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Video: Shame And Guilt: Benefit And Harm - Self-development
Shame and guilt are often perceived exclusively from the negative side. People would give a lot in order not to feel these painful feelings, but are they really so bad and harmful?
Many or few
Shame and guilt allow us to get along in society and become successful autonomous individuals, and, as usual, only their excesses are harmful. A successful person periodically experiences shame, it is this feeling that pushes him to develop. For example, someone does not want to look incompetent, the person carefully prepares a report. An excess of shame in this case can lead to the fact that the performance does not take place at all. And the lack of shame is possibly poor preparation. And even a negative response from the audience will not spur the speaker to prepare better next time. As a result, the person will not develop.
The useful side of guilt is that it is this feeling that helps a person live in accordance with their values and follow public morality. Unfortunately, sometimes a person takes on irrational blame for events that he cannot control. For example, not paying enough attention to a loved one, a person then feels guilty about his death. This is an example of irrational guilt that is out of proportion to reality.
The main thing is balance
Shame and guilt are considered social feelings, as they are associated with relationships between people (as opposed to the basic feelings built into us at birth, such as fear). Social feelings appear only when the child begins to perceive himself as a separate being. Drawing attention to himself, he is faced with the evaluation of others, the price of which can be embarrassment. And then the child will be torn between the desire to be in the spotlight and the fear of rejection or negative assessment. Ideally, when the child is given enough attention and quality contact, a message that he is important and valuable, but at the same time parents manage to convey that at some moments it may be inappropriate to draw attention to themselves. That is, the child receives a message that he is not the center of the universe, but is loved and valuable.
Feelings of guilt appear when a child is faced with the first responsibilities in their life. Freud came to the conclusion that our primitive, egoistic impulses are pushing us to fight the older generation, in this case guilt is simply necessary for the survival of the race. Children are intuitively afraid of their more powerful ancestors, suppress their impulses or redirect them to others. Respect and reverence for ancestors and adherence to moral values will be a healthy manifestation here. But at the same time, it would be nice to have an understanding that it is also normal to be angry with ancestors, this does not mean behaving destructively. Repressed feelings lead to destruction.
What is the difference?
Shame and guilt are easy to confuse. Often an individual experiences both feelings at the same time, which complicates the process of differentiation. R. Potter-Efran, in his book "Shame, Guilt and Alcoholism", writes that a person experiencing shame asks himself: "How could I do this?" Whereas a guilty person asks, "How could I do THIS?" That is, the focus of the ashamed person is directed inward, the person feels inadequate, imperfect, defective, his main fear is to be abandoned. In a guilty person, the focus of attention is directed outward, the feeling of guilt is always associated with some kind of action or inaction. At the same time, a person may feel good enough, but guilty of some act. The main fear of the culprit is to be punished and driven out. That is, the feeling of guilt is always associated with a violation of moral values,while a person who is ashamed may just need to be in the spotlight in order to feel their "defectiveness."
The bodily reactions to shame and guilt are also different. At the moment of shame, a person experiences reddening of the face, ears, neck, “wadded” legs. The person seems to be paralyzed, it seems to him that he is "transparent" to others. Feelings of guilt can be accompanied by a heaviness in the chest, or it can simply be expressed in the form of repetitive painful thoughts that are difficult to get rid of.
Shame and guilt are painful feelings, so our psyche learns to hide these feelings from others and from ourselves. There is such a defense against shame as perfectionism. The perfectionist is terribly frightened of failure, so he does his best to avoid it. He does not have an understanding that they learn from mistakes, for example, together with catching up from the boss, we get an understanding of how to do the right thing. The perfectionist focuses all his attention on success, in the absence of success, the whole process becomes meaningless, motivation is lost. Due to the desire for an unattainable ideal, he is constantly in the greatest stress. It can help to understand that he is good enough without being perfect, and that mistakes are valuable experiences.
Another defense against shame is arrogance. The arrogant person experiences shame and tries to regain his dignity at the expense of others, belittling them. He sees his shame in others, as if bringing it out. This mechanism is rarely recognized by the individual himself, and loneliness and ridicule in the eyes or behind the back become the price. People feel that such a person is broadcasting something completely different from what he has inside, and that he has something to hide. A quality like humility (which has nothing to do with humiliation) can help. Humility is associated with the acceptance of reality and the laws of the universe.
One of the most interesting defenses against shame is exhibitionism. It would seem that this is rather shameless behavior. But after all, according to statistics, almost all women engaged in prostitution were sexually abused in childhood or adolescence. Sexual abuse is associated with a tremendous amount of shame, intolerable to the victim on a conscious level, therefore, starting to engage in prostitution or having a promiscuous sex life, the victim seems to declare that this is completely acceptable behavior. The exhibitionist is also afraid of being alone, his self-image is formed only from the reflections of others. Left alone, such a person is afraid that he will disappear.
There are also such defenses as denial and rage. For example, employees of rehabilitation centers for alcoholics and drug addicts often encounter similar reactions from their wards.
Stop blaming yourself
The main mistake of a guilty person is to endlessly play through tormenting thoughts without performing any action. Compensation for damage or at least an apology stops this painful process, the person becomes easier. But first, it's important to understand whether you really are to blame. When raising a child, parents often “play” on feelings of guilt: “You are behaving badly, your mother is sick because of you”. Children, victims of such manipulations, carry through life the burden of unproductive, irrational, excruciating guilt and responsibility for almost everything.
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