You’ve probably heard clients use guilt and shame interchangeably to describe their feelings.
But as practitioners, we know that shame and guilt are two very different emotions, each with its own purpose and path to healing.
That’s why we created this free infographic designed to help clients understand the key differences between these two emotions – and to understand why they may be experiencing a shame response after trauma.
Have a look.
Click the image to enlarge
Shame is feeling bad about yourself as a person. Guilt is feeling bad about what you did.
Why Do We Experience Shame?
Shame is a defense mechanism. It is a way we learned to keep ourselves safe from harm in the past. It served an important purpose in the past – it kept us safe. But now it may cause problems in our lives and relationships when we no longer need that shame to keep us safe. Shame can be a way we blame ourselves for something that happened to us that wasn’t our fault. When we feel ashamed, we may feel we can control our safety by controlling our actions and beliefs.Why It Matters
When we understand the differences between these powerful feelings, we being to understand and eliminate negative self-judgments and self-talk.
What To Do When You Experience…
Shame: Exercise self-compassion, recognize shame as a survival tactic, seek healthy connections with others, and talk to your therapist.
Guilt: Admit you are wrong, take responsibility, seek forgiveness, and change your behavior.
(If you’re sharing this infographic, please attribute it to NICABM. We put a lot of work into creating these resources for you. Thanks!)
If you’d like to print a copy, you can use one of these links:
In the Advanced Master Program on the Treatment of Trauma, we take an in-depth look at how to work with trauma-induced shame. Take a look here.
You’ll get the experts’ best techniques for working with shame. And we’ll be getting into how to treat a number of conditions that can present alongside shame – including self-harm, moral injury, and difficulty tolerating positive emotion.
You’ll hear from Bessel van der Kolk, MD; Peter Levine, PhD; Pat Ogden, PhD; Stephen Porges, PhD; Janina Fisher, PhD; and other leaders in the field.
Now we’d like to hear from you. What are some effective ways you work with guilt and shame in a session? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.
If you found this helpful, here are a few more resources you might be interested in: