The experience of shame—a feeling of being unworthy, bad, or wrong—can be extremely uncomfortable. Inspirational shame quotes will challenge the way you think, and help guide you through any life experience.
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Famous Shame Quotes
Shame is an ornament of the young; a disgrace of the old. ― Aristotle
Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle. ― Charles Dickens
Shame is that warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed, and never good enough. ― Brené Brown
Fool me once, shame on you.
Honor and shame from no condition rise; Act well your part, there all the honor lies. ― Alexander Pope
We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinion, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins. ― George Bernard Shaw
Shame is the emotion which gives us permission to be human. Shame tells us of our limits. Shame keeps us in our human boundaries, letting us know we can and will make mistakes, and that we need help. ― John Bradshaw
The difference between guilt and shame is very clear–in theory. We feel guilty for what we do. We feel shame for what we are. ― Lewis B. Smedes
Tell the truth and shame the devil. ― Francois Rabelais
Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn. ― Benjamin Franklin
The shame that arises from praise which we do not deserve often makes us do things we should otherwise never have attempted. ― François de La Rochefoucauld
We need never be ashamed of our tears. ― Charles Dickens
Who would envy a man who could not feel shame? Who would associate with a man who glories in his shame? In either case he evinces a heart depraved, a mind demoralized. ― Joseph Bartlett
It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me. ― Stephen Fry
Shame is closely related to guilt, but there is a key qualitative difference. No audience is needed for feelings of guilt, no one else need know, for the guilty person is his own judge. Not so for shame. The humiliation of shame requires disapproval or ridicule by others. If no one ever learns of a misdeed there will be no shame, but there still might be guilt. Of course, there may be both. The distinction between shame and guilt is very important, since these two emotions may tear a person in opposite directions. The wish to relieve guilt may motivate a confession, but the wish to avoid the humiliation of shame may prevent it. ― Aul Ekman
Where there is no shame, there is no honor. ― Martin Opitz
We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare. ― Brené Brown
Shame isn’t a quiet grey cloud, shame is a drowning man who claws his way on top of you, scratching and tearing your skin, pushing you under the surface. ― Kirsty Eager
Shame is always easier to handle if you have someone to share it with. ― Craig Thompson
If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive. ― Brené Brown
Shame is an unhappy emotion invented by pietists in order to exploit the human race. ― Blake Edward
There is no shame in beginning again, for you get a chance to build bigger and better than before. ― Leon Brown
Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly. ― Isaac Asimov
Live in thy shame, but die not shame with thee! ― William Shakespeare
Shame was an emotion he had abandoned years earlier. Addicts know no shame. You disgrace yourself so many times you become immune to it. ― John Grisham
When you come out of the grips of a depression there is an incredible relief, but not one you feel allowed to celebrate. Instead, the feeling of victory is replaced with anxiety that it will happen again, and with shame and vulnerability when you see how your illness affected your family, your work, everything left untouched while you struggled to survive. We come back to life thinner, paler, weaker … but as survivors. Survivors who don’t get pats on the back from coworkers who congratulate them on making it. Survivors who wake to more work than before because their friends and family are exhausted from helping them fight a battle they may not even understand. I hope to one day see a sea of people all wearing silver ribbons as a sign that they understand the secret battle, and as a celebration of the victories made each day as we individually pull ourselves up out of our foxholes to see our scars heal, and to remember what the sun looks like. ― Jenny Lawson
Even when we do wrong, accountability is helpful, compassion is helpful, apology and forgiveness are helpful, but shame is not. ― Debra Campbell
You can’t give up shame without giving up pride. ― Anonymous
Short Shame Quotes
Shame is a soul eating emotion. ― Carl Gustav Jung
O shame! Where is thy blush? ― William Shakespeare
Shame should be reserved for the things we choose to do, not the circumstances that life puts on us. ― Ann Patchett
Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change. ― Brene Brown
Shame is probably the hardest emotion to sit with, to express. People go out of their way – people drink themselves to death, people will murder – not to feel shame. It’s that much of a kicker. ― Rick Goodwin
Shame occurs when you haven’t been able to get away with the who you want people to think you are. ― Carl Whitaker
If a woman sleeps alone it puts a shame on all men. God has a very big heart, but there is one sin He will not forgive. If a woman calls a man to her bed and he will not go. ― Nikos Kazantzakis
Shame is a particularly acute risk for mental illness. ― Nicola Gates
There’s no shame in admitting what you don’t know. The only shame is pretending you know all the answers. ― Neil deGrasse Tyson
Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame. ― Brené Brown
A shamefaced man makes a bad beggar. ― Homer
If you are proud for bad reasons, shame waits around the corner. ― Bangambiki Habyarimana
In my view, suicide is not really a wish for life to end.’ What is it then?’ It is the only way a powerless person can find to make everybody else look away from his shame. The wish is not to die, but to hide. ― Orson Scott Card
