Tag Archives: Shame

Our “Fatal” Flaws

The words guilt and shame are often used interchangeably, but they have very different meanings. Guilt is the result of something we either did or didn’t do (if we believe we should have done it). In other words, guilt arises from an act we have some control over. The act or omission may be unintentional, but we were still the agent in the situation.

Shame relates to our sense of self, of who we are as a person, our very identity. Some of the things we’re ashamed of are things we may have no control over. People are often ashamed of some aspect of how they look (too short, too tall, freckles, thick ankles) or of their backgrounds, for example. We are often ashamed of our perceived flaws, whether those flaws are physical, mental, emotional, or some combination thereof.

Guilt and shame are both feelings. It’s definitely possible to feel both guilty and ashamed of something we did or didn’t do—especially when our actions seem to confirm our worst fears about ourselves. Continue reading