Why do i feel ashamed to express my emotions

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

What shame really is

Why do some people feel ashamed to express their emotions?
Why would a person sometimes want to say something yet become to ashamed to say it?

In my previous article about dealing with shame i said that shame is the kind of feeling a person gets hen he believes that something is wrong with him. Guilt happens when a person believes that he has done a mistake but shame happens when a person believes that he is the mistake.

This is why survivors of rape might feel shameful around others even though no body knows about their past. It's just the fact that their minds believe that something must be terribly wrong with them else those problems wouldn't have happened to them. See why do men rape women

Now that you understood the basic concept of shame it's time to connect this with the problem of not being able to express your emotions.

You might be considering it a weakness

Sometimes the main reason for not wanting to express your emotions or feeling ashamed because of them is considering such emotions weakness. Let's take a crystal clear example in order to make the other grey ones clear.

Since their childhood men are told that crying isn't a manly act and that real men must never cry. Under this kind of pressure a man will grow up believing that crying is shameful because it would mean that he is a weak person. See the benefits of crying.

Now crying was the clear example but when it comes to real life situations things can be more grey. A person might consider the act of expressing his emotions a from of a weakness and this is why he might never express his emotions.

Each person gathers different beliefs about the world as he grows up, thanks to the different cultures and the various methods of upbringing. Now once a person believes that a certain emotion makes him week he is very likely to never express it as a result of shame.

In some cultures for example feelings of love might be considered weakness. The man who fell in love with a woman might be ashamed of his feelings and so he might never express them. This doesn't mean that a person who has such a belief will never marry but it only means that he won't get that romantic not to be considered weak. See Why some men are not romantic.

You think you are defective

But what about ordinary emotions that are widely accepted in your culture yet you are too ashamed to express them?
In such a case your original feelings of shame , according to the theory described above, could have made you conclude that anything connected to you is inferior.

In other words because you believed that something is wrong with you revealing your emotions to others was considered shameful because it might let them discover your real truth. See also Inferiority complex psychology.

By making you feel ashamed whenever you are about to express your emotions your mind can protect you from others by preventing them from knowing more about you.

This shame won't just stop at your emotions but it will extend to include anything that is related to you. You will be ashamed to be different or to stand out just because you won't want people to know that you are inferior.

Wrong beliefs about hurting others

In many cultures people are taught not to offend others and to be nice to them. While those teachings are great sometimes they are enforced in an extreme way that results in making people ashamed of their emotions.

If for example a person who have been fed with such negative beliefs wanted to give constructive criticism to another person at work then he might not be able to do it. In such a case that person would believe that wanting to criticize others ,in a good way, is a shameful act.

So as you have just seen the causes for that problem can be different from one person to another but in all cases it's the person's negative beliefs that should be blamed.

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Want to know more?

The connection between shame and self esteem

Dealing with guilt and shame

Overcoming inferiority complex

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