Guilt and Shame

Guilt is when we feel we have done something bad.

Shame is when we feel we are bad.

Every once a while, guilt can be useful as it pushes us to take action and right things we’ve done wrong. Shame, on the other hand, does nothing constructive. First, it paralyzes us. Then, it goes on to mess with our sense of self-worth.

It is a fine line between a scolding that says – “Your actions created a mess” – and – “You are a mess.” But, that fine line is capable of inflicting a large amount of damage. I know someone who was made to wear a sign on their chest and walk around in public for a few days in return for a mistake they made. While the purpose may have been to guilt them, this had shame written all over it.

Good people do bad or mean things every once a while. This is especially true for kids who are still to understand the difference. Making them feel shame, sadly, is a self fulfilling prophecy.

Now that we know the difference, we will hopefully recognize it when we see it around us. Most importantly, we’ll be able to use the difference to make sure we steer clear of shaming in our lifetime.


HT: Brene Brown

3 thoughts on “Guilt and Shame

  1. This is one of those ‘perfect timing’ posts…Last night I hung out with a cousin who I haven’t seen in an entire year and it was very surprising. He, literally, didn’t ask me one question. Not even the standard, “Hey what’s man, how ya been?”

    He started off by talking about the cold weather and how he didn’t know if he should bring a sweater. It turns out that, all I did was nod my head and say, ‘ya’ for 2 hours. Not exactly what I expected.

    My cousin feels like he is a bad person…A perfect example of your post..I guess his social circle convinced him of it. Anyway, good post Rohan!

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