Shame in the Body
How Does Shame Show Up In The Body?
Feminine Shame shows up in the physical body in many different ways. The way it shows up is unique to each individual. However, the main thing about how shame shows up in the body is that it will feel seemingly unrelated. How could shame impact posture or lead to the formation of chronic dis-eases such as adrenal fatigue or digestive challenges?
The answer is because of the impacts shame has on our nervous system and on our energy. Chances are those pesky “mystery symptoms” you experience or that diagnosis you received could be greatly improved by unraveling the legacy of Feminine Shame you are carrying.
What is Shame?
Shame is a mysterious, insidious, and shape-shifting emotion. It’s deeper than guilt, which is an awareness of wrongdoing and a sense of remorse. Shame is an internalization of guilt, wherein you believe there’s something inherently wrong about you. Shame and guilt are quite similar and damaging to our mental health.
Shame involves silence, secrecy, a fear of being seen, a fear of expressing, a fear of being found out. These painful, intense emotions can be very isolating, while making us feel badly and feel small.
In a nutshell, we’ve constructed a universal baseline for ourselves regarding conduct, appearance, etc. Then we assume everyone else knows it, too, and is fiercely measuring us up against it. Since it’s an impossible mark, we’re perpetually in conflict with ourselves and ashamed of our shortcomings and how they also influence those around us.
Internalizing False Beliefs
The key here is the internalization and making it a story about ourselves. This creates immense stress, creates a new tainted lens for us to view the world, and creates body armor and habits.
Acting from this place creates a cycle of more shame and more circumstances and situations to perpetuate the shame and the beliefs we’re now holding about ourselves and our lives.
Toxic shame is a vicious cycle with many facets.
Feminine Shame Lives in the Body
The body is transient and ever-changing. It’s passive, shifting, impermanent, just like the moon. We resist aging, we resist our bodies changing, we are ashamed of bodily functions and go to great lengths to hide the fact that we may produce odors, excrete waste, and make sounds we cannot control.
We’re programmed to mistrust and dislike that which is in flux. As humans, and women especially, our very nature is in flux. So even without the added external shame, we’re carrying these subconscious beliefs about ourselves. The Spiral Principle is all that is transient, shifting, passive, and cyclical, like the moon. The Triangle Principle is all that is fixed, structured, active, and linear, like the sun.
We’ve been taught to celebrate structure, outward expression, productivity, even flow, and action. We’ve been taught to view it as safe, while anything that is transient, passive, and changeable is deemed unsafe and something of which to be wary.
This is something I refer to as Feminine (or Spiral) Shame, which impacts us all regardless of gender or physical anatomy. Learn more about Feminine Shame and the fear of the transient.
How shame affects us will differ among people who experience shame or are the recipients of shaming behavior.
Frequently Asked Questions About Feminine Shame
What is Feminine Shame?
What is Feminine Shame:
Shame is an often misunderstood state that we do our best to avoid – and about which we rarely speak! However, it is a natural, necessary response that arises when we perceive our sense of safety, belonging, contentment, and/or joy to be in jeopardy. It motivates us to make change so that we may repair our sense of safety, belonging, contentment, and/or joy.
Feminine Shame, a phenomenon and concept created by InnerSpark, is when we perceive ourselves, in our innate, natural state, to be the barrier towards our sense of safety, belonging, contentment, and/or joy simply because of our existence and presence. It is an intense and deeply held resistance, aversion, resentment, and fear towards anything that is soft, transient, cyclical, fluid, passive, nurturing, intuitive, an/or emotional in nature.
It is a shame towards that which is natural in a world attempting to get us on board with what’s “normal.”
This learned disconnection leads us into a perpetual state of “not enough.” We feel wrong, bad, unworthy, fundamentally flawed just for existing. As a species, we’ve lost our taproot and have learned that it’s better to ignore the innate naturalness of our being, unless we wish to open ourselves to scrutiny, judgement, and more shame. What we’ve learned and emulated across many generations now, largely due to Puritanical programming, isn’t “natural,” although we’ve come to certainly view it as “normal.”
Living with Feminine Shame is a constant fight between natural and normal and an internalization that there’s something wrong with us. We are disconnected from our InnerSpark and continually seek cues and validation externally. This compartmentalized way of life makes everything harder and wreaks havoc on us physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually and contributes to dis-ease on a massive scale.
Why Does Feminine Shame Exist?
Why Does Feminine Shame Exist:
The root cause of feminine shame is in the programs that have taught us to shun our naturalness and to view it as wrong, bad, sinful. Since so much of our world in its natural state is meant to encompass these qualities (our physical bodies, the cycles of the Earth, the stages of life, growth, and aging, and more), it’s an unfortunate truth that we’ll all experience this feminine shame at some point our lives to varying degrees.
Always striving to fit into a rigid, external measure of “normal,” willing ourselves to continue the quest when what would truly bring us back to wholeness is embracing our natural state and our Spirally essence.
Who Does Feminine Shame Impact?
