2.1 Shame

This page was last modified: January 14th, 2023


Video Transcript Shame. So the sense of subconscious inadequacy that we learned in the last section is the entire core of this fetish. Everything around this fetish. Everything about this fetish story revolves around this subconscious sense of inadequacy. What’s this got to do with shame? Well, a lot of people refer to this sense of subconscious inadequacy as toxic shame. Meaning, this sense of inadequacy is basically a sense of shame about ourselves, a sense of shame, not for any specific reason, but just about being a sense that we are shameful that basically is subconscious inadequacy. It’s toxic shame, not shame for any specific reason. Because we should feel shame in normal situations. Shame as a healthy human emotion is something that we feel whenever we make a mistake, we might feel shame. Whenever we do something bad, we might feel shame whenever we mess up, we might feel shame. Or whenever we do something that we actually don’t want to do something that’s contradictory to our values, we might feel shame. So shame is a very useful, healthy human emotion. But what can happen is this sense of shame can get stuffed down into the subconscious and become a state of being about ourselves. A sense of shame, not for any specific reason, but just the sense that we are shameful, a subconscious sense of inadequacy. That’s why I’m talking about this shame, because subconscious inadequacy is toxic Shame, shame that has been stuffed down into the subconscious. So here’s an example of this. This is what we learned in the last section that the feeling of inadequacy leads to the cockling fetish. That’s the summary of a lot of things that we learned in the last section. So what happens when you get off to this fetish? What happens when you indulge in this fetish? Do you feel great? Or do you feel shame? And do you get this sense of that you are inadequate, because really, that’s what happens. Indulging in this fetish leads to feeling more inadequate. And what does inadequacy lead to? It leads to this fetish. So we have this kind of loop here. We feel inadequate that leads to this fetish. And then this fetish leads to feeling more inadequate. And it’s just this self reinforcing spiral. And perhaps feeling is the wrong word. Because it’s not really conscious. It’s not really an emotion. It’s just the sense, it’s just a general sense. So we have this kind of shame spiral. This is what this is known as a shame spiral, where it just gets worse and worse and gets, it just just doesn’t get any better, until this is interrupted somehow. So I really want to talk more about conscious and subconscious shame, because conscious shame. And this is very, very important to note. Conscious shame is a normal, healthy, human emotion. In fact, conscious shame is necessary in being human. Because it tells us of our limits. If we make a mistake, if we do something wrong, shame is there to remind us that we have limits to stop us from getting carried away. And making even more mistakes or getting overconfident shame actually protects us by telling us our limits. Conscious shame is the permission to be human. And to be human is to be essentially limited is to be you know, we’re all needy and prone to mistakes, and we are essentially finite. That’s just a part of being human, we are limited. And shame keeps us from getting into danger by trying to act more than human trying to transcend the limits of humanity, trying to do more than we actually can. Conscious shame is the psychological foundation of humility. And Humility is a very beneficial traits in life. So conscious shame is actually very beneficial. That’s why we evolved to have it, okay. Keeps us grounded. It’s basically a yellow light warning us that we are essentially limited. It’s the emotional energy that signals that we are not God, that we have made mistakes, and we will make mistakes, and that we need help. It allows us to know our limits and thus to use our energy more effectively because we have better direction. When we know our limits. We don’t waste ourselves on goals we cannot reach or on things that we cannot change. There’s an old joke about the man who got on his horse and rode off in all directions. And that’s what happens when you don’t have shame. When you don’t have healthy shame. You try and do everything. You’re trying to ride off in all directions with no limits. And you’re basically just not grounded and don’t have Have this healthy sense of humanity. But subconscious shame is toxic. Subconscious shame is the sense that we are flawed as a human being that we are fundamentally inadequate. It is no longer an emotion that signals our limits. It is a state of being a core identity, subconscious shame gives you a sense of worthlessness a sense of failing and falling short as a human being. So that’s the very important distinction to make. Most people with this subconscious shame with this sense of inadequacy, they might actually lack this healthy conscious shame. Because we try and avoid this, if we have a sense that we are shameful, we might try and block out this conscious shame and try and deny this conscious shame. And that’s a very, very bad thing because we need shame. It’s a very healthy thing. So it’s subconscious shame. Unconscious shame is the difference between saying I made a mistake, versus I am a mistake. Because to make a mistake is a very normal, healthy human thing. But then to be a mistake, that’s a subconscious sense of toxic shame, a sense that you are inadequate. And that’s what we want to avoid. So to take back control, you can try and be a little bit better with making mistakes. Try and Own your mistakes and understand that you are only human and that you do mistakes. In fact, just saying I made a mistake takes back control and it stops it from becoming I am a mistake. And that’s what we’re going to look at right now in this next section called internalization. Which is how will this sense of shame gets stuffed down into the subconscious and becomes a state of inadequacy.

