Untangling the Web of Guilt vs Shame

Addiction produces bad decisions, decisions that hurt ourselves and our loved ones. Part of recovery at FHE’s rehab in Florida is learning what it means to amending those wrongs, but processing the emotions that are entangled in those past choice can be a very difficult knot to untie. At our sober living houses Florida psychiatric services are available to provide you with the kind of support you need while you try to untangle those complicated moments. A powerful tool in resolving these wounds is emotional introspection and understanding the difference between guilt and shame.


What’s The Difference Between Guilt and Shame?

The central difference between guilt and shame is the difference of reproach for an action you have taken or a characteristic of your being. That is to say, when you feel guilt about something, you are feeling bad for a particular thing you did. When you feel shame, it is a bad feeling about an aspect of who you are. They are both important emotions but they carry different risks.



Guilt is a powerful tool because it highlights your past mistakes so you know where to make amends. There is a natural path forward – apologize to the person you wronged for the event, and do what you can to right it. You can think of guilt as a moral to do list. You may still feel badly for the actions you’ve taken even after doing your best to make amends, and this can be where shame comes into play.



Shame is a feeling of dissatisfaction with an aspect of our self. It is placing the focus not on any particular action but on the characteristics that motivated the action. This is a lot harder to deal with, because it is easy to get stuck in believing you can’t improve because that’s just the way you are. Where guilt gives us a path out in the form of making amends, shame often causes us to turn inwards, moving away from people to “protect them” and to not to expose your flaw. It is important to recognize and counteract this tendency – you are not irrevocably flawed. No one is. You can change. Your best tool to combat shame is confiding it in someone you trust, and allowing yourself to view your struggle through their eyes. It is incredibly difficult but can be incredibly healing and give you an opportunity to form a new view of yourself.


Contact Us Today

We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and concerns. Fill out the form below to begin your journey towards recovery today!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.