Shame without repentance doesn’t lose power when it is spoken, it only seeks approval. ― Shannon L. Alder
Soap won’t wash away your shame. ― Depeche Mode
Shame and guilt are noble emotions essential in the maintenance of civilized society, and vital for the development of some of the most refined and elegant qualities of human potential. ― Willard Gaylen
Shame derives its power from being unspeakable. ― Brene Brown
The mistake ninety-nine percent of humanity made, as far as Fats could see, was being ashamed of what they were; lying about it, trying to be somebody else. ― J.K. Rowling
Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides: Who cover faults, at last shame them derides. ― William Shakespeare
Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. ― Charles Dickens
Most of my life was spent marinating in shame. It felt like part of my genetic makeup. Shame held my head underwater and told me to resign to my fate, to stop fighting. Shame left me feeling my very personhood was flawed. ― Tara Hedman
Shame is like everything else; live with it for long enough and it becomes part of the furniture. ― Salman Rushdie
Nothing more unqualified the man to act with prudence than a misfortune that is attended with shame and guilt. ― Jonathan Swift
It is better to be buried than to live in shame. ― Panthea
It is the false shame of fools to try to conceal wounds that have not healed. ― Horace
I want to drag knives over my skin, just to feel something other than shame, but I’m not even brave enough for that. ― Paula Hawkins
When guilty shame wears a mask of curiosity, men are turned inside out, becoming strangers to themselves. ― Kobo Abe
There’s something liberating about not pretending. Dare to embarrass yourself. Risk. ― Drew Barrymore
I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed. ― Jonathan Swift
Once they know they’ve got a hold of your shame, they can shake it out and hold it up for the all world to see. And you become less than it. You become something disgusting. ― Kirsty Eager
Unlike guilt, which is the feeling of doing something wrong shame is the feeling of being something wrong. ― Marilyn J. Sorensen
I am ashamed of anyone who has eyes and still can’t see. ― Kathryn Lasky
You cannot let your parents anywhere near your real humiliations. ― Alice Munro
Shame is an unhappy emotion invented by pietists in order to exploit the human race. ― Blake Edwards
Shame is the lie someone told you about yourself. ― Anais Nin
Shame is not your friend. It depletes your power. Let go of shame and embrace your magnificence. ― Judith Orloff
Deep Shame Quotes
Your shame hides in many places-in anger, blame, denial, workaholism, perfectionism, drinking, and anything else you compulsively engage in to make yourself feel better. But if you could just learn to be vulnerable for one second, and open up to the pain, you would find there’s no place left for your shame to hide. ― Adam Appleson
So often survivors have had their experiences denied, trivialized, or distorted. Writing is an important avenue for healing because it gives you the opportunity to define your own reality. You can say: This did happen to me. It was that bad. It was the fault & responsibility of the adult. I was and am innocent. ― Ellen Bass
One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication. ― Carrie Fisher
Abuse manipulates and twists a child’s natural sense of trust and love. Her innocent feelings are belittled or mocked and she learns to ignore her feelings. She can’t afford to feel the full range of feelings in her body while she’s being abused—pain, outrage, hate, vengeance, confusion, arousal. So she short-circuits them and goes numb. For many children, any expression of feelings, even a single tear, is cause for more severe abuse. Again, the only recourse is to shut down. Feelings go underground. ― Laura Davis
Shame regulates differences, creates secrets, builds up a charge. The counterforce and antithesis of shame is desire, which with all its being seeks to eliminate differences, to do away with secrets, release tensions. ― Karl Ove Knausgaard
[She] had heard it said that there was only one emotion which, in recollection, was capable of resurrecting the full immediacy and power of the original—one emotion that time could never fade, and that would drag you back any number of years into the pure, undiluted feeling, as if you were living it anew. It wasn’t love… and it wasn’t hate, or anger, or happiness, or even grief. Memories of those were but echoes of the true feeling. It was shame. Shame never faded. ― Laini Taylor
Only man can blush. No other creature knows of shame. Why have we wandered so far away from simple honesty? ― Edwin Leibfreed
Nothing is truly infamous, but what is wicked; and therefore, shame can never disturb an innocent and virtuous mind. ― William Sherlock
It is not lies or a lack of loyalty that ends a relationship. It is the agonizing truth that one person feels in their heart on a daily basis. It is realizing that you are coping and not living. It is the false belief that there is a verse, quote, phrase or talk that will magically make you feel content, complete or not care. However, it doesn’t last longer than a few days, before your mind and heart goes back to what it wants. It is the moment you realize that you left without ever leaving. It is the moment you realize that fear, shame or guilt is the only thing standing in the way of the life God meant for you to live. ― Shannon L. Alder
Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think. ― Michel Eyquem De Montaigne
Shame may restrain what law does not prohibit. ― Seneca
If people try to judge you or shame you for doing safe, consensual things that make you happy, I can guarantee you they’re bad people. ― Tucker Max
Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough. ― Brene Brown
