Differences between Shame and Guilt

Posted by Richard Killion in Personal Growth.

Difference Shame and Guilt

Many years ago, the late John Bradshaw wrote a wonderful book called “Healing The Shame That Binds You”. This book explored the complicated dynamics of shame and guilt as it pertained to addiction. Many of Bradshaw’s writings on substance abuse were considered groundbreaking and have had a tremendous impact in the treatment community. Interestingly enough, shame and guilt are universal themes in therapy whether or not substance abuse is present in the client’s life.

The main thing I have always remembered from this book were his descriptions of shame and guilt. Guilt occurs when you do something wrong; shame is when there is something wrong with you. Shame is far more toxic and damaging than guilt because it hits you at your core. Unfortunately, guilt often digresses into shame.

There are mental health professionals I have heard say that guilt is a useful emotion because it can trigger a person’s conscience to do the right thing. In other words, if I feel guilty for doing something or not doing something, then there is a purpose to guilt. I’ve never been a fan of this logic. My questions are: Does one need guilt in order to make the right decisions? Is a feeling of guilt the best indicator of finding direction?

I’ve met people whose lives have been directed by their feelings of guilt. Just because you feel guilty about something doesn’t mean that you’ve found the answer to a problem. The guilt is not the answer but only an indicator of how you feel at the time.

If one lives a life based on guilt, at what point can shame take over? At what point does one go from feeling they do things wrong to there’s something wrong with them?

 

This is part 13 of the series Meditations on Wellbeing. In this series Psychotherapist and Life Coach Richard Killion shares experiences from his corner of the world. Enjoy his succinct, insightful bits about human behavior and mental wellbeing.

About the Author

Richard Killion

Richard Killion is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Life Coach with over 18 years of experience consulting individuals, groups and organizations. From a coaching perspective, Richard helps people succeed with life transitions. As a therapist he works with clients needing assistance with anxiety, depression, grief and loss, relationship issues and communications.

©2022 Lifevise     Privacy Policy  |  Terms
💚 The Science of Friendship
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
✍️ Writing Around the World
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
🌱 Developing a Growth Mindset
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
👂 Active Listening
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
💭 Anxiety Management
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
💪 Empowered Weight Loss
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
💸 How To Improve Your Relationship with Money 
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
💙 Finding Your Purpose
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
🔥 Introversion as a Superpower
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
🔥 Memorable Customer Service
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
😁 The Science of Happiness
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
❣️ Relationship and Depression
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
💭 Overcoming Social Anxiety
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
💪 Setting and Achieving Fitness Goals
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
 😎 The Confidence Advantage
Join this course and receive the first lesson tomorrow morning. 
Join Course
close-link
Take this to your inbox.
Receive a new growth idea every two weeks.
Sign Up
close-link
🚀 Join over 4,000 lifelong learners getting one actionable personal growth tip every week.
Sign Up
close-image
Sign up and receive the first month for free!
or

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?