I want to talk about guilt vs. shame.
I have always understood shame to be ‘I am bad’, and guilt being ‘what I have done is bad or wrong’. When I am bad, I have nowhere to go, I have no way of repenting, because I, myself am useless. However, when I have done something bad, my core remains good, I have just made errors in my ways. It’s the difference between being a liar (shame) and lying (guilt). If I’m a liar, how can I not be? If I lied, I can apologize and then tell the truth; if I’m actually a liar, I’m incapable of telling the truth.
Shame must be eradicated– it’s toxic, painful, unhelpful, and never motivates change. Shame lacks humility because it allows the person to stay small and stay stuck. Now, I’m not suggesting anyone wants to feel shame. What I am saying is that many people are comfortable in their discomfort of shame. It’s easier to stay there than to do the heavy lifting required to see themselves as worthy, capable humans who make mistakes and sometimes do wrong, which requires an amends.
I saw a new definition today that really impacted me: shame is dictated by others, by society, and it is rooted in behaving as others see fit, while guilt is based on one’s internal moral code.
This explanation reminds me of the quote, “What anyone thinks of me is none of my business, yet can I look in the mirror and face myself”?
What are your personal definitions of shame and guilt? Do you feel that either– or both– belong in our vocabulary?
This week, let’s view ourselves as worthy, capable people who make mistakes. By empowering ourselves, we can then take the proper steps and begin making amends for our mistakes.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
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