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Difference between Guilt and Shame

Difference between Guilt and Shame

Guilt vs. Shame

What is Difference between Guilt and Shame? After doing something wrong, many people use the words guilt and shame indistinctly. However, there are big differences between the two terms and confusing them would be like diminishing the healing power of guilt and strengthening the destructive power of shame.

Difference between Guilt and Shame

Everything has to do with how you look at it

• Guilt-may actually is a constructive emotion. When you feel guilt you recognize that one of your actions was wrong and could cause harm to someone. The guilt is feeling sorry for something you did.
• Guilt-it is a harmful emotion that slowly corrodes your self-esteem. When you feel guilt is because you believe that a part of who you are is intrinsically bad. You end up feeling sorry for who you are.
• It is possible that the same action may produce guilt in one person and shame in another. Everything depends on how the author of the bad work and the people around him react to his actions.

Generalized Responses

Guilt-often accompanied by remorse and regret. Someone who feels guilty is really sorry for their actions and wants to compensate for it. In fact, the total concept of confession in the Catholic Church is based on the appropriate feeling of guilt. The parishioner must regret what he did and be willing to perform a penance to fix things. If someone feels guilty for an act of the past, he will endeavor not to commit that action in the future.
Shame-can causes feelings of remorse, but also of pain and humiliation. An ashamed person does not feel that he can do something concrete to alleviate his shame. Therefore he will attack in unproductive ways and very often he will increase the shame or he will proceed to create shame in others.
Society takes full advantage of guilt and shame

Guilt-was already used as a cathartic tool in the Catholic Church. It is also a good moral compass and can be used to achieve social change. For example, many of the movements for women’s rights and civil rights are based on making the general population feel guilty about the manner in which a certain group was being treated.

Shame-it is a tool of abusers and perpetuators of genocide. Although the scale of destruction differs, shame is used as a weapon to make a person or group of people feel that they are not good enough and that they do not deserve to seek help outside. Things beyond our control, like our heritage, are the agents favored by shame.


• Guilt happens when you feel bad about your actions while shame happens when you feel bad about who you are as a person.
• Guilt causes a person to want to amend and reform while shame makes the person frustrated and humiliated.
• Guilt can be used to achieve positive behaviors or social change while shame can create obedience and empower abusive personalities.

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