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Core Shame in Athletes

Core shame is an instinctual judgement about the self, and it results in a sense of worthlessness, a fear of being found out, and a desperate striving for perfection (Cozolino, 2016). We see or feel this worthlessness, fear of being found out and a desperate striving for perfection throughout sport. We want and need to be worthy and feel part of the team or squad. This want and need has its origins in our evolution because our safety depended on our connection and contribution to the group. With core shame, Cozolino argued, people feel damaged, unlovable and abandoned. What do you feel you would do to overcome these feelings of damage, being unlovable and a fear of abandonment? Would you try to please other people? Would you try to put others first all of the time?

There is little doubt that we as human beings work to fit in as much as possible but not always. Some people try to escape these feelings in several ways. Have you ever seen the body posture of a person who has been reprimanded whether right or wrong? This pose of looking downward, hanging one's head and dropping ones shoulders is a common sight in sport and in life. The real trouble for children and adults is that their experiences of submissive inhibition is internalised as "I'm not lovable" or "my place here is under threat". We might navigate our way out of thee experiences as an adult but they are terrifying experiences for a child who often has no means to survive. We are all seeking support. let's see if we can offer some to ourselves and others.


Cozolino, Louis. Why Therapy Works: Using Our Minds to Change Our Brains (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology): (p. 10). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.



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