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EP. 184 Navigating the 3 Levels of Shame

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Join us this week on the Hope Rescue Podcast for the continuation of our series on shame. Discover how to navigate the various levels of shame: incidental, crippling, and acute.

Make sure to check out our previous episodes in this series:

Episode 181: Dealing with Guilt & Shame

Episode 182: 4 Ways We Cope with Shame

Episode 183: Where Did Shame Begin?

Incidental shame, crippling shame and acute shame are different types of shame that can have varying degrees of impact on an individual.

Incidental shame is a natural human emotion that is triggered by unexpected or unintentional circumstances. For example, imagine being in a public restroom and having the door to your stall unexpectedly opened. While you may have done nothing wrong, the sudden feeling of vulnerability and exposure can evoke feelings of shame - despite the fact that there is no wrongdoing on your part.

Crippling shame is a type of shame that is more intense and persistent. It is often associated with feelings of self-loathing and inadequacy and can lead to feelings of isolation and depression. This type of shame can be caused by past traumatic experiences, such as childhood abuse, or by internalized negative beliefs about oneself.

Acute shame is a powerful and intense emotion that can be triggered by a specific event or situation, such as being caught in a public wrongdoing. It can lead to feelings of intense emotional pain, embarrassment, and self-doubt. For instance, if a man is publicly exposed for embezzling funds from his company, the shame and guilt he would feel as a result of this event would be acute. The public exposure and potential legal repercussions could also cause him to spiral into a very unhealthy mental state.

How do we as Christians pursue people who are dealing with shame?

Matthew 18:15-18 says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

From a perspective of shame, this passage suggests addressing conflicts with others in a private, discreet manner, and with the support of others, rather than publicly exposing and shaming them. Such public exposure could lead to intense feelings of shame and potentially spiral into severe negative mental and emotional consequences.

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