If we have the courage to say the word shame, the majority of us misuse it. It’s really common for the words shame and guilt to be used incorrectly and interchangeably. Using the word guilt is much safer and comfortable than saying shame so it’s often used in shames place. With this being said, let’s get to the bottom of what shame is. Brene Brown, shame researcher, defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling of being flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging”.
Shame can be the nagging inner voice telling us we are not good enough, we are broken, we are a fraud, we need to be someone other than ourself or just that no one will love us as we are. These critical, cruel voices rob us from living a compassionate and authentic life.
The difference between guilt and shame is that shame is the belief that “something is wrong with me” and guilt is the belief that “I did something wrong”. Like day and night. There is a huge difference in these two emotions. Shame is internalized and person centered whereas guilt is externalized and behavior based. Shame can be a soul eating dangerous emotion and guilt if used correctly can be a protective barrier.
The silver living is we all have shame and you’re not alone in the experience. There are practices and skills to assist in bravely facing shame and making different choices to live the life you want!