I usually start out by asking a person to define guilt and then define shame. Write down your definition of guilt. Now, write down your definition of shame. Do this as a learning exercise. The answers I get are varied. They usually have a similar theme. Guilt is usually defined correctly. However, many of the characteristics of shame are included in definitions of guilt. Shame is rarely defined correctly. I don’t have empirical data to support that statement. However, that is my experience over the last 25 years of working with families. The definition of shame usually includes a blending of the two definitions. Sometimes when defining these terms people get confused. Many honestly say they just don’t know the difference. Without out knowing what shame is, it is impossible to deal with shame. Most of the time, people are trying to resolve guilt when in reality they are experiencing shame.
Learn more by reading October 2011 Love in Action Newsletter @ Newsletter Archives