hit counter



Home ] Sponsors Aides ] Sponsorship Topics ] Recovery Retreats ] Big Book Aides ] StepWork ] Spiritual Aides ] Prayers ] For The Slipper ] Tools ] Downloads ] Recovery Voices ] SlowGuns ] 12 Step History ] 12 Step Programs ] All The 12's ] Affirmations ] Poems ] Quizzes ] Sober Giggles ] Help ] Links ] Awards ] Resources ] Donations ] Contact Us ]

horizontal rule

 Below you will see an interesting article that I put together from old notes, research, dictionaries and life experience.  It has a lot to do with the difference between Guilt and Shame.  I believe it to be worth the read. A lot of us who grew up in abusive or dysfunctional homes have Guilt ridden spirits.  Weather the abuse is physical, mental, spiritual, or sexual, it tends give forth the same results.  With all this crazy stuff happening to us at a young age, be begin to feel as though it is our fault, therefore assume the guilt and shame.  Someone could blame me for something that I never did, and I would still assume the guilt because that is how my insides seemed to work.  Not quite fair is it?  Well, I learned in sobriety that I don't have to suffer all my life!  I can change the behaviors and the thought patterns little by little.  In the same, we have carried on this Guilt and Shame binding spirits to others that we love.  We need to become aware of those also and change those behaviors.  Listed below are some of the ways that we put guilt and shame on others. You have to see the cycle in order to break the cycle.   

 Most communication can be manipulating.  We, as individuals, have a choice to (a) manipulate honestly (by guilting), or (b) dishonestly (by shaming).





Evaluate/Judge Behavior

Evaluate/Judge Behavior



Tell & own my feelings about the behavior

Don't own or tell my feelings (label the person)



Purpose:  To change or reinforce Behavior

Purpose:  To punish, make you feel bad &


secondarily to change your behavior.



You are OK, affirms your right to do both

Attacks Uniqueness, you are not OK,

unique and different.

"Fatal Flaw" syndrome.



Guilt based family system:  Loving responsibility

Shame based family system:  Can't afford to

"I am willing to make space n my life for

acknowledge uniqueness, never feel safe.

you because you are important.




There is always a way back in.

There is no way back/Go away and hate yourself.



Always held responsible for your behavior,

Can't change your behavior:  Bad people do

I made a mistake and There's something

bad/evil things and there's nothing I can do

I can do about it.

about it.





 Guilt:  the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, esp. against moral or penal law or a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.

Shame: the painful feeling of having done or experienced something dishonorable, improper, foolish, etc.

    When we feel guilty, we have violated some internal standard of our own.  First thing to do is to make sure that they are OUR standards and not standards that have been forced upon us.  Did we consciously select our standards?  Or, did a certain religion, culture, family member or friend force them upon us.  If we realize that the standard is not one of our own, we are needlessly punishing ourselves.  If they are our standards, we need to take action to correct our wrong doing.  This is usually what guilt brings forth.  When corrective action is impossible, guilt is converted to shame. Rape, by definition, is a situation where corrective action is impossible.  Hence, rape victims are known to feel both guilt and shame.

     I identify shame as self degradation and feelings of worthlessness. Some have argued that the critical component of shame is public exposure of one's wrong doing or inadequacies.  Shamming a person wrongly, from one of my experience, was a family member telling everyone that I wet the bed at up to the age of 12.  There was no behavior there for me to change that I had not already tried.  Shamming me was not going to do anything but make me feel worse.  Shame is what prevents many people from speaking about what aisles them.  It causes us to turn in word and believe we are not good people or worthy of anything good.  Shame is an attack on the individual as a person ("I am a bad person because this happened to me...").  It is the feeling you get when you are sure that someone will think poorly of you because of something that happened.  Shame is longer lasting, and ultimately more dangerous than guilt.

 Guilt, on the other hand, is associated with a desire to apologize, make reparations, and be forgiven. In distinguishing guilt from shame, some define guilt as stemming from a focus on one's bad behavior, in contrast with shame's focus on the global self; others see guilt as private, a matter of one's conscience, and shame as public, a matter of one's reputation.

 Differences Between Anger and Rage: 





Related to guilt based stuff.

Related to Shame based Stuff.



Invites Contact - Creates Closeness

Purpose:  To control, to make you go away.



