I’ve been meaning to write a little more about guilt versus shame (unworthiness). There is such a huuuge difference!
And it’s really important to know what that difference is because both guilt and shame manifest so differently in our lives!
If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you have probably heard me describe the difference between guilt and shame in a nutshell…
Guilt is an emotion you feel when you think to yourself “I did something bad.” It is what you feel when you think you have caused harm or suffering to someone else in some way (whether or not you actually have).
This is a normal feeling of remorse if you’ve made a mistake and can a lot of times be remedied by making amends or by vowing not to commit the same act in the future. (phew that was easy…)
Another type of guilt I see a lot is when you feel guilty because you feel you’re not doing enough for other people and you think that you should always do more. You are a professional “helper” and do things for everyone else around you and can never do enough. You may even say “yes” to things that cause overwhelm or burn you out because you feel guilty about saying “no.”
The important thing about this kind of guilt is to make sure you’re helping from a genuine place and not out of fear that you’ll feel guilty if you don’t. Helping from a place of guilt is not good self care and will only drain you further which defeats the purpose of helping in the first place.
You cannot serve from an empty vessel so fill yourself up first!!
Shame, on the other hand, is an emotion you feel when you think to yourself “I am bad.” This is a deep-rooted emotion that comes from a place of unworthiness or dishonor (and usually begins in childhood).
Shame can make you feel like you don’t deserve to be happy or to have good things or that you deserve abuse in some way and don’t deserve to be forgiven or loved.
Shame is insidious and can lead to unfulfilling and dis-empowering life decisions if left untreated. It can even lead you down the path of enduring more abuse which can be a vicious cycle (ask me how I know…)!
If you feel ashamed, you won’t believe you deserve to take care of yourself, limit or remove toxic relationships in your life, or that you have the right to set boundaries. You’ll feel that it’s okay that people abuse or manipulate you.
If you feel ashamed, unworthy, not good enough, or that you don’t deserve good things or kind treatment, I strongly strongly encourage you to begin to work through the journey of healing. Life is too short to feel shitty all the time and that’s no way to live. (Let me know if you need additional resources on this.)
The goal of being an assertive woman is to get to a feeling of strong self esteem, worthiness, and confidence in expressing how you feel and what you need.
An assertive woman believes she has the right to having her feelings heard, acknowledged, and respected.
She understands what her needs are and how to meet them for herself and kindly request others to meet them as well.
She realizes that it’s okay to set boundaries with others by verbally communicating in a calm and respectful way, free from aggression, passivity, or contempt.
These beliefs are the foundation to assertiveness and it’s harder to embody the communication skills of assertiveness when the roadblocks of guilt and shame are still present.
It is recommended to start building your assertiveness skills while also healing from shame and guilt becomes they complement each other and are almost one in the same. Once you start to believe you deserve to be treated well, the skills of speaking up and communicating clearly will come almost naturally.
You can also fake it til you make it if you need to(!), which can be a good strategy at first, but it will be like holding your breath until you get the guilt and shame to a manageable place.
Just remember, assertiveness comes from a place of worthiness and from a place of “I matter.”
So do you believe that you matter?