Difference Between Shame and Guilt

The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene’ Brown Ph.D.

“What’s the difference between shame and guilt? The majority of shame researchers and clinicians agree that the difference between shame and guilt is best understood as the differences between “I am bad” and “I did something bad.” 

Guilt = I did something bad.

 Shame = I am bad.

In the book “Changes That Heal,” Dr. Henry Cloud describes how Adam and Eve first felt shame:

“Without grace, Adam and Eve felt shame: when they heard God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, they hid from him. When God called out, “Where are you?” Adam explained that he was hiding because he was afraid (Gen. 3:8–10). Shame and guilt had entered the world; human beings were no longer safe. After Adam and Eve cut themselves off from a relationship with God, they also severed their connection to grace and truth, for those come through relationship with God. 

“Shame is about who we are, and guilt is about our behaviors. We feel guilty when we hold up something we’ve done or failed to do against the kind of person we want to be. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, but one that’s helpful. When we apologize for something we’ve done, make amends to others, or change a behavior that we don’t feel good about, guilt is most often the motivator. Guilt is just as powerful as shame, but its effect is often positive while shame often is destructive. When we see people apologize, make amends, or replace negative behaviors with more positive ones, guilt is often the motivator, not shame. In fact, in my research, I found that shame corrodes the part of us that believes we can change and do better.”

Matthew 2 Highlights

  1. Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea while Herod was King.
  2. Wise men following the Jesus star traveled many miles to come and worship the “newborn king of the Jews.
  3. Herod was not the rightful heir to the throne of David, so he became very disturbed and paranoid when he heard of the birth of Jesus.
  4. The prophet Micah had written:

‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,

    are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,

for a ruler will come from you

    who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.” Micah 5:2

  1.  Herod was a wicked and deceitful man. After talking with the wisemen he asked them to return and locate the baby Jesus so he could kill Jesus.
  2. The wisemen blessed Joseph, Mary and Jesus with gifts. They bowed down and worshipped Jesus. (They recognized Jesus as the Messiah).
  3. When it was time for the wisemen to leave they returned to their own country, because God had spoken to them in a dream. The wise men did not inform Herod of Jesus’ location.
  4. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and Joseph obeys instructions and takes his family to Egypt.
  5. When Herod realized the wisemen had betrayed him he became furious. He ordered all male children under the age of two years old to be killed in an obsessive attempt to kill Jesus. Jeremiah 31:15 (And we complain about the pandemic)!
  6. When Herod died, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take his family back to Israel. Hosea 11:1
  7. While in Israel, Joseph was warned by an angel of the Lord to leave and the family went to Nazareth.
  8. The scriptures in bold are prophecies fulfilled by the birth of Jesus the son of God.

Sidebar:  Do you think God speaks to you in your dreams?

Shame Resilience 101

The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene’ Brown Ph.D.

“‘Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.’”

Shame causes us to feel unworthy and unlovable. Even when my Yorkie (Lilly) does something she knows is wrong – like chewing up my favorite pair of reading glasses; poor Lilly will hang her head in shame. Shame limits her usually happy and friendly personality.

“Here are the first three things that you need to know about shame: 

  • We all have it. Shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions that we experience. The only people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection. 
  • We’re all afraid to talk about shame. 
  • The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.”


“In addition to the fear of disappointing people or pushing them away with our stories, we’re also afraid that if we tell our stories, the weight of a single experience will collapse upon us. There is a real fear that we can be buried or defined by an experience that, in reality, is only a sliver of who we are.”

YES!! Brene’ Brown just hit the nail on the head! If I tell people–will they ever be able to look at me without blame or pity or worse—disgust in their eyes? Will they think I am foolish or weak minded? What if? What if? What if? FEAR is huge! In your eyes the swamp may be filled with a lot of hungry alligators just waiting to chew you up.