Angry WITH

Rageful AT (Dangerous!)





     What is the difference between anger and rage, and how do I know which I'm feeling?  Rage is the accumulation of angers, abuses, injustices, that have been stored in the body over and over again, and then finally erupts. Much like a pressure cooker, that finally heats up enough and blows.  It is usually psychologically, physically, or spiritually violent and abusive. All parties walk away feeling diminished, demeaned and demoralized. Anger is energy in the body. It’s no more negative than joy, sadness, or ecstasy. It is to be felt and experienced every time it comes up, just like joy. But because of the things we've been told about anger, we don't do that. The anger then stores up into rage.

     You can always tell when anger is expressed appropriately, because people will feel closer, relieved, and more connected. Very often they will even have more energy. The two are very, very different. The person walks away going, "Gosh, that isn't so bad, I'm glad you told me what you told me. I hear you." And both parties are energized. Rage is almost always depleting and debilitating.

 Most Chemically Dependent Families are Shame Based Systems.

A shame based person teaches shame to others.  To not acknowledge someone’s uniqueness means to not respect their boundaries, which is abuse.  All victims victimize others…not because they are bad people, but because they don’t know any better.

 Shame based parents are fearful and angry and cannot cope with their children’s uniqueness.  Kids soon begin to shame themselves for everything they do.  Shame breeds shame!!!

 Try answering the following questions:

1)      Ways I was shamed.

2)      Ways I shamed others.

 How NOT to Shame Myself and Others:

(Act As IF) 

  1. If communication gets messed up, STOP TALKING.  Look at what’s going on.  Ask myself: 
    1. What do I want?
    2. What am I asking for?
    3. Very important to say “I” instead of “YOU”. 
    4. Own my own feelings.
    5. Be respectful of people’s uniqueness.
  1. Remember:  You are OK.  I am OK.
  2. Go Slow.  It’s important to go slow.
  3. It’s important to take a break/truce if I’m not hearing you well.
  4. Whenever I catch myself feeling defensive, my shame has been hooked.  Look at what and why.  Repeat (to myself or out loud), what I think the other person is saying to me.  This may help for clarification.
  5. Examine my belief system.  It is not up to me to judge whether I am a good person or a bad person.
  6. Listen to the words the other person is saying, and not to what I think I’m gonna get.
  7. Shaming myself is not appropriate at any time.  However, don’t shame myself for shaming myself.
  8. Make contact with people.  I have a choice:
    1. I can get ashamed and go away (hide).
    2. I can get ashamed and be with somebody and the shame will go away.

 Getting out of your shame is hard work!  You will feel uncomfortable being successful at it.  For a time, you will probably find ways to punish yourself for not feeling shameful when you think you “Should” have.  That is normal.  Give yourself time to heal…and you will!!!

horizontal rule

Need More Sponsors Aides?  Click A Desired Topic Below:

 Sponsorship Steps ] My Rights ] The Victim Trap ] Sponsors Minute ] Encourage Others ] Emotional Relapse ] Emotional Sobriety ] Boundries/Limits ] When 2 Step Back ] Cannot Change ] Gratitude ] Going Through Steps ] The Flight Of Geese ] The One U Feed ] Just The Messenger ] ONE ] Bill W Sponsorship ] [ Guilt and Shame ] The 12 Rewards ] Reason Or Season ] My True Self ] Just Belonging ] Looking For More On 12 Step Programs ]

horizontal rule

This website is not intended to replace a sponsor, but rather to aide you and your sponsor in recovery.  This is just a way to start working the steps, and share in someone else's experience, strength and hope.  

horizontal rule

Click on the Email Picture above to email me.

This Website was last updated on:  June 16, 2008

Unofficial AA logo

    Disclaimer: This site is NOT endorsed nor sponsored by Alcoholics Anonymous or any group and is not intended to offer specific advice to persons in recovery or contemplating recovery. This site DOES, however, attempt to follow the 12 Traditions of AA. Contact your local Alcoholics Anonymous Intergroup Office for direct info on AA, for info on meetings in your area, and if you'd like to speak with someone regarding alcoholism. This site is produced in the spirit of AA's Twelfth Step - to carry the message. When reading the experience, strength and hope on this site, we remind you that AA's "public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films."