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feeling not worthy

Guilt Or Shame :: How To Know The Difference

Guilt Or Shame :: How To Know The Difference

People often confuse guilt with shame. They are complex states, and as a therapist who works with both men and women, shame seems particularly hard for men feel vulnerable enough to identify. And women cover shame in some interesting ways as well. So what are the differences between the two? Guilt is an experience that we have related to something we may have done. “I feel really lousy about my behavior last night, and I’d like to make it better with us.” When we experience guilt, we come to terms with a behavior or problem and work to correct it. Some people don’t actually experience guilt for many reasons, but we can save that for another post.

Shame is complicated and the road to recovery is not so easy. Shame also goes hand in hand with secrecy and sometimes even isolation and despair. People can feel very alone with their shame. Shame reactions, when unmanageable, can even drive some to suicide. Many deal with shame by punishing themselves. Often an individual may have identified with the voices of important others in their development—a parent who projects, or individuals who have been bullied, scapegoated or shamed by others. Some people are sensitive and will “carry” the shame of the family. Therapists see this often.

Kimberly Seelbrede, LCSW is a New York licensed Psychotherapist and Consultant with extensive training and experience. She provides pscyhological consultation, therapy and coaching to a range of clients including high-profile clients, working in-person, online and worldwide. As an EMDR therapist, couples therapist + women's emotional health expert, her specialties include: anxiety, depression, trauma resolution, addictions, relationship, intimacy and sexual concerns, health + autoimmune issues, loss + grief, creative, VIP + high-profile clients. She enjoys writing, photography, yoga, travel and really good key lime pie. For more, subscribe to her newsletter or connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Psychology Today, EMDRIA and her personal website or blog.