The Difference Between Guilt and Shame

The two feelings of guilt and shame go hand in hand. You may experience both feelings simultaneously from one action or event. Because guilt and shame are similar to each other, people may get confused. Here’s a detailed explanation of each emotion to help you differentiate between guilt and shame.

Guilt is what you feel when you do something wrong, something against social morals and law or when you imagine doing something wrong. Those who feel it are completely aware of their wrong actions and sometimes tend to correct these actions.

It has to do more with possession and actions. One may feel guilty for hurting people physically or mentally. Guilt is a very disturbing emotion. However, your sense of guilt keeps your conscience awake and sometimes prevents you from doing wrong deeds.

On the other hand, shame is feeling guilty about something beyond our control. You feel worthless, embarrassed, and humiliated by things like a certain part of your body, a personality trait, a specific physical feature, or your look in general.

These are things a person is born with. However, most of us have a certain thing in our personality that makes us insecure and ashamed. One can also feel ashamed and embarrassed of a certain action he did and it is not even wrong.

This means that shame, like guilt, is associated with actions but it focuses more on the person himself. Shame is unhealthy if it’s left untreated. It lowers your self-esteem and makes you see yourself as a bad person.

In brief, many people may confuse guilt with shame and vice versa. The two emotions are indeed related but slightly different from each other. It’s like the difference between making a mistake and being the mistake. Feeling guilty makes you blame yourself for something that you actually did, on the other hand, feeling ashamed makes you blame yourself for no good reason. This means that shame relates to yourself whereas guilt relates to others.

It’s okay to feel guilty as long as it pushes you forward and makes you correct your mistakes and it’s okay to feel shame as long as you do not surrender to it. We as human beings cannot control our emotions and feelings, but we can control the actions resulting from these emotions.

Choose your Reaction!