Guilt is a useful emotion; one we don’t understand very well.
Normal and authentic guilt occurs when we inadvertently or deliberately violate a trust or hurt someone. You can identify and claim that you did something ‘bad.’
Shame arises from being part of a social system. It is a group-created tool for keeping members adhering to the group think, rules or codes of conduct. When your actions or behaviours don’t fit into your family's’, your religions’, or any group membership you hold, you will most likely feel shame. You haven’t committed any ‘crime,’ but you’ve violated rules you agreed to.
Guilt Becomes Toxic
When guilt becomes your default state, it is toxic.
You are in toxic guilt if you take on responsibilities that are not yours. You feel somehow responsible when things go bad for others who’ve made their own choices and decisions. If you are emotionally enmeshed with others, trying to manage their emotions and or feel overwhelmed by other people’s emotions and behaviours, you are suffering Toxic Guilt.
Shame Becomes Toxic
‘Regular’ shame lasts a few hours or even a few days.
Shame becomes toxic when it results in negative self-talk that stays with you. When your general, over-all belief about yourself is that you ARE bad. You will likely feel isolated, have low self-esteem, and your general outlook will be negative. Toxic shame comes from constantly being told or believing you’re not enough.
All Too Common Female Experience
Toxic guilt and toxic shame are hallmarks of female emotional neglect (Are You Emotionally Neglected?). Most of the women I see suffer the burden of toxic guilt and shame. Because we are raised to put others first and to ignore our own needs. Because we are taught that over-giving and over-caring are a badge of female honour. And we are constantly fed the message that we can and SHOULD be better!
If your guilt and shame are toxic, you will have great difficulty putting yourself first, taking care of your very real and necessary needs. You will very likely be emotionally and physically tired, if not completely burned out.
In my RECOVERY program you’re shown exactly how to extract yourself from regular guilt and shame AND permanently recover from Toxic Guilt and Toxic Shame, shifting into a permanent healthy emotional state.
Check out FEMALE EMOTIONAL NEGLECT RECOVERY HERE
Certified Martha Beck Life Coach
What Now Life Coaching