Human mind and human feelings are manifested in various ways. At times, certain psychological perspectives appear to be the same and words like guilt and shame are used interchangeably. But the experiences in each case is different from each other. Actually, the same action may be the roots of different feelings. Let us consider the meanings of the words guilt and shame and try to find out their differences.
Fact 1 What Is Guilt
Guilt gives rise to a feeling of remorse or responsibility for doing something offensive. It creates an awareness about the actions done and how it has affected others’ feelings. Guilt is related to others.
Fact 2 What Is Shame
Shame is a feeling about one’s own behavior mostly wrong behavior. When a child tells lies or copies from others in class, we say that he should be ashamed of himself for doing such a bad deed. This painful feeling is absolutely one’s personal realization of the wrong or dishonorable actions that one has performed.
Fact 3 Difference Between Guilt And Shame
There are various differences between guilt and shame. Let us find them out clearly:
- Guilt is related to behavior and shame focuses on self.
- Feeling of guilt is correlated to understanding other perspectives and empathy, while shame is linked to depression, aggression, etc.
- The feeling of guilt makes you apologize to someone you have wronged. In case of shame, you realize that you are the culprit of the heinous act.
- Guilt helps one to change himself but shame hardly leads to positive changes. When one feels guilty, he tries to change himself, his behavior or attitude so that he does not hurt anyone again. But when you are shameful about yourself, you have the tendency to avoid that situation that is the cause of shame, but do not try to rectify it.
- Shame is a powerful and negative feeling that makes you stay away from others. You do not want to be social, rather hide yourself and stay within your own surroundings. It leads to disconnection. But this is not true for guilt. It is a source of healing. One tries to change his motive and dealing just as he realizes his faults and this feeling is feeling of guilt that purifies him and makes him a better person.
- Guilt is related to accountability. Shame causes pain to someone. Guilty feelings communicate disappointment but does not create negativity on the individual. But shame makes a person feel unworthy or a negative assessment about one’s self that leads to gradual depression and seclusion as well.
- Guilt does not cause any psychological problems. But shame is the source of various psycho-social problems and substance abuse. These often lead to serious problems and require proper treatment.
- Some psychologists are of the opinion that guilt makes one feel bad about what one does. But shame is an intense feeling of pain. It is an experience that gives a sense of failure and unworthiness of being cared or loved. There is no room for changes whereas the feeling of guilt helps one to improve oneself and change one’s behavior that will not become the cause of another’s pain or make someone feel bad.
- In other words, guilt is related to your actions that are incorrect and shame is feeling bad about one’s own existence, about who you are. This is a serious issue and needs immediate care. Sometime shame induces people to go for drugs and drinks to avoid intense feelings. It is like a trap.
It is best to avoid such acts that will become the cause of shame and guilt too.