Guilt and Shame

Guilt is an emotion a person experiences when they are convinced that they caused harm to another person. While guilt does not feel good, it has many positives to it.  

The Differences between Guilt and Shame

  • Guilt alerts us to some action we did that was wrong.
  • Guilt can motivate us to take some corrective action.
  • Guilt can lead to positive change and deeper relationships.
  • Guilt can be very short-lived and teach us valuable lessons.

Like guilt, shame is an emotion a person experiences when they are convinced that they caused harm to another person. Like guilt, shame does not feel good. However, unlike guilt, it has NO positives to it.

  • Shame drowns us in a feeling that we are wrong, not worthy.
  • Shame often steals our energy and hinders us from taking corrective action.
  • Shame lingers on and often is at the foundation of ongoing mental health and substance abuse problems.
  • Shame teaches us that we are bad and hurts our relationships.

Strategies to Reduce, Move Past, and Let Go of Guilt:

  • Analyze what you are thinking. See what is rational and makes sense… and what is irrational.
  • Apologize well to the person who you feel was hurt by your actions… in a timely manner, with a good heart, with no expectations of getting a certain reaction back from the other.
  • Apologize well to yourself… then let it go.
  • Reflect on and be grateful for what you learned from this experience.
  • Focus on the “present moment.”

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