Make sure you understand the difference between healthy conscious shame and toxic subconscious shame. It’s very important. It involves how you deal with mistakes and imperfections.

Toxic Shame = Inadequacy. They’re synonymous. It’s just a bit easier to understand if we phrase it as “toxic shame” instead of “subconscious inadequacy”.

Toxic shame is shame about ourselves, not for any specific reason.

When we have toxic shame, we usually lack healthy shame. And a healthy sense of shame is so important in life. We’ll either feel shame about everything or nothing, either thinking we’re sub-human or more than human.

An ironic part of this video is at the end when I talk about making mistakes, and I make a mistake myself. I missed out the word “make”. With toxic shame, we try to hide our mistakes. Previously in my life i’m sure I would never be comfortable uploading this video, because everyone would see how horribly imperfect I am. I’d have to do it all over again until it was perfect. Healthy shame is recognising that we do MAKE mistakes, and that we are only human.


Some people refer to this deep-rooted inadequacy as “toxic shame”. That is, shame for no reason, about nothing in particular, simply for being. Toxic shame is a subconscious sense that you are flawed or somehow defective.

Toxic shame = inadequacy.

When we phrase it as “toxic shame”, a whole new world opens up where we can compare it to normal shame. Because really, toxic shame is just normal shame that has stopped functioning in a healthy way and has started to apply to ourselves. It is shame which has been internalized and has become a state of being. And when this happens we lose our healthy sense of shame.

This usually happens in one of two ways: The first is where every bit of shame becomes automatically magnified and internalized. We accept our low status and find ways to cope with it, feeling worthless or subhuman and simply giving up, surrendering to the sense of inadequacy.

The second is where we suppress the normal, conscious shame, and feel like we can transcend the limits of humanity and be better than everyone else. And that’s very, very bad.

Conscious shame is a normal, healthy, human emotion. In fact, conscious shame is necessary in being a well-functioning human. We evolved to have it for a reason; it has a purpose.

We feel shame when we make a mistake or act in a way that contradicts our values; we feel shame when we do something wrong. Shame is there to help us to not make the same mistake twice. It’s an unpleasant feeling, and that acts as the deterrent to stop doing the same wrong thing again and again. It makes us feel bad, and so it should, because that’s what helps us to grow into better people. We want to avoid that bad feeling. That’s the drive that makes us want to stop making mistakes. Without shame, we would keep making mistakes forever with no drive to stop.

For example, if you’re carelessly playing around with a glass, and you drop it and it smashes, you might feel a tiny bit of shame. That’s a normal healthy thing to feel; that’s going to make you want to be more careful next time.

If we start getting overconfident and carried away, when we make a mistake shame is there to remind us that we have limits. And we do have limits – we all make mistakes. We are not God. We are only human, and to be human is to be limited. It is to be finite, needy, and prone to mistakes. We are not perfect, that is a guaranteed part of being human. Shame keeps us from making mistakes by trying to act more than human, as if we don’t make mistakes, as if we’re unlimited.

What If You Really Are Better Than Everyone Else?

Many people with this fetish have some very good qualities. You may be very intelligent, talented, creative, muscular, rich, successful, unique, funny, or nice. You may have exceptional abilities. You may be able to do things that no-one else can do. It is easy to get carried away with this. But you’re still human. You still make mistakes.