Does a rake deserve to possess anything of worth, since he chases everything in skirts and then imagines he can successfully hide his shame by slandering [women in general]? ― Christine de Pizan
The basis of shame is not some personal mistake of ours, but the ignominy, the humiliation we feel that we must be what we are without any choice in the matter, and that this humiliation is seen by everyone. ― Milan Kundera
Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story?” If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky. ― Brené Brown
You can find shame in every house, burning in an ashtray, hanging framed upon a wall, covering a bed. But nobody notices it anymore. ― Salman Rushdie
Never feel shame for trying and failing for he who has never failed is he who has never tried. ― Og Mandino
We do not have to be ashamed of what we are. As sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds. These backgrounds may not be particularly enlightened or peaceful or intelligent. Nevertheless, we have soil good enough to cultivate; we can plant anything in it. ― Chögyam Trungpa
Worthlessness, depravity, torment and fear. The definition is up to you. No matter where you stand, shame breeds nothing but negativity, which can cause you problems throughout your journey. ― Corine Gatti
Whoever despiseth shame, despiseth sin. ― Benjamin Whichcote
The most paradoxical aspect of neurotic shame is that it is the core motivator of the super achieved and the underachieved, the star and the scapegoat, the righteous and the wretched, the powerful and the pathetic. ― John Bradshaw
The only shame is to have none. ― Blaise Pascal
I do not say that children at war do not die like men, if they have to die. To their everlasting honor and our everlasting shame, they do die like men, thus making possible the manly jubilation of patriotic holidays. But they are murdered children all the same. ― Kurt Vonnegut
Whilst shame keeps its watch, virtue is not wholly extinguished in the heart; nor will moderation be utterly exiled from the minds of tyrants. ― Edmund Burke
Shame is nothing more than the denial of truth. ― M Funkhouser
“Oh! that look of love!” continued he, between his teeth, as he bolted himself into his own private room. “And that cursed lie; which showed some terrible shame in the background, to be kept from the light in which I thought she lived perpetually! Oh, Margaret, Margaret! Mother, how you have tortured me! Oh! Margaret, could you not have loved me? I am but uncouth and hard, but I would never have led you into any falsehood for me.” ― Elizabeth Gaskell
While shame is something a person imposes upon themselves, shaming is a thing that society imposes on people and on women in far greater numbers than men. ― Gabrielle Zevin
Don’t you think the things people are most ashamed of are things they can’t help? ― C. S. Lewis
Never shame to hear what you have nobly done. ― William Shakespeare
He who hath shame seldom sins. ― Talmud
It is a shame that when we have a good dream, we are asleep at the time. ― P.K. Shaw
Everybody gets scared sometimes, May Belle. You don’t have to be ashamed. ― Katherine Paterson
You cannot really shame a man who sincerely does not care what others think of him. ― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
We cannot grow when we are in shame, and we can’t use shame to change ourselves or others. ― Brené Brown
Time was when most people didn’t want to admit feelings shame, but even that terribly crippling feeling is more out in the open now than it used to be. Admitting shame is admitting a flaw or a defect in oneself, as if there is something wrong with the person’s being. Talking about feeling shame or guilt can make a person feel exposed and vulnerable; it can also lead to grace. ― Jeanie Miley
Though honor might possess certain advantages, yet shame had others, and not inferior. ― Thomas Mann
Shame is a part of original sin. ― John Humphrey Noyes
If you can do nothing else, do whatever is in your power to make the people in your life feel completely unashamed of who they are. ― Sam Killermann
There’s shames a man can never reason away, though he looks back and piles up reasons over them forty dozen deep. And maybe those are the shames a man never should reason away. ― Ken Kesey
I don’t think shame is a bad thing. I think it actually moves you and pushes you to think differently about things. ― Bryan Stevenson
Shame is the most powerful master emotion. It’s the fear that we aren’t good enough. ― Debra Campbell
It is safest to be moderately base–to be flexible in shame, and to be always ready for what is generous, good and just, when anything is to be gained by virtue. ― Sydney Smith
Where there is shame there is virtue. ― Johann von Rist
Overcoming Shame Quotes
- All conditioned things are impermanent’ — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.
- Guilt is the total of All the negative feelings we have had about ourselves, any form of self-hatred, self-rejection, feelings of worthlessness, sinfulness, inferiority, incompetence, failure or emptiness. The feeling that there are things in us that are lacking or missing or incomplete.
- A man does not have to be an angel in order to be a saint.
- Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.
- A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.
- Guilt is always hungry, don’t let it consume you.
- Do you have patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?
- Guilt isn’t always a rational thing… Guilt is a weight that will crush you whether you deserve it or not.
- Do you want to meet the love of your life? Look in the mirror.
- Denial, panic, threats, anger – those are very human responses to feeling guilt.
- Empathy’s the antidote to shame. The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.
- Guilt is to the spirit what pain is to the body.
- Guilt is cancer. Guilt will confine you, torture you, destroy you as an artist. It’s a black wall. It’s a thief.