Shame & Guilt

Shame and guilt are common, painful emotions experienced by human beings. Many times, when people talk about shame and guilt the words are used interchangeably or inaccurately. However, it is important we know the difference between the two, so we don’t end up captive to an unhealthy and isolating emotional and spiritual condition. True guilt allows us to feel the consequence of doing something wrong. In this sense, it is a good emotion in that it prompts us to correct the wrong action and seek to make it right. Shame, on the other hand, is an isolating emotion that leads someone to believe they are flawed, unworthy, and/or not enough. Instead of being limited to a specific wrong action, shame essentially labels someone’s core being. True guilt, as conviction from the Holy Spirit, is a gift from God that allows us to be reconciled, while false guilt as shame leads to fear, internal turmoil and isolation that leads to a cycle of despair.

Shame & Guilt Podcast Episodes
In these episodes of Breaking Bread, Ted Witzig Jr. sorts out the distinctions between guilt and shame and how we should respond to each.

True Guilt/False Guilt
This graphic highlights the differences between true guilt and false guilt. While true guilt can be helpful if it leads us to correct wrong behavior, false guilt leads to an endless cycle of shame, hopelessness, and despair [ACCFS].   

True Guilt vs. False GuiltA Biblical Look at Knowing vs. Feeling 
This article focuses on outlining a theological framework of guilt as opposed to the emotion of guilt. For some this may seem like an unnecessary distinction, but it is quite important to consider what the Bible teaches about guilt and how that may or may not line up with the emotional experience of guilt [ACCFS].   

 What Do I Do With Regret? 
What to do with regret? We typically handle regret in one of two ways: shame or guilt. Only one, however, sets us free from regret. This video scribe shows the difference [ACCFS].   

 From Shame to Hope
Shame can be a great tool of Satan to keep an individual from the hope that is in the gospel. This resource traces the path from shame to hope and provides instruction on how to help others navigate this path [ACCFS].  

 The Compassion-Based Workbook for Christian Clients
Author: Joshua Knabb, Psy.D.
This 174-page workbook helps readers find freedom from shame and negative self-judgments through Christian compassion-based treatment. The author uses biblical examples, attachment to God, healthy God image, Christian meditation, and many other strategies to help individuals overcome internal condemnation. Christians struggling with a shame-based identity, perfectionism, self-criticism, and/or a harsh God-image will find this book very supportive their spiritual beliefs as they seek to overcoming those challenges.