Guilt and shame are often used interchangeably but are two distinct emotions.
Guilt is the remorse or regret that arises when you have done something wrong, hurtful, or unethical. It usually focuses on the specific action or behavior you feel guilty about. Guilt often prompts you to make amends or take corrective actions to rectify the situation. Guilt can be a useful emotion in motivating you to make positive changes in your behavior.
On the other hand, shame is the feeling of unworthiness, inadequacy, or humiliation that arises when you perceive that you have failed to meet certain standards or expectations, whether they are yours or those of others. Shame is a more general and pervasive feeling affecting your overall self-worth. Unlike guilt, shame is not focused on a specific action or behavior but on your entire sense of self. Shame can be debilitating, leading to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
In summary, guilt is focused on a specific action or behavior you feel remorseful about, while shame is a more general feeling of inadequacy and unworthiness that affects your overall sense of self.
DR. Rony Kusnadi, Ph.D., LCPC
Notable Life Counseling Services LLC