Feeling Guilty or Ashamed
It can be a heavy burden to experience guilt or shame. In this post, we’ll look into the difference between guilt and shame, why we may experience these feelings, and how to deal with them.
by Benedicte Nellemann Dittmer
Feeling guilty or ashamed
It can be a heavy burden to experience guilt or shame. Essentially, both feelings are meant to promote socially acceptable behavior which will benefit our relations. Still, sometimes our conscience may become a bit too critical of us in the process... And then it can be hard to figure out what to do, especially without a bit of guidance 🤷
In this post, we’ll look into the difference between guilt and shame, why we may experience these feelings, and how to deal with them.
The difference between guilt and shame
The feelings of shame and guilt can be hard to distinguish between, as they have a lot in common. They both have an aspect of remorse and can give that twisting feeling to your stomach 🌀
But there are actually significant differences between the two feelings.
According to the American Psychology Association (APA), guilt can be defined as a "self-conscious emotion characterized by a painful appraisal of having done (or thought) something that is wrong and often by a readiness to take action designed to undo or mitigate this wrong.". On the other hand, shame can be defined as a "strong fear of one’s deeds being publicly exposed to judgment or ridicule."
In other words, feeling guilty means you feel bad about a thing you *did* or *didn’t do* and a need to undo this wrong. However, feeling ashamed means you feel that not only your actions were wrong, but that your entire person is wrong.
Why do we experience guilt and shame?
If we look at the feeling of shame and embarrassment from a societal perspective, we see that these feelings help us promote behavior that benefits the community around us.
As kids, we learn not to do things that others react negatively to. In that way, we become conscientious of the norms and social rules around us. At first, we’re disciplined by others around us, but as we grow up, we start to internalize the rules in our society, disciplining ourselves with feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment. In other words, we start feeling bad when we do something that might not be okay in our social settings.
What to do?
Feelings of guilt and shame are perfectly normal. However, they can become a bit of a burden on us if they get out of proportion. In order to relieve feelings of shame and guilt, it can be helpful to learn how to identify these feelings and what actions to take if you experience them.
In the Nuna app, it’s now possible to try out 5 new tools, that help you navigate different aspects of the feeling of guilt and shame. If you’re dealing with inflated responsibility, regret, body shame, or high expectations of yourself, head in there to learn more about what steps to take next 💪