Shame vs. Guilt

When I was first introduced to this topic, my first thought was, ‘Aren’t they the same thing?’ I’m curious, how many of you thought something similar?

I feel like many of us don’t know the difference; the only people I’ve talked to that do know the difference have a past of counseling or education in development. Knowing that most people I’ve met don’t have this distinction I wanted to share my experience with this; I think this will help with making happiness a mindset.

Two weeks ago with sharing my toolbox, I spoke about negative self-talk. I went on about what I did to change that for myself. Part of what helped is understanding that my negative talk was me shaming myself constantly. Something else I realized about myself when learning about shame was that I was really good at giving it out, especially to my husband. He even said that I made this face that he nicknamed the ‘shame face’. I thought he was making it up until I saw my daughter make the face at two years old, how shameful! (haha see what I did there?) In recognizing what shame was I changed the way I spoke to myself and started to change how I spoke to those around me.

Shame is a focus on yourself and guilt is focused on behavior.

Shame says:            vs.            Guilt says:

I am bad                                    I made a bad choice

I am a mistake                         I made a mistake

I am a failure                            I failed at this attempt

Here’s your experiment to try this next week, when your day is going bad, what are you saying to yourself? When you find it difficult to get yourself motivated to do something, which voice are you listening to? I’d love to hear your results; what you realized about yourself.

The best teacher I can give you to go further in depth about this is Brene Brown. I’m going to post two links to two videos she did for Ted Talks. She has written several books and I’d wholeheartedly recommend them to you. You will be redirected to another window when you click on the links and they’re each around 20 minutes long, still completely worth watching!

The Power of Vulnerability

Listening to Shame

Now I’m going to take this to a spiritual level. This is something I struggled with. When it came to repentance I always thought I needed to reach a certain level of me being the best I could be to receive Grace; to use the Atonement. I never thought myself good enough to even reach the level I had set for myself. I shamed myself into thinking I was never enough. I was so wrong. I’d never been so wrong in my entire life!

This talk by Brad Wilcox, His Grace is Sufficient, gave me a wonderful understanding of what Grace really means for each one of us. I recommend reading it even if you aren’t LDS, it’s a great reminder of what Christ did for us. Don’t let shame keep you from becoming closer to Christ.


If you are someone who struggled with this and have a recommendation for something to read or listen to, please share in the comments below!


One thought on “Shame vs. Guilt

  1. Pingback: Gratitude | Happy With Imperfection

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