Shame…Guilt-There is a difference.

images

Shame and guilt are emotional terms that are all-too-readily used interchangeably and yet there is a definite divide between the two.  Guilt can be defined as a negative emotional reaction to something we have DONE.  Shame can be defined as a negative emotional reaction to WHO WE ARE.  The two are quite different in how they make us feel internally as well as in how we cope with them.  Guilt can more often be alleviated through changes in behaviors that better ensure the offending/inappropriate actions are not repeated.   In other words-stop the offending action=stop the negative emotions.

Shame, however, often runs much more internally.  Because it is the result of how we intrinsically feel about ourselves, it is much deeper rooted.  Victims and survivors of abuse-sexual, physical, emotional-often experience shame as a result of what has been done to them.  They are left with a feeling of being flawed, wrong, dirty, and unable to be loved due to the actions of another.  Shame is an emotional state that is immensely painful for the client suffering through it and it is a difficult emotional state for a therapist to help alleviate.  One of the most powerful tools a therapist has when assisting a client in working through their abuse-based shame is empathy and validation.  Reassuring your patient that, as a human being, they are worthy and innately good and bear no responsibility for that which they have experienced can have a profound effect.  This validation of a lack of blame coupled with bolstering their self-worth can help turn a sense of shame into a sense of resilience.   And that strength rising out of the ashes of abuse and shame, it is a truly beautiful thing.

Namaste!

Advertisements
Standard

One thought on “Shame…Guilt-There is a difference.

  1. Jack Moore says:

    “I am a person of inherent goodness, worth and dignity. No one can take that away from me, only I can argue with it.” The late William P. O’Malley, Esq. or Bill O, as we in the program lovingly called him, urged us to say this daily as part of our early recovery program. I say your analysis is spot on.Thanks Sara!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s