“Shame needs three things to grow out of control in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment. When something shaming happens and we keep it locked up, it festers and grows. It consumes us. We need to share our experience. Shame happens between people, and it heals between people. If we can find someone who has earned the right to hear our story, we need to tell it. Shame loses power when it is spoken. In this way, we need to cultivate our story to let go of shame, and we need to develop shame resilience in order to cultivate our story. After a decade of research, I found that men and women with high levels of shame resilience share these four elements: 

  • They understand shame and recognize what messages and expectations trigger shame for them.
  •  They practice critical awareness by reality-checking the messages and expectations that tell us that being imperfect means being inadequate. 
  • They reach out and share their stories with people they trust. 
  • They speak shame—they use the word shame, they talk about how they’re feeling, and they ask for what they need.”

Tomorrow we will discuss the difference between guilt and shame. 

Is it not natural and necessary to feel like a quilt whenever we do something wrong or immoral? Shouldn’t we be ashamed?

Matthew 1 Highlights

Matthew was a Jewish tax collector who became one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. The book of Matthew’s purpose is to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed and promised eternal King, our Savior.

  1. Matthew list the Jewish family line of Jesus. Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, the father of all Jews, God’s chosen people.
  2. The first 17 verses of Matthew span 2000 years, 46 individual people are listed. All were ancestors of Jesus.
  3. The ancestors of Jesus had different personalities and spiritual levels of maturity.
  4. Some ancestors were champions of faith, like Abraham, Ruth and David.
  5. Some ancestors had bad reputations like Rahab and Tamar.
  6. God is not limited in who He can work through.
  7. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
  8. Joseph was faced with a very difficult situation when he learned Mary was pregnant.
  9. God’s wisdom and guidance helped Joseph to make the right decision.
  10. Angels are spiritual beings created by God who help carry out his work.
  11. Joseph chose to obey God’s command through the angel.
  12. When our decisions affect the lives of others, we must always seek God’s wisdom and then be willing to follow God’s direction no matter how difficult.

The Things That Get In The Way II

The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene’ Brown Ph.D.

“In Jungian circles, shame is often referred to as the swampland of the soul. I’m not suggesting that we wade out into the swamp and set up camp. I’ve done that and I can tell you that the swampland of the soul is an important place to visit, but you would not want to live there. What I’m proposing is that we learn how to wade through it. We need to see that standing on the shore and catastrophisizing about what could happen if we talked honestly about our fears is actually more painful than grabbing the hand of a trusted companion and crossing the swamp. And, most important, we need to learn why constantly trying to maintain our footing on the shifting shore as we gaze across to the other side of the swamp—where our worthiness waits for us—is much harder work than trudging across. “How-to” is a seductive shortcut, and I understand that. Why cross the swamp if you can just bypass it?”

I will be honest, I do not like to talk about past trauma in my life. It is over. I can’t change it so why dig it up? I have chosen to forgive and move on. Do I really need to go back into the swamp? Hmmmm? Let’s keep reading. 

“But here’s the dilemma: Why is “how-to” so alluring when, truthfully, we already know “how to” yet we’re still standing in the same place longing for more joy, connection, and meaning? Most everyone reading this book knows how to eat healthy. I can tell you the Weight Watchers points for every food in the grocery store. I can recite the South Beach Phase I grocery shopping list and the glycemic index like they’re the Pledge of Allegiance. We know how to eat healthy. We also know how to make good choices with our money. We know how to take care of our emotional needs. We know all of this, yet… We are the most obese, medicated, addicted, and in-debt Americans EVER.”

I must admit every line above is true! I know all about “how-to” yet, I struggle. I have tried going to a counselor, both times I was afraid to tell them the truth. I guess you could say, I was afraid of “drowning in a swamp” I felt I had already escaped from.

What has your experience been talking about your past?

“We don’t talk about what keeps us eating until we’re sick, busy beyond human scale, desperate to numb and take the edge off, and full of so much anxiety and self-doubt that we can’t act on what we know is best for us. We don’t talk about the hustle for worthiness that’s become such a part of our lives that we don’t even realize that we’re dancing.”

Can you relate to dancing the “hustle for worthiness?”

I definitely can! My whole life had been one great hustle dance! Always trying to do everything right! Please everybody. Trying harder and doing more……always struggling to believe I was good enough.

“Shame is that warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed, and never good enough. If we want to develop shame resilience—the ability to recognize shame and move through it while our worthiness and authenticity—then we have to talk about why shame happens. Honest conversations about shame can change the way we live, love, parent, work, and build relationships. I have more than one thousand letters and emails from readers of I Thought It Was Just Me, my book on shame resilience, that all say the same thing: “I can’t believe how much talking about shame changed my life!” (And I promise, even if you’re eating while you’re talking about shame, you’ll be okay.)”

As we go further into this study I hope you will find a new clarity of how amazing you are. I pray great healing and comfort will be found within our reading and discussions.

Jude Highlights

Jude wrote to motivate Christians to defend and protect their faith. He was writing against false teachers who were saying Christians could do as they pleased without fear of God’s punishment. Jude warns against turning away from a faithful commitment to Christ.

  1. There are destructive consequences to sin.
  2. God is Holy.
  3. Jude gives three examples of rebellion:
  • The nation of Israel refused to trust God and enter the Promised land(Numbers 14:26-39).
  • Angels who gave into pride, joined Satan and rebelled against God (2 Peter 2:4).
  • The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah- the people living within were so full of sin God wiped them off the face of the earth (Genesis 19:1-29).
  1. Jude gives three examples of men who did whatever they wanted:
  • Cain, who murdered his brother out of jealousy (Genesis 4:1-16).
  • Balaam, who prophesied out of greed (Numbers 22-24).
  • Korah, who rebelled wanting power for himself (Numbers 16:1-35).
  1. Keep yourself safe by staying in God’s love.
  2. Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  3. Hate sin but love the sinner.
  4. Be careful not to become so much like unbelievers that no one can tell who you are or what you believe.
  5. God can keep us from failing, and He guaranteed that if we will remain faithful, He will bring us into His presence with joy.

Things That Get In The Way

The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene’ Brown, Ph.D.,

Have you ever experienced an embarrassing situation like Brene’ Brown described when she spoke at the UP conference? 

Being misrepresented or misunderstood for who we are or for what we represent can be challenging for anyone. Pretending is easy. Facing the truth takes courage and work. 

Brene’ Brown was really bullied (in my opinion) into keeping her speech “light and breezy.”

Most people don’t want to dig deep to find out why they aren’t happy or why they live in fear and shame. They just want to keep things “light and breezy,” Instead, they just want to know “how to” be happy and fulfilled. 

” I’m not about the “how-to” because in ten years, I’ve never seen any evidence of “how-to” working without talking about the things that get in the way.”

What “things” are getting in your way?

“We don’t change, we don’t grow, and we don’t move forward without the work. If we really want to live a joyful, connected, and meaningful life, we must talk about things that get in the way.”

What work do you need to begin to live a joyful, connected and meaningful life?

“If we want to live and love with our whole hearts, and if we want to engage with the world from a place of worthiness, we have to talk about the things that get in the way—especially shame, fear, and vulnerability.”

Do you have someone you feel comfortable talking to about the things that are getting in your way? If not, please contact me through email, text or PM. The first step to freedom begins with the courage to share your story. There are many resources available.

3 John Highlights

This is a personal letter from John to Gaius, who was taking care of traveling teachers and missionaries. In this letter, John also addresses Christians who are proud and refuse to serve others. All Christians should walk in love, working together to support God’s work both at home and around the world.

  1. God is concerned about both our body and our soul so that we are at our best for His service.
  2. Hospitality (welcoming others into your home) is a way to show love and support to fellow believers.
  3. It is the responsibility of churches and Christian individuals to support those who are called to full-time ministry.
  4. God’s true preachers do not preach to make money, but to fulfill their calling and express their love for God.
  5. We can support missionaries by praying for them and by giving them our money, hospitality and time.
  6. Sin such as pride, jealousy and slander still exist in churches today. If we ignore it, it will continue to grow.
  7. A true Christian leader is a servant.
  8. Actively look for ways to show support to God’s workers. It may be in the form of a letter of encouragement, a gift, financial support, an open home or prayer.