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Shame and Guilt

March 25th, 2014 by Hale Dwoskin

Do you sometimes give yourself disapproval and punish yourself for what you believe are your mistakes? Do you sometimes think it must be your fault even if others disagree? Do you sometimes think you must be wrong or bad?

Does this sound familiar? If you have ever felt like this, you are probably feeling share or guilt. You are not alone and there is real and lasting help in the form of The Sedona Method.

When you feel your shame and guilt acting up, or you can tell you are getting ready to punish yourself again, simply ask yourself the easy-to-learn and easy-to-remember questions that make up The Sedona Method, and you will feel the tightness leaving your stomach, shoulders and chest. In its place, you will feel warmth and relaxation. You will no longer feel tense.

Dealing with guilt and being free of your shame and guilt, you will feel more relaxed, and will be able to work on positive esteem building even in the very situations that you once felt you had to avoid. The noise of your mind will subside, and you will be able to accept yourself more as you are. You will have the clarity of mind to say and do what is appropriate and natural in any life situation.

Shame and guilt are tricky feelings that cause so much unnecessary suffering. Nearly identical in the way they work within us, shame and guilt generally form a single complex. But while it is possible to feel guilt without shame, we cannot feel shame without guilt. The way to distinguish them is this: Guilt is the feeling that follows a perceived wrongdoing: ‘I did wrong.’ Shame is the feeling that we, ourselves, are made ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ for what we perceive we did.

We believe the lie that guilt can protect us from being punished. In fact, guilt is an unconscious ‘I owe you’ for punishment. That’s right. When we feel guilty, we attract punishment from the world, and we also create it for ourselves. And here’s the kicker: We never feel as though we’ve been sufficiently punished.

How does self-punishment arise? First we do something (or think of doing something) that we believe we shouldn’t do, or that is wrong to do. Interestingly, we often feel guilty even when we haven’t followed through with an external action. Then, whether or not we’ll ‘get away with it’ in the eyes of the world, we remain aware of what we did or thought, and we won’t easily let ourselves off the hook.

Because we believe that punishment from the outside is inevitable, we punish ourselves in the false hope that this will enable us to prevent receiving it. But since we have no idea of what others, or even our own, sense of inner governance will determine is an appropriate degree of punishment, we invariably overdo it.