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The Difference Between Shame and Guilt: Understanding and Managing Your Emotions

Updated: Feb 9

Shame is so painful, but exploring shame appropriately can lead to a reduction in many of its distressing and disabling symptoms such as: fear, pain, blame, lies, negative thoughts, feelings of worthlessness, viewing self as bad.  When shame is managed properly through first establishing safety - safety in relationship, and sense of self. Speaking from the heart empathetically, reconnecting and repairing, enables the individual to understand that your relationship with them is not lost, i.e.:
'It's not you, it's the behaviour; it's not our relationship, it is me simply teaching you appropriate behaviour'.

It is important for the individual to know that they are more than their behaviour, that they are valued as a person. To hear and receive clearly the message:
"You are MORE than your behaviour, you are VALUED as YOU, as a PERSON".

By so doing, the painful experience of shame can be decreased, which enables the individual to develop empathy. With empathy comes guilt. When shame is managed properly the individual learns that guilt is about behaviour i.e. 'I did something wrong in my behaviour that caused someone distress or pain'. Thus, guilt leads the individual to learn from their mistakes, guilt motivates the individual to be sorry, to repair, and to accept or take self-responsibility. It motivates the individual to make positive changes in their behaviour.  Through this process, the individual learns: his or her 'self' is not worthless, and his or her relationship is not in jeopardised nor lost, which gives the individual freedom to learn from his or her mistakes. Thus, shame can be an opportunity to learn, and not feared. 


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