Shame and Guilt arise when we fall short.

Brené Brown in Altas of the Heart lists 82 emotions and 13 “places we go”. I will curate the one’s most important to me. Direct quotes attributed to Brené Brown.

What drives shame and guilt?

“Shame [& Guilt] is the fear of disconnection—it’s the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal that we’ve not lived up to, or a goal that we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection.”

Shame vs Guilt

Shame is destructive, Guilt is constructive.

“Shame: “I am bad.” You get back a quiz and your grade is F. Your self-talk is I’m so stupid.””Guilt: “I did something bad.” You get back a quiz and your grade is F. Your self-talk is Going to the party instead of studying for this quiz was so stupid.”

Guilt guides us be a better person in the future. It’s the loving parent who will sit you down to talk about what happened and the consequences and the felt pain and how in the future, maybe we do better to limit this inflicted pain.

Shame demands us to be a better person in the now. It’s the militant father. “You are what you accomplish, solider! And how well you accomplish it! Do better!” That father is born from a belief that, “If I look perfect, live perfectly, work perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”

When felt, what do we do?

“Shame needs you to believe that you’re alone.”

“The antidote to shame is empathy,” Brené says. When someone else listens to us being demanding and critical and relates, the shame dissipates.

Choose to not feel alone. Phone a friend.