guilt v. shame

i just like this view + cute little Eli :)

one year older and hopefully one year wiser. 
wiser where it matters--how i treat myself & view my worth. 

starting with my guilt. 
my debilitating guilt.
or what i always used to call guilt.

but actually it's not guilt.
we use the word "guilt" a lot when describing our feelings but fail to recognize what it really means.

guilt = the belief that i did something bad.
but shame on the other hand = the belief that i am bad.

we use guilt & shame interchangeably but they are in fact two distinctly different emotions.
they reflect how we view ourselves and how we deal with disappointment, failure, and heartache.

guilt focuses on our behavior & actions. the feeling of guilt leads us to more prosocial behavior, it helps us find ways to fix the problem and change the situation.
shame focuses on our feelings and turns us inward. we want to hide, we feel unworthy and hopeless of ever being better than we are currently. we feel stuck. shame is destructive.

after a conversation with my counselor i opened up about all the things i feel bad about.
past mistakes, present actions, future wrongs i'm sure to commit...
and ultimately, why i don't think i deserve certain things.
she calmly confronted me and said what i was really feeling was shame,
because shame is what turned me into a self-loathing person.

anytime i start to beat myself up
{the most common thought: i'm a terrible mom because... lots of reasons}
i try to remember the difference between guilt vs. shame and adjust my actions or feelings accordingly.

a) i can either let the feelings consume me and give in to the fact that yes, i am a terrible mother.
b) i can use those feelings to work hard to overcome my weaknesses, to fix my mistakes that i feel bad about, and to push me to be a better person.
to reach my full potential.
to realize i am worth it all. 

guilt = [can be] healthy/natural part of life
shame = unhealthy

guilt = i can accept in my life to make worthwhile changes
shame = has no place here

p.s. for a maybe more upbeat post ;), i'm being featured over at Style Elixir as this week's Head Stylist. so so exciting!!! check it out here


Jenna Foote said...

That is really enlightening, Megan. It will certainly make me rethink the way I feel about myself.

Amanda said...

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this! You really opened my eyes. I didn't realize how much I suffered from shame, but you are totally right! Thank you!

Cody Doll said...

This is an awesome post. Shame and guilt offend get mixed up as well as the feelings.

Ashley said...

I mix these two up all the time too.

Megan Tenney said...

Very interesting. And unfortunately very familiar!