Poetry and personal blog – Spilling my guts to strangers

What some people call guilt is really shame. As far as I’m concerned, shame is the perception that one is not enough–not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not creative enough, not productive enough, whatever. It’s a primal feeling of inadequacy; maybe it’s even preverbal.  While it has its roots in outside events and others may play on our shame to exert control, we perpetuate it in our own minds. Shame is useless and damaging.

Embarrassment is shame’s twin. I don’t think there is ever anything to be embarrassed about, particularly the everyday occurrences in life, the faux pas, the awkward moments, the trips, slips, burps, and farts.

But what about if you’ve wronged someone, you’ve stolen, lied, hurt, maimed?

Some would be embarrassed or ashamed to be caught in such activity. Yet they would live with with feelings as long as they are not found out. In this situation, what people should feel is guilt.

Real guilt is a necessary unpleasantness based on fact, not perception. Feeling guilty is the acknowledgment that you’ve deliberately caused someone harm. But instead of wallowing in guilt, the better way to deal with it is to rectify, learn, endeavor not do it again, take responsibility.

At least that’s what I think.

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2011

Comments on: "Shame, Embarrassment, Guilt: A Tricky Trio" (57)

  1. Excellent post Sweepy! Your perceptions are right on the money 🙂

  2. It would be wonderful if we could just do away with these 3 feeling, wouldn’t it?

  3. Another thought provoking post, Adriene. 🙂 My favorite part of the post are the words, take responsibility. I think taking responsibility promotes growth.

  4. May I live a life free of those feelings, well, except embarrassment…that keeps me humble. LOL

  5. I agree with your sentiments completely. Spot on.

  6. Great post. Right on the money.

  7. I have an intimate relationship with guilt, shame and embarrassment and I agree, you nailed it.

  8. I know Shame all too well.. It’s an evil monster that sneaks in and steals joy…..As always….XOXOXOXO

  9. I love your insight… You always make us think!! Thanks

  10. Excellent insights, indeed. I liked the nuanced ways you differentiated those feelings.

  11. All three go hand in hand… When guilt sets in … it triggers the shame and then the other… How well your words describe all 3!

  12. Hmm you make good points. I really never though it that way.

  13. You hit the nail on the head with this one…I truly agree…and Thanks a lot for this insightful post.

  14. I love how you distinguished the difference between shame and guilt – it is so important not to confuse the two! You described all these emotions we have felt at one time or another perfectly. So glad I stopped by today!


  15. Penelope J. said:

    I tend to feel embarrassed over something, then ashamed, and then I wonder why on earth I’m also feeling guilty. You’re right. Except that I call them the evil trio.

  16. Brave and honest blogger! I am glad to find your blog 🙂

  17. Oh Sweepy… I love this post. Shame.. It’s a tool of control and a tool to diminish… how beautiful would the world be if we let this go…

    Guilt… I appreciated your view point on this.. I am at a stage in my life where I am cleaning up some messes… apologizing when I have in the past held on to being right. You are speaking to me today! ;0) Thank you!

  18. Straight up serious posting. As we fart our way to existentialism, guilt is glitter, and essence precedes embarrassment, and I feel so guilty for stepping on a really good post.


  19. You are a wise woman. You have written about the difference between the three emotion so clearly.

  20. I agree with you. Actions speak louder than words. Instead of feeling guilty, we need to do something about it. A very true post!

  21. Anonymous said:

    My shame this morning was not being clever enough to bring two dog poo bags with me, my embarrassment was watching my only bag fly away in the breeze as I stooped to scoop, my guilt was noticing I was being watched by my neighbour as I skulked away

  22. I embraced Embarrassment, feel guilty when I shouldn’t and shame is something I’ve tossed to the pits …. I just wrote a story on Guilt…

  23. I feel guilty not being here sooner as well as embarrassment at not having anything intelligent to say.
    Now that is Shameful


  24. Good way to avoid guilt….don’t do the action in the first place.

    And I think you are right.

  25. Lousy companions, those three fellows! Thought provoking post, thanks, Adrienne!

  26. Tricky trio indeed! I agree that ‘guilt’ is more internal than the other two, especially when compared with ’embarrassment’ which is highly external, social. Great insights!

  27. You distinguish the two perfectly with your concise words, but oh how the mind lacks the ability to do this so effectively (or at least my mind). I often wish I was one of those people with clear logical minds that are able to segment their lives and only be in one place at a time. This would be a wonderful thing…

  28. I think your perceptions are right in the money. Guilt is such an icky feeling, and I think more people should let go of unnecessary guilt.

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