Because of all that’s happening in the world and so many competing priorities, regret has become a frequent topic of conversation. Pay attention to yourself and those around you. You will no doubt notice expressions of regret—not having enough time for the most significant people, not achieving vocational goals, not being able to be your true self, and gaining weight.

While on the surface, all these regrets, disappointments, and embarrassments seem all the same, at the heart they are two very different beasts. Their names are guilt and shame. They are two complex emotions that often go hand in hand. While they may seem similar, they actually have different origins and can impact people in different ways.

Guilt and Shame

Guilt is typically associated with a specific action or behavior that a person has done or failed to do. It’s a feeling of remorse or regret for something that has happened in the past. Guilt can be productive in that it can motivate a person to make amends or take action to rectify the situation. It’s our guiding star to who we really want to be.

Shame, on the other hand, is often associated with a person’s identity or sense of self. It’s a feeling of worthlessness or inadequacy that comes from internalizing negative beliefs about ourselves. Shame can be incredibly damaging to our self-esteem and can lead to negative self-talk, self-doubt, and mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Guilt focuses on behaviors; shame fixates on the self. Guilt says, “I have made a mistake” or “I have failed”; shame says, “I am a mistake” and “I am a failure.” It’s also imperative to note that guilt and shame are not mutually exclusive – it’s possible to feel both emotions at the same time. However, by understanding the difference between the two and learning to cope with shame in a healthy way, we can work towards building ourselves up and developing a stronger sense of self-worth, self-acceptance, and resilience to shame.

Let’s look at a few strategies for coping with shame and dulling its power over us!

5 Strategies for Coping with Shame in a Healthy Way

#1. Recognize and challenge negative beliefs

As I said, shame often arises from negative beliefs about ourselves that have been internalized over time. To cope with shame, it’s critical to recognize these beliefs. Grab your shame by the collar, drag it to the surface, and examine what underlying issues and beliefs are attached to it. Now challenge them! This can involve questioning the evidence for these beliefs, considering alternative perspectives, and reframing negative self-talk in a more positive light.

#2. Practice self-compassion

Self-compassion involves treating ourselves with kindness and understanding, rather than harsh judgment and criticism. To practice self-compassion, it can be helpful to imagine how you would talk to a close friend who was struggling with similar feelings of shame or self-doubt. Try to extend the same kindness and understanding to yourself. You deserve just as much of your love as your loved ones.

#3. Shatter the silence

Shame can be isolating. It can force us to distance ourselves from those close to us and keep quiet about our insecurities, especially when everyone around us seems strong and confident. Remember that being able to talk about your weaknesses and analyze them is a sign of strength, not weakness. Connecting with others can help to break down feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy and remind us that no one is perfect. Try reaching out to friends or family members, joining a support group, or seeking the guidance of a mental health professional.

#4. Take positive action

Guilt can be a productive emotion in that it can motivate people to take action and try harder. Similarly, taking positive action can be an effective way of coping with shame. This might involve setting goals and working towards them, engaging in activities that bring a sense of accomplishment and purpose, or volunteering to help others.

#5. Cultivate gratitude

Cultivating gratitude involves focusing on the positive aspects of our lives and recognizing the good that is present. Try writing down three things you’re grateful for each day, or taking a few minutes each day to reflect on the positive aspects of your life. Appreciating what you have can help to counteract feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy that can arise from shame. But remember that perfection is unachievable, so don’t just try to find something perfect to be grateful for.

We are all susceptible to shame. However, recognizing shame and understanding the difference between guilt and shame is vital knowledge for coming out of the encounter with shame even stronger and building resilience to it. Let’s break the cycle of shame together by challenging our negative beliefs and accepting our mistakes and imperfections, while also recognizing that these do not define our worth. You are worthy of love, belonging, and connection, no matter your flaws.

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Written for Brainz Magazine. Read the original article here: