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.

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About greg w

I believe chocolate in virtually any configuration is the finest dessert in the history of mankind. I believe my wife is the sexiest woman in the world. I believe modern capitalism will never be replaced by a different -- or better -- form of economics. I believe in clutch hitting in baseball. I believe the Kimber 1911 .45 ACP is the finest handgun ever made in America. I believe the Mossberg Flex 500 pump-action 12 gauge shotgun is the best home defense ever made in America. I believe Tom Waits is the best songwriter of my generation. I believe unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers. As CS Lewis once beautifully wrote, I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. I believe that, on balance, Christianity has done more good for humans than bad. I believe it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant, With that being said, I believe there is a profound difference between knowledge and wisdom. I believe if I yell at the TV during a Colts game, they will play better. Finally, I believe I am in long-term recovery from a number of deeply rooted issues that supported and drove the various addictions in my life.