Guilt & Shame
Guilt and shame are often used interchangeably, but they are different feelings. Guilt can help you understand how your actions impact others, but shame is an inward-facing emotion that reflects how you feel about yourself.
Guilt vs. Shame
Discussing shame vs. guilt in recovery is an important aspect of success.
- Feeling remorse or responsible for something you’ve done wrong or perceived you did wrong
- Relating to a specific action like making a mistake, committing an offense, or hurting someone (intentionally or unintentionally)
Shame, on the other hand, is:
- Feeling that you are bad, worthy of contempt, or inadequate as a person
- Relating to our behavior or self, often in relation to other people’s opinions, not necessarily about a specific behavior or event
Mental Health & Shame
Evidence is increasing that serious problems can occur when shame gets deeply woven into a person’s self-image and sense of self-worth.
Someone who feels deep-seated shame and low self-esteem may not realize that it’s the motivation for many destructive behaviors, which can include substance abuse, eating disorders, road rage, domestic violence, and many other personal and social crises.