Our opinion of ourselves, based on other people’s perceptions is what makes up our self esteem.

We may not realize it but we are given instructions in every social interaction that we have with others, even if we are unable to communicate due to our current stage of development. The instructions we receive or hear from others can be positive, negative or benign.

For example your peers are giving you an instruction that they don’t feel you to be athletic or “good enough” if you are the last one chosen for a sport during recess. If your boss praises you at work he/she is giving you an instruction that you’ve done a good job. Parents can give an instruction that their children are sloppy if they keep nagging their son or daughter to clean up their room.

We will continue being a reflection of what others believe about us, as opposed to what we believe about ourselves, until we come to an authentic and unclouded idea of who we are. Without an independent outlook on ourselves we will buy in and believe the opinions, judgements, and instructions of others which could very well be a lie. Ultimately we develop a sense of shame about who we are and our place in the world, through this consequent development of a negative self-perception.

Anorexia or frantic overachievement are a few ways shame can manifest itself. It is more a sensibility then it is an emotion or a condition or even something that you can put your finger on. A man or woman suffering with anorexia has a great need to disappear when they feel badly about themselves. Whereas, someone who has an unbridled need to be noticed and validated struggles with narcissism. A repeated cycle of self-destruction occurs in the recidivist addict in order to punish himself. Consistent confirmation that s/he doesn’t deserve his/her mate or doesn’t deserve to be loved is sought out by the serial adulterer.

Shame is a sensibility more than a situation and it is insidious. This sensibility can be addressed as a consequence of underlying issues — in particular, issues of self-perception and esteem.

One way to overcome this is by taking a conscious look at who we are and then gather evidence that either confirms or denies the personal belief system that we have put together for ourselves. Is your shame driven by a concrete and tangible truth that you can put your finger on, or is your shame driven by a negative self-perception that is driven by a reflection of others?

Guilt is an attachment to judgment. It is a wasted emotion. Once we discover who it is that is judging us we can break free of the evil mindset of guilt. Shame is an attachment to negative self-perception that has been fostered by the perceptions and opinions of others. Shame is a wasted sensibility.

Once we make the conscious choice to live a life that is not a reflection of what others think of us, but a reflection of our authentic self only then will we be able to break free of the tormenting perception of shame.