And actually, that feeling of toxic shame is what can drive you to get all of these good things. By going to the gym, earning more money, studying harder, being nicer, or being funnier etc, you can have a sense of control over that subconscious perception. It feels good. So frequently people become obsessed with that good feeling and chase that, getting quite far as a result, driven by that feeling of not being good enough just as you are.

It’s driven by toxic shame. And the resulting lack of healthy shame leads to you having no clear limits. You have no boundaries, you fantasise about affecting things that just aren’t your area. Perhaps you want to become president despite having no political experience, or become a writer without ever having written anything before, or make a new scientific discovery out of your sheer unrecognised genius. A lack of shame leads to a lack of limits. You end up with no clear direction, wasting energy on things you cannot change. You fantasise about everyone realising you’re secretly a musical genius when you drop the hottest new song of the year.

There’s a movement on the internet called “NoFap”. It’s a huge group of men who abstain from masturbation for as long as possible. They claim a number of benefits to this – increased energy, increase in mental clarity, confidence, etc. When this is used for young single men to give them drive to get a girlfriend, it’s surely a positive thing. But, for those who consider sexual activity to be an imperfection, a waste of time, or a pointlessly hedonistic activity, it’s not a good thing, it’s a sign of a lack of healthy shame. They deny the fundamentally sexual nature of humanity – they deny their limits and try to transcend them, somehow perpetually wondering why they keep failing.

To have a sex drive is a normal, healthy, human trait. If you don’t value pleasure and would rather only ejaculate for reproductive purposes, it doesn’t matter. You are limited. To deny that limitation is to lack healthy shame. You will always be driven by your penis to have sex with women and masturbate, it’s a basic human need. And that’s ok; even if you think it’s less than ideal to act that way, humans are less than ideal. And your sex drive is one of the most basic human drives along with hunger and thirst. If you attempt to transcend that, just like carelessly throwing around glasses, at some point you’ll fail. We feel shame to remind us of our limits.

Without shame, we have no limits. This could lead to delusions of grandeur – thinking we can do anything. If we don’t know our limits, we have no direction. We’ll try to go everywhere at once, resulting in no net movement. We might try to be the jack-of-all-trades, and end up as the master of none. Shame is what tells us our limits, and signals our direction. Then we can use our energy more effectively, and not waste ourselves on goals we cannot reach or on things we cannot change.

More importantly, having normal healthy shame lets us know that although we’re limited, we’re still human. It’s ok to be imperfect. Conscious shame is the psychological foundation of humility. Humility is a very beneficial trait in life, so conscious shame is beneficial. Conscious shame keeps us grounded. It is a yellow light warning us that we are essentially limited. It is the emotional energy which signals us that we are all imperfect and we make mistakes, and it stops us from getting carried away into potentially damaging situations.

But when this shame becomes internalized, when it stops functioning as a normal, healthy, human emotion, it becomes a toxic sense of inadequacy. Subconscious shame is the sense that we are flawed as a human being, that we are inadequate. It is no longer an emotion that signals our limits and that we make mistakes, but rather that we are the mistake. It becomes a state of being, a core identity. Subconscious shame gives you a sense of worthlessness, a sense of failing and falling short as a human being.

Conscious shame tells us we make mistakes. We are imperfect, just like everyone else.

Toxic shame tells us we are a mistake. We are flawed, defective, simply not good enough. We are imperfect, but should be perfect.

And, as before, when this toxic shame exists in the subconscious, it is the cause of this fetish. We eroticize those painful feelings to help us deal with them.

A lot of this centers around how you deal with mistakes.

Out of all the people I’ve met, the ones who were the most confident and comfortable with themselves deal with their mistakes in the same way. They recognize their mistake, without any suggestion that it’s due to a deficiency in them; rather, they recognize that everyone makes mistakes. They don’t block it out, hide it, or deny it. They may even draw attention to it, laughing at their own essentially imperfect nature, and then moving on.

However, the people i’ve met with a sense of toxic shame do not acknowledge their mistakes. They try to cover it up, deny it, or blame others. Perhaps in some situations they might try to make it seem like their mistake was actually on purpose, inventing an elaborate rationale to justify it.

