Overachievers and “Winners” Feel Shame Too

Shame and Lt. Dan

Shame and Lt. Dan

In my book, Healing the Hurts of the Past; I refer to the movie Forrest Gump and specifically Lt. Dan Taylor. If you remember, he was the good-looking highly confident commander in Viet Nam…until he lost his legs in battle.

Then everything changed.  He came from a family where every generation had a war hero…someone that had died in battle.  Lt. Dan fully expected that he would either live or die a hero as well.

Overachievers and Shame

With this in mind, consider the other side of shame…the side that is revealed in “successful” people. In Healing the Hurts of Your Past I wrote…

Here’s a key to understanding the pain of shame…it has little to do with the bad things that have happened to you or the bad things that you have done. It has everything to do with the lies you believe about yourself. For example, answer this question: When did shame come to Lt. Dan? Some people say, “When he was shot”. Others have said, “When his legs were amputated”.

No. It was way before that. Shame entered Lt. Dan’s life when he believed the lie that he was only valuable as a war hero. Or more simply, when he believed that his value was based on how he performed. That may have happened when he was as young as five years old.

We often think of a shamed person as some poorly functioning, depressed person. But shame is often resident in highly motivated, successful people. As long as they are performing well, they feel great. They are meeting their expectations. Their success covers up the pain of their shame. But send some pain or discouragement or failure their way and they crumble into pieces because, in their mind, only losers fail. And if they have failed, then they must be a loser.

It is as if the lie was hiding in the weeds for years just waiting to pounce on them the minute they failed. It grabs them by the throat and takes them down – totally confusing them as to why they are suddenly so depressed or angry or anxious when their whole life has run so smoothly up until now.

That is what happened to Lt. Dan. His shame drove him to be a “winner”. He kept one step ahead of the grip of shame by making sure that he was always successful. But his shame was finally revealed when he lost his legs.  Healing the Hurts of Your Past

This expands the definition of “shame-based person”, doesn’t it?  Some of our most successful people today are driven by shame. They work every day to prove that they are valuable. Can you think of any examples?

Make this a discussion!  How has shame made you an overachiever? Who are some overachievers in the news who have admitted their own shame? Leave your comment below and “share the knowledge” by clicking the link. Thanks.


3 thoughts on “Overachievers and “Winners” Feel Shame Too

  1. Pingback: Lies of Shame « Cathy's Voice Now

  2. Teresa

    The more comfortable you are in God’s love the less likely you are to strive for things that have an outward title or recognition. I do think God lead’s or calls us into positions based on spiritual gifting. When we strive then we do the work. When God calls then he jions us and it flows.

  3. Pingback: Seven Reasons Every Leader Needs to Understand Shame | F. Remy Diederich

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