Grandiosity vs Shame: What Happens When One Gets Swapped In for the Other?

This past week I read a book titled, “Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity.”

Let’s leave my thoughts on the book entirely to one side.

The thrust of this post is a line that caught my attention:

“Shame feels bad; grandiosity feels good… What’s devilish about flipping from shame into grandiosity is that it works. It makes you feel better in the short run, but it creates havoc in your life in the long run.”

I have been thinking about that all week.


Speaking for myself, I recognized times—when confronted—that I blustered and blew because it was easier than digging around and recognizing I was behaving poorly.

Expanding that outward to those I know who tend to self-aggrandize, I found myself thinking about them far more compassionately.


Because shame is a corrosive emotion.

And if that’s what they are struggling with, then it’s easy to find compassion in my heart for their grandiosity, even when it lands for me as performative blah-blah.

I send these thoughts along because I’d love for you to have a think on them and let me know if you come to the same conclusions.


For more thoughts on the workings of shame, look at “Don’t Weaponize My Shame” and “Can You Pull Out of a Shame Spiral?”