. My parents would be fighting continually and I found myself being there for them in their pain rather than them being there to meet my needs as a child.

It’s always good to check our motive when helping others, asking ourselves, “Am I only helping in order to make me feel good inside?”

Let’s look at another way we deal with shame, and that is by covering up and wearing a mask to hide our real selves.

8. Inner shame causes us to hide our real selves

We, even Christians, often wear a mask for fear of being rejected if people really knew what we were like inside.

Fear of rejection and fear of failure play a major role in keeping us from showing our real selves. As a result of our low self-worth, we learn to cope by either being assertive or non-assertive.

A non-assertive approach

The person with a non-assertive approach sees self-worth as being based on what people think about them.

They fear rejection, and being disconnected.

An assertive approach

The person with an assertive approach, on the other hand, strives to feel good about themselves by meeting certain standards.

They fear failure, not getting it right.

Whether you adopt a non-assertive approach or an assertive approach or both – they become a cycle that you can’t get off.

9. Inner shame creates a cycle you can’t get off

In an assertive approach, fear of failure compels you to control yourself and others. You drive yourself to perform in order to feel good about yourself, and when you don’t measure up to your standard, you can become critical of yourself and others.

To compensate, you try harder by being legalistic and, when that does not work, you become angry, defensive, lonely and depressed.

The cycle will begin again in order to feel good about yourself

It’s worth noting that a person who isn’t into performance and is unmotivated, can still have a fear of failure and be in this cycle. Also, a person can switch from having an assertive to a non-assertive approach. Many, including Christians, are caught up in this cycle of inner shame.

I have been asked, “Is there a difference between male and female in the way they handle shame?”

10. Inner shame will feel the same for everyone, but is organised differently by gender

Inner shame for women

Inner shame for women can be a striving to achieve unattainable, competing expectations and feeling that if they don’t, then they are not good enough.

Inner shame for men

Inner shame for men is outworked so that they are not perceived as weak – that’s why men find it hard to admit to faults. And sometimes they find it hard to release women in their God-given gifting lest they be perceived as weak.

As we conclude this session, let’s look at the sources of inner shame. Where did this inner shame come from?

The sources of inner shame

The first source is incessant inner shame. This refers to the continuous cycle of low self-worth manifested from generation to generation. Often secrets are hidden, unaddressed and unresolved, so shame is passed from one generation to the next.

Incessant inner shame – through passing it on

When a parent is not adequately nurtured, they were or are not able to pass onto you a sense of self-worth for they didn’t receive it themselves.

The second source is induced inner shame. This happens when a person uses his/her power or position and authority to force another person to perform in order to meet his/her needs. It’s abuse!

Induced inner shame – through abuse

The third source is individual inner shame. This results from guilt and regret from sins you commit. Inner shame can also have its roots in false guilt, which is when you are innocent of something yet feel guilty about it.

Individual inner shame – through guilt

The fourth source is imposed inner shame. Inner shame is inflicted upon you through rejection from the womb where you felt you were a mistake. Or the rejection of others, who make you feel that you are not good enough.

Imposed inner shame – through rejection

We have found while praying for people that rejection, as a result of school bullying, is a big problem in our society today! This is an example of a source of imposed inner shame.

I was brought up on a farm and went to a small country school of around 20 students from grade one to six with one teacher.

There was another boy and myself in grade one. The teacher did not like my father so took it out on me. The first day at school he asked me my name. When I told him he said, “I don’t like that name, what’s your second name?” I replied, “Grace.” “I will call you Grace from now on.”

I struggled to read as I was forced to stand and read in front of all the other 20 students in the school. When I made a mistake the students would laugh and the teacher would put me under his desk for reacting.

This gave inner shame a foothold in my life.

I trust you’ve been enlightened as we have seen inner shame uncovered and exposed. Naming shame and uncovering it is the first step to freedom. Don’t miss the next session as we will discover how to be free from inner shame.


Can’t wait to see how you can be free from inner shame? Go to:

Don’t miss any of the teaching:

How can I be sure I’ll go to heaven?
Why am I so stressed?
Why am I sometimes depressed?
How to stop being so hard on myself  
How break free from a low self-worth
How do I let go of past hurts
How to break free from bad relationships
How to break free from family weaknesses
How to remove self-defense walls?
How to deal with a past loss

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