Guilt vs. Shame

I found this piece of writing, by Brené Brown, about how she sees the difference between guilt and shame.

Brown sees it as crucial that we differentiate between the two. The subtle difference is profound.

She sees guilt as helpful and adaptive. The ability to admit “I’ve made a mistake” is important for our growth and humility.

However, shame is a way to label ourselves and live a narrative that’s hard to escape from. There is a profound difference between the above statement about owning up to mistakes and the phrase: “I am a mistake”.

Being ashamed about something is not a solution to moving forwards. It can lead to a spiral of self-destructive behaviour.

If we can move away from the idea that we’re unworthy, to one of being innately good but that we all make mistakes, we can move to a healthier perspective of ourselves.

We sometimes need guilt to move us to humility and to ask for forgiveness, but the label of shame will only cause us more pain and not actually move us forwards.