In my student days, I shared a house with 4 other people. One day, when opening the fridge door in a particularly hurried manner, the handle came off in my hand! The right thing to do would be to admit my mistake, and work out how to fix the handle or get a replacement. But I didn’t have appropriate, healthy shame. So instead, I jammed the handle back in where it was, knowing that the next person to open the fridge would then rip it off and I would be free from any wrongdoing, without having to face blame, criticism, or the feeling of shame. Not that my housemates would have been likely to do that for such an innocent mistake, (and if they did, they’d be wrong to do so,) but my subconscious perceived that as a possibility.

Toxic shame leads to an avoidance of shaming situations. We will do everything to prevent mistakes.

What If You Really Are Worthless?

Some people say this to me: “It’s all very well telling me I feel like i’m worthless, but you don’t understand, I really AM worthless! I’m a piece of crap! I’m an awful person! It’s more than a feeling – it’s true!”

This amuses me. Firstly, it is probably true. People rarely have a wildly inaccurate perception of themselves, at least not to this extent. So maybe you are a piece of crap. Maybe it’s been that way for a while. This is how it can play out in those cases:

Subconscious inadequacy forms in early childhood, so you probably started your first day of school with a deep-rooted sense that you weren’t good enough. Perhaps that made you a little less confident, or you didn’t try very hard to make friends. You took a more quiet role in the background.

That, of course, would make you feel more inadequate, because in a very small way, you are more inadequate. You now aren’t the popular one, the others aren’t treating you like the leader, and perhaps that makes you think that that’s your place in life.

This perception of your place in life plays a role in everything, from the way you talk, to the way you carry yourself, to the way you present your appearance.

As I started puberty, I know that I never made an effort at my appearance – out of a sense of not feeling like there was much point. I didn’t feel good enough. I wasn’t popular enough to have any pressure to keep up my appearance. No-one would shame me for being scruffy, because I wasn’t in a position where I should be anything else. That, of course, just reinforced the sense of inadequacy. When you stop making an effort with your appearance, people treat you like you’re less than you deserve. And you start to treat yourself that way too. That leads to lower confidence perhaps, or lower self-esteem, or lower self-respect, and lower respect from others too, which only makes you feel more inadequate. Your actions make you become more inadequate.

Then, as you carried this sense of inadequacy into adolescence, the time came for you to start dating. Which, you inevitably failed to be successful at, because that requires self-confidence and high self-esteem, and as the non-popular kid who doesn’t make an effort with his appearance and who feels like he’s not good enough, you lacked that, so you didn’t do very well. And this failure, of course, made you feel that girls didn’t like you, or that you simply lacked what it takes to be the player/stud/playboy. And because of that feeling, you never tried. You never believed it was possible. So you gave up. You felt even more inadequate, and now that you’re not developing the skills in dating, relationships, and women, you are once again slipping into an even greater state of inadequacy. And it’s because of that feeling of inadequacy.

So, then came the time to get some useful qualifications and enter the world of work. Perhaps the same thing happens again. You don’t fulfil your potential. You don’t get the grades you want, or you don’t pursue the career you want, or you don’t even study the subjects you want, because you don’t feel good enough. So you don’t do as well as you could. You become more inadequate, because you feel inadequate.

This endless line of one mistake after another obviously leads to an incredibly bad life. Perhaps you develop coping mechanisms that i’ll elaborate on later – overeating, alcohol abuse, or other addictions. These are bad things – you literally become more inadequate, to cope with this sense of inadequacy! And being an alcoholic does not make you feel good about yourself. It makes you feel even more inadequate.

Then what do you? With this newly-strengthened sense of inadequacy, you find cuckold porn to eroticize these painful feelings and masturbate to your heart’s content. Do you feel good about this? No, you feel toxic shame, once more. You feel like it’s you, like that’s your place in life. You feel EVEN MORE inadequate. Then things get progressively more humiliating and darker and it doesn’t end well – you become more inadequate.

