repost: thoughts on guilt v. shame

Via one of my consistently go-to sites — the inimitable What…me Sober? — comes this introspective and tactful comparison/contrast of guilt and shame. For anyone who has been in  recovery for more than six months, the following should come as no surprise:

  • Guilt — I’ve done something wrong.
  • Shame — There’s something wrong with me.

In a somewhat free-form comment at What… Me Sober? I pointed out my own life experience being that the above message was too often from the Church, and the message always seemed to be connected to some type of conditional behavior. While many self-proclaimed Christians said I needed to pray or read Scripture more, there was an equal number that said I obviously needed to have a demon cast out. And of course, every pastor wanted to know if I was tithing.

All of that to say simply this: It took a long time to get through that kind of deep-seated misleading theology so AA could become a healing factor in my life.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Here’s a money quote from the highly readable post:

People like us addicts, who come from a place of shame, are likely to find it hard to to react usefully to guilt, because we were taught to believe that guilt makes us less worthy. The reality is exactly the opposite. As we learn to admit our mistakes, wrongs, and other transgressions, we move farther from shame, collecting reasons to feel better about ourselves.

Go read the whole thing. Lots of food for thought.