Shame and Guilt

It isn’t always easy to understand what guilt is. In fact, guilt and shame are often confused with each
other, though they’re distinct emotions. Guilt describes a sense of regret or responsibility that
relates to actions taken. People may feel guilt over things they actually did wrong, things they
believe were their fault, or things they had no responsibility for. Survivor’s guilt, for example, can
affect people who survived tragedies when many others died.
People tend to only feel guilty over actions they see as “bad” or “wrong.” A person who believes
they are entitled to a higher wage may steal a small amount of money from their boss without ever
feeling guilty. But a person who finds a wallet and keeps the money inside without making any effort
to find the owner may feel guilty for months or even years if they believe the “right” thing to do
would have been to turn in the wallet.
Some people experience chronic guilt, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy. This type of guilt
can lead to destructive actions instead of positive change. People might also manipulate others with
what’s known as a “guilt trip” by using a person’s guilty feelings as a tool to them to do what they