Defectiveness & Shame Schema

Have you ever thought that you do not deserve certain people’s love, or that you are getting away with something you shouldn't be? Or that you want to hide from others because you are ashamed of something about yourself? If you feel unlovable, ashamed of yourself, and unable to bring yourself to meet others, you might have a defectiveness and shame schema. 

 

How Does This Schema Form?

As per most schemas, the formation of this schema starts from young, in childhood. This tends to stem from the care provided by their caregivers. Children depend on parents or caregivers a lot, and their caregivers often have an influence on their sense of self.

Those with this schema tend to be in family situations where they are not welcome or at least made to feel that way. This can cause children to believe that they are unwelcome because something about them is wrong or defective. 

 

How Can It Affect Me?

This can cause issues when you try to form relations, even into adulthood. You might be too afraid to be completely open with someone, often resulting in you creating a facade of who you are to mask the shame that you feel about yourself. You might not allow others, including partners, to get close to you as you are afraid of what they might find out about you.

 

What Are The Signs?

Some signs that are common in people with this schema include:

  • Avoiding connecting deeply with people or being close to them. This is usually accompanied by excuses like the lack of good fortune in meeting the right people. 
  • Criticizing yourself a lot, usually severely.
  • Having difficulty in accepting compliments. 
  • Getting attracted to and staying with people even if they may be abusive, or mistreat you in a relationship.
  • Being overly reactive to situations that make you feel shame.
  • Being extremely sensitive to signs of criticism from others.

 

What Can I Do?

It would be good to understand your history. You could look through your past to see if there are any potential sources of this schema. It might also do you well to try to think about whatever abuse and mistreatment you experienced. Were any of them a fault of yours? If you are unable to find any reasonable faults, it could help you understand that others' behaviour towards you was not due to a defect on your part.

Speaking to a therapist could also be beneficial. Therapists are equipped to provide an objective perspective that family and other loved ones may not be able to give. They can help you view yourself from this perspective as well, away from the influence of any schemas that you may have, including the defectiveness schema. It could help you better understand your thoughts and help you start letting go of this schema. 

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