Guilt and shame are very common emotions.
In fact, they often go hand in hand when your emotions are running wild; but it's important to understand they are not the same.
When you're guilty, a feeling of remorse arises after you believe you've done something wrong, like a criminal act.
There are four known types of guilt you can experience.
You may feel guilty about something that you didn't actually do but might have had a dream about it. For example, if you had a dream about having relations with another person other than your partner. The second type of guilt is something you think you did. For example, you wish your loud, noisy and obnoxious neighbors would be quiet, and a few days later they end up getting kicked out of your building. Third, you may experience guilt from not doing enough to help another person in need. Lastly, you may feel guilty for being better off than someone else.
How is shame defined?
Shame is a feeling that happens after you feel you've done something dishonorable or improper.
What can you do to prevent guilt and shame?
It's normal to feel guilt and shame, especially if you've done something to warrant either of these emotions. One of the best ways to help overcome these emotions is to recognize when you've done something wrong, make amends, and move on from the situation.
Can shame and guilt be useful under any circumstances?
Featured in the Wall Street Journal article, "Guilt Vs. Shame: One is Productive, The Other Isn't and How to Tell Them Apart," June P. Tangney, PhD, discusses the difference between guilt and shame.