Shame Is Not Guilt And How To Move Forward

Shame and guilt are not the same, even though they might make us feel very similar. Here are two different sentences with each of the word: 

“I feel guilty after I made that ugly comment towards my friend, I think I might have hurted her feelings,” said Tyler. 

“ I feel ashamed because I cheated on my test,” said Eddie. 

We often mix up these two feelings because they are feelings of consequences, however, they are very different. This is how Joseph Burgo Ph.D. from PyschologyToday defined shame and guilt. Guilt is “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.” and shame is “the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.” 

Dr. Joseph Burgo explained in PsychologyToday that shame is a negative emotion created by ourselves and usually it's because we did something that violated our moral standards. However, not everyone has the capacity to feel guilt. To feel guilt towards something one did, one must be aware of one’s actions and the harm these actions bring to others. Furthermore, some people have very little empathy for others and will have trouble feeling guilt. For example, one must recognize others as individuals with equal rights  in order to see the harm they might have caused  them. 

How to move forward from Shame

We all experience shame but there are times when we feel stuck in the shame of our  past. Bernard Golden, Ph.D, a professional anger management therapist gave a list of helpful things to do to overcome toxic shame in PsychologyToday.feel free to Some suggestions to include in your daily routine: 

  1. Formal mindfulness meditation is a powerful strategy to become less reactive to thoughts or feelings we experience.
  2. Practicing informal mindfulness can strengthen your sensitivity to recognize the inner-hostile voice as an expression of anger and as an effort to avoid shame. Do a daily check-in: Observe your thoughts for one to two minutes, several times a day.
  3. Expand your compassionate self by cultivating a more compassionate inner dialog that can serve as an alternative to a harshly critical voice. This involves the gradual cultivation of a vocabulary that reflects forgiveness and self-acceptance, even when you are not always feeling it. Identify what words of compassion you would have wanted to hear as a child and what you need now. This might include, for example, “I’m sorry for your pain,” “You didn’t deserve what happened to you,” ”You’re only human–we all make mistakes," or, “It’s okay to feel what you feel.”

Book list on shame and how to move forward:

Shame is not guilt and how to move forward

List created by bibliotherapy1

Shame and guilt are not the same, even though they might make us feel very similar

View Full List