And after all that, are you going to be a friendly, happy, well-adjusted member of society? Of course not. So on top of that, you just won’t be a very nice person to be around. You won’t make people feel good. People really won’t want to be friends with you. And so you don’t have friends, you’re not happy, you’re not even a good person. You’d be an idiot to feel even slightly adequate after that, because you’re simply not.

So, yes, you really might be a piece of crap. Your life has been an utter failure. And it’s because all along, you’ve had this same feeling of not being good enough, from the first issues in childhood, through adolescence, school, work and now. It’s spiralled downhill to the point where the issue is not that you feel bad, but that you literally are bad. Your life is literally inadequate.

And that’s why people say “you don’t understand, I really AM worthless! I’m a piece of crap! I’m an awful person! It’s not a feeling – it’s true!”.

From the first days of school, a simple lack of confidence created a downward spiral of acting sub-optimally out of a sense of inadequacy, which in turn made you more inadequate, which made you feel more inadequate, which made you act sub-optimally, which made you more inadequate, which made you feel more inadequate, which made you act sub-optimally, which made you more inadequate etc.

Your sense of inadequacy repeatedly led to BEING more inadequate. Every step in this process led to your life getting progressively worse.

A sense of inadequacy creates real inadequacy.

Feeling like you ARE the mistake eventually becomes more and more true.

The only way to heal this is to realise that it all initially stems from that subconscious feeling. You life is bad because you feel like you’re bad. You’re a piece of crap because your sense of inadequacy has made you that way. It all stems from that feeling.

Break this downward slope by intentionally feeling healthy, conscious shame. Feel shame about your life up to this point. Feel shame about the opportunities you’ve missed and the mistakes you’ve made. Mourn your deficiencies. Allow yourself to feel sad for the life you’ve missed out on.

But most importantly, keep it directed away from the feeling that it’s your true nature. Understand this downward spiral.

(Side note: if your life is an utter mess, don’t expect it to get fixed easily, and don’t expect it to be all ok tomorrow. Change takes time. But there’s nothing in you stopping you from doing it. Take it one step at a time. If you’re seriously depressed, the first step is to see a doctor.)


That above explanation is not enough for people to accept that they really aren’t fundamentally flawed. Usually, they’ll then hit me with an unchangeable, lifelong, permanent thing as justification for their inadequacy:

“I have a small penis”

“I am too short”

“My nose is too big”

“I am going bald”

“My eyebrows aren’t symmetrical”

“My hands are tiny”

“My penis isn’t perfectly straight”

“I have bad teeth”

“My skin has blemishes/moles/freckles”

“I have ugly scars on my body”

“My hips are too wide”

“I have a lazy eye”

“My neck is too long”

“I have a weak jawline, girls will always choose a guy with a strong jawline over me, I just am inadequate and always will be” (direct quote)

These are insecurities. I compiled this list by reading this on online forums. Each item on this list is a genuine insecurity that is preventing someone out there from feeling good enough (yes, even Mr. Tiny Hands).

Insecurities can be pretty brutal sometimes. Their clearly factual nature combined with their unchangeability offers no hope. Not only are they true, but there’s nothing you can do. Insecurities seem to offer the clearest and most undebatable evidence of inadequacy.

Read that list again and pause at every item. Try to imagine how they feel. These people think that no-one will ever love them because of this. Some may even give up completely. Imagine that feeling, over those insecurities.

Hopefully you’ll see that these are ridiculous, and an irrational way to prevent yourself from being happy, no-matter how true they are.

This still comes from toxic shame, and the resulting lack of healthy shame. Remember, healthy shame involves accepting that you’re not perfect, and that no-one is. Toxic shame is accepting that you’re not perfect, but you should be. Toxic shame is the feeling that you’re flawed. Healthy shame is the feeling that everyone is flawed. Insecurities come from toxic shame.


Author(s) || Connor McGonigal

Website || howtostopbeingacuckold.com

Article || 2.1 Shame

Date || Between January 27th and November 14th, 2018


tags: [“evergreen”]

contributors: ["Connor McGonigal"]

Comments Section