Shame and Guilt Introduce themselves

What is the difference?

Shame, “I am a powerful emotion. Because I am so powerful I am often weaponised. When bullies call someone fat, ugly, stupid or annoying they use me as a weapon. Whenever someone does not “fit the norm” bullies abuse me and shame their victim. Other people who use me in the same way are racists, sexists and such.

Sometimes I am abused by parents, who feel out of their depth. They load their gun with “Shame-Ammunition” and blast their way to perceived “parenting success” with a deafening gun shot of “You should be ashamed of yourself!”.

The shame weapon works by attacking the human being as a person.

Shame attacks are devastating for a person’s self-esteem, integrity and character. Truly lethal!

When I am corrupted like this I make the attacked person feel small and awful. The attacked one begins to feel inadequate, they lose their confidence, they wish they could be someone else just to escape the painful feeling of being shamed.

No surprise! Shame-ammunition is loaded with the poison of self-doubt. This will lead to reduced resiliency for further attacks and the wounds from previous attacks heal much slower.

A strong enough Resiliency armour is not easy to come by and once you have built it up it needs constant care.

In my true form I am a powerful alarm siren. I protect your intimacy. I make you aware of your vulnerabilities and help you to determine if it is safe to open up. In this case I can serve my purpose as intended and I am not lethal but harmless and helpful.”

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Guilt, “I am not very popular. I understand that. Just like Shame I can be very powerful. That’s why we often get confused. If I stay for too long or if I am too intense people often “shame-attack” themselves. Unfortunately that makes things only worse. At other times humans turn to drugs and alcohol to numb me.

What you also need to understand, is that I have really good connections with other humans’ feelings. So at times you might think that the other human’s guilt is yours. Make sure you don’t invite someone else’s guilt into our home. One human is enough for one set of guilt only!

If you are a victim of a horrific crime do not invite the perpetrators guilt in! It was them who did something wrong! Resist the urge to “self-shame-attack”.

So please, human, hear me out and remember what I am about to tell you:

Unlike shame I am not concerned with your person, with who you are. I am much more benign and focus on your actions! That’s a very important difference! Actions are simply actions. That’s all. Individual actions do not determine who you are as a person. When you feel me as a “heavy head” or as “restlessness” that’s me reminding you that you can change. That you can take responsibility for your action and make amends. I encourage you to act! Whereas a “shame attack” encourages you to withdraw and isolate.

Actions are something that you can apologise for. You cannot apologise for who you are!

Apologies are the easiest way to allow me to rest again. When you accept me and responsibility and apologise sincerely, I will send an immediate message to the other human’s feelings inviting forgiveness and kindness. 99% of the time they show up straight away.

So, again, dear human, I encourage you to be brave, acknowledge me, accept me for who I am and then allow me to rest again.”

Lukas Dressler
Psychotherapy.plus
Psychologist (MSc.)
Integrative Psychotherapist

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Lukas Dressler - Psychotherapy Plus

Counselling Psychologist (MSc.), HCPC Registered, Integrative Psychotherapist for Children and Young People.