Who Does Feminine Shame Impact:
Feminine Shame impacts everyone – regardless of gender or physical anatomy. It’s an abstract, permeating concept that mostly refers to shame towards that which is natural and has virtually nothing to do with gender or anatomy.
It is when we believe our very natural existence and presence, especially those aspects that are fluid and natural, are the source of our sense of safety, belonging, contentment, and/or joy being in jeopardy.
While womxn do tend to experience it more directly, as a species, we’ve undoubtedly come to a place where the essence of “feminine,” or the Spiral Principle is not held with high regard. We are all impacted, as is our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and the health of our planet.
How Do We Heal Feminine Shame?
How Do We Heal Feminine Shame:
We heal Feminine Shame intentionally, compassionately, gently, and lovingly. We do so by embracing what’s natural and letting go of what’s been deemed “normal.”
In The InnerSpark Method, a system for supporting deep-feeling, sensitive women in breaking the cycles of burnout, people-pleasing, anxiety, and constantly trying to “fix” themselves, we heal Feminine Shame through five phase approach: befriending the body, managing our energy system (with resources like InnerSpark’s Energy Management Tools) and connecting with our emotions, mastering our mind, and aligning with Nature’s wisdom and rhythms.
We do so by reconnecting with ourselves, our InnerSpark, to see the parts of ourselves riddled with shame. We do so in community where we allow ourselves to be seen and witness each other. We come back to a state of reverent balance and holistic living and thriving.
Shame In The Body: Specifics
Shame is an emotion that is the result of a mental body story, cellular memory, ancestral trauma, energetic imprint, empathically responding to and internalizing the emotions and stories of others, and more.
What does shame feel like in the body? Where do you feel shame in the body? What are the physical symptoms of toxic shame?
The effects of shame on the body are many. I’ll touch on a few today to paint a picture and provide examples so you can begin to understand the origin of your physical challenges.
You have more power over your own health than you’ve been led to believe. You can heal the root rather than pacifying symptoms continually.
Poor posture results when we don’t feel comfortable, supported, safe, and strong in our bodies. The barrier to these states of being, which are your birthright, is shame.
We’re ashamed of our bodies, ashamed of our lack of support, ashamed of our lack of strength. Rather than seeing our bodies as sacred, temporary homes open to our influence, we fall victim to shame and perpetuate it through the way we hold our body. Our bodies have a memory and postural patterns reflect our infernal dialogue. Working on both levels – physical and mental – simultaneously results in rapid change.
Additionally, carrying around a burden of shame doesn’t have to just be the slouched or hunched-over depressive posture. An aggressive or defensive posture may be the tendency depending on the individual and their unique shame story.
Digestive challenges, especially constipation, can be the result of shame. We carry shame in our center and in our place of power, the solar plexus chakra. Feelings of early life powerlessness result in a heightened need to control, which can mean controlling the body and its natural processes, like defecation.
The shame lies in feeling like it was our fault that we were powerless. Then, internalizing the treatment we received or the circumstances we endured, as well as soaking in the collective’s shame of the body and in particular, bowel movements. I’ve seen this especially in womxn.
Sexual dissatisfaction can show up in a variety of ways. From an inability to perform, to an inability to climax, to low libido, to a general dislike of sex, and more.
This is a very loaded and multifaceted topic that could be a series of posts and of itself. For now, I’d like to bring presence to how shame of the body, and a deep cultural programming of how sex is shameful, have resulted in a perverted society devoid of a healthy, innate, innocent sexuality.
For many, sex elicits so much shameful anxiety that it’s no wonder there’s a loss of libido or an inability to climax and more!
Shame of enjoying ourselves, shame of how we’ll be perceived by our partners, or shame of how our bodies look. Shame of looking or sounding weird, shame of being too experienced, shame of being inexperienced. Shame of taking too long, shame of not taking long enough.
Disordered Eating & A Poor Relationship With Food
Relationships with food are very intimately tied in with relationships with our Earth mothers or mother figures. Our desire to be nourished and have our needs met can feel shameful.
We either internalize the shortcomings of our caretakers as a reflection on us, or we simply feel ashamed for having the need to be loved and nurtured. In any case, turning to food feels like a reliable, safe fix since it won’t judge or shame us.
Restrictive eating may come from that early life experience with powerlessness that I mentioned with constipation. It’s a form of control. Binge eating is a way of punishing ourselves and taking out deeply held frustrations, anger, and desperation.
We can also feel ashamed to eat in front of others because we don’t want them to see us enjoy our nourishment, and we don’t want to feel judged. We place a sense of morality on ourselves based on what we eat – “I was so good today! I ate my vegetables.” Or “I was bad today, I ate cake.”
Nourishment is a basic necessity and not something to be ashamed of, yet there is that tricky emotion popping up again. Check out this class on nourishment and digestion.
Endocrine Disorders Like Adrenal Fatigue, Hypothyroidism, & Reproductive Challenges
These challenges are symptoms in my book. Sure, they’re diagnoses, yet, the body doesn’t just randomly decide to malfunction; these are symptoms of underlying, subtle imprints. The subtle is always creating the gross. The subtle goes askew when it’s coated in different nuances of the shame story.
