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Difference Between Guilt and Shame

shameGuilt vs Shame
After you’ve done something wrong, many people use the words guilt and shame interchangeably. However, there are some major differences between the two terms and to confuse them would be to lessen the healing power of guilt and strengthen the destructive power of shame.

It’s All How You Look At It
Guilt ‘“ can actually be a very constructive emotion. When you feel guilty you recognize that one of your actions was wrong and may have caused someone else harm. Guilt is feeling sorry for something you did.
Shame ‘“ is a harmful emotion that eats away at your self-esteem. When you feel shame it is because you believe a part of who you are is intrinsically bad. You end up feeling sorry for who you are. It is possible that the same action may produce guilt in one person and shame in another. It all depends on how that wrongdoer and the people around him react to his actions.

Generalized Responses
Guilt ‘“ often is coupled with remorse and regret. Someone who feels guilt is genuinely sorry for his actions and wants to make amends. In fact, the entire concept of confession in the Catholic Church is based on the proper feeling of guilt. The parishioner must feel sorry for what he did and be willing to perform a penance in order to set things right. If someone feels guilty for a past action, he will strive not to repeat that action in the future.

Shame ‘“ can cause feelings of remorse, but also of pain and humiliation. A shameful person doesn’t feel as though there is anything concrete that he can do to relieve his shame. He may therefore lash out in unproductive ways and will often increase his shame or proceed to create shame in others.

Society Harnesses Guilt and Shame
Guilt ‘“ was already shown to be used as a cathartic tool in the Catholic Church. It is also a good moral compass and can be used to effect social change. For instance, much of our women’s rights and civil rights movements were based on making the general populace feel guilty about the way a certain group was being treated.

Shame ‘“ is the tool of abusers and perpetrators of genocide. Though the scale of destruction differs, shame is used as a weapon to make a person or group of people feel that they aren’t good enough and not worthy to seek outside help. Things beyond our control, such as our heritage, are the favored agents of shame.

1.Guilt happens when you feel bad about your actions while shame happens when you feel bad about who you are as a person.
2.Guilt causes a person to want to make amends and reform while shame makes a person frustrated and humiliated.
3.Guilt can be used to effect positive behaviors or social change while shame can create obedience and give authority to abusive personalities.

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