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The Difference Between GUILT and SHAME

July 10, 2009

In a previous blog we talked about the difference between “failing” and “being a failure”.  This blog is very similar. 

Understanding the difference between GUILT and SHAME is important in any type of recovery. 

Guilt is our natural response to stepping over boundaries.  Our boundaries.  God’s boundaries.  Boundaries in our relationships.  When we sin, we feel guilt.  A conviction from God’s Spirit that we have fallen short.  Guilt is what we naturally feel over our failings. 

Guilt is a normal emotion to have.  It can be a healthy motivator for us to move back toward right relationships and healthy behavior. 

The appropriate response to guilt is confession.  Confession is admitting one’s failures.  Agreeing.  Acknowledgement.  When we confess our sins to God, we agree with Him that we have failed to meet his standards.  When we confess to others, we acknowledge that we have not lived up to the requirements of the relationship.  We need to be active in our confession. 

Shame stems from a lie we believe about ourselves.  The message of: “I’m worthless.”, “I’m a failure.”, “I’m no good.”, “I’m hopeless.”  These are negative messages about our worth. 

shameShame is a destructive emotion.  It is an indicator that there is something deeper inside you that needs attention.  Shame does not come from God.  Shame comes from ourselves and from other people.  I don’t believe that there is such a thing as “healthy shame”. 

The appropriate response to shame is confronting the lie and believing God’s truths about ourselves.  “God don’t make no junk!” my preacher friend used to say.  God created you.  You have value and purpose.  You have worth to Him, even if others do not see it. 

Shame will come.  We need to learn to recognize the messages behind it as lies and respond in a healthy way. 

Q:  What would you have to add about guilt and shame?
Q:  What have you learned about dealing with your guilt and shame?
Q:  Do you agree or disagree? 

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