Adrenal Fatigue & Shame
In Adrenal Insufficiency or Adrenal Fatigue as it’s commonly referred to as, there is such deep, deep imprints of shame that drive perfectionism, anxiety, fear, feeling like one’s survival is threatened, isolation, and loneliness. There may also be a sense of defeat and that we have made our bed, this is how it has to be.
Shame is preventing the adrenal fatigue sufferer from receiving new options and possibilities, receiving support, admitting they need help, facing their unique, particular experiences that have resulted in living this way.
Hypothyroidism & Shame
Hypothyroidism is linked to shame around expressing and sharing one’s self. Continually swallowing one’s truth, holding one’s self back from being seen in the world and sharing one’s gifts.
Hypothyroidism energetically and physically is directly linked to anything involving the adrenals and often times, contrary to western medicine’s testing practices, hypothyroidism is a secondary ailment due to taxed adrenals.
Reproductive Challenges & Shame
Reproductive hormones and functions also tie into this little triad energetically and physiologically, as well. This can be linked to shame around the body, shame around being a woman, shame around one’s own childhood, and more. And, the same goes for this – there’s most always an adrenal component when anything regarding the reproduction is challenged.
What’s your experience with shame? Where do you notice it in your body? Please share with me below! I invite you to peruse the following resources to support your path of healing shame:
The InnerSpark Method
Being highly sensitive is only tough when it's misunderstood & mismanaged
And high sensitivity isn't a life sentence of burnout, overwhelm, overthinking, and health challenges.
The true ROOT of challenges for sensitive, deep-feelers is twofold: unacknowledged shame and a weak, inconsistent foundation of resilience-building self-care.
Learn to understand, manage, & embrace the gifts of high sensitivity & transform it into your superpower!
Ready to turn high sensitivity from a source of shame, frustration, and overwhelm and into a source of resilience, confidence, and joy?
Come discover a whole-person, trauma-informed system of self-care that teaches sensitive, deep-feelers how to lead with the gifts of their sensitivity to confidently and joyfully thrive in body, mind, and spirit, by living from their InnerSpark.
Explore Feminine Shame:
The Actual Root of Many Deep-Feeling, Sensitive Women’s Struggles
Feminine Shame exists because of shame we carry around the things about ourselves that are transient and cyclical – like our physical bodies and emotions.
The Truth About High Sensitivity: Debunking Myths & Embracing Your Gift
Are you a highly sensitive person? Confused about what that even means? There are a lot of myths out there about what high sensitivity is and is not, and when we can come to understand, manage, and embrace our sensitivity, it becomes a superpower, rather than the source of shame, exhaustion, overwhelm, health troubles, and […]
I just started listening to the recording on this page, and it started great and felt excited by it. The male voice chimed in and mentioned a “quote” about who do you think you are that you know what others are thinking? I get the sentiment, but for those of us who have suffered from childhood shame, abuse and trauma, this kind of statement feels very shaming. I did not come on here to be shamed even more for a defensive mechanism that I want to learn about and heal from. I would recommend removing this comment from the recording. Im certain Im not the only one who feels this way. I did fast forward this part and listened to the rest to the podcast. It was very helpful and enlightening. I could so identify with the part with the endocrine system… so many A-has! Thank you very much for this information.
Hello Julie, thank you for the comment. My name is Mike and I’m the
male voice heard in the podcast.
I certainly did not mean to shame you for anything and I am truly and
whole-heartedly sorry that my words came across that way; such was not
As a male survivor of sexual abuse I have felt a lot of shame, and I
still do to some degree most days. Through my own journey towards
healing (which is still a work-in-progress) I realized that much of my
shame was rooted in the idea that everybody around me could see what
had been done to me, like it was written on my forehead.
It was a breakthrough for me to realize that the people around me
don’t have any superhuman abilities to read my past or my mind, any
more that I can read theirs. This helped me to stop assuming that
people are judging me everywhere I go.
The irony of a self-deflating shame being rooted in something that
would have required super-human powers was, to me at least, a
fascinating paradox which reminded me of something I had heard about
“Don’t be so humble — you’re not that great.” (looked it up later:
Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel, 1969. See footnote)
In that moment I had the freedom to laugh at myself for how my own
defense mechanisms had created these paradoxes in my mind, the
unraveling of which was very liberating.
I shared this in the podcast in the hopes that somebody out there
might understand and realize that part of their feeling of shame is
also rooted in this idea of assumptions. If that does not resonate
with you, that’s okay. If it doesn’t resonate with most people, that’s
still okay, but if it helps even one person then that’s more than
okay. I never used the words “who do you think you are” and never did
I intend to challenge anyone’s process or where they’re at in their
I am more grateful for your criticism than you can imagine and as a
fellow sufferer of shame and abuse I am rooting for you with
everything I’ve got.
With deepest respect,
Note: you can find the context of that quote from Golda Meir here: