We often hear of “bad” and “good” shame and guilt. What’s the difference and how can we convert bad shame and guilt into good?
“Bad” shame and guilt.
Jeri was paralyzed and continued to beat herself up. She saw how she’d helped allow her daughter to grow up selfish, narcissistic and toxic. The shame and guilt kept her stuck, her self-bullying mind frantically racing with self-recriminations, too busy to seek a solution or to take any action.
Jeri had divorced her abusive husband when her daughter was 11. Even though she knew she had to get herself and her daughter away from him, she always felt guilty she hadn’t been able to change him. He’d grown up negative, angry and brutal, fighting against everyone he’d ever met. He wouldn’t change for Jeri or their daughter.
Unfortunately, he was allowed visitation, and he controlled and manipulated their daughter into thinking that Jeri was a selfish, bad person who’d destroyed their wonderful life together. Anytime their daughter didn’t get what she wanted, he encouraged her to rage against Jeri. Jeri tried to teach her daughter differently but she could never deny her daughter anything. She was too afraid her daughter would hate her and want to stay with her father.
By the time her daughter was 30, she was always needy and angry. She’d become critical, bullying and abusive to Jeri. Jeri realized she’d only given lectures to her daughter; she’d never had real consequences for bad behavior she would never have put up with from anyone else. She’d been too afraid to risk her daughter’s anger.
The “bad” part of Jeri’s shame and guilt was that she remained stuck. She flagellated herself by replaying episodes to show herself how she might have been a better parent but wasn’t. Her inner voice relentlessly told her she was too far from perfect. She didn’t deserve any better.
“Good” shame and guilt.
Eventually Jeri got so angry at herself, she broke free. She connected with the energy hidden under the shame and guilt; her fiery energy of strength, courage, power and determination. She vowed she’d think and feel and act the way she’d always wanted to against people who took advantage of her, just like her parents had.
Jeri transformed her guilt and shame into motivation. Never again!
She calmed herself down before she planned what to say and do with her daughter. She didn’t want to be explosive and say things she’d feel more ashamed of later.
When Jeri overcame her fears, which had begun in childhood and became worse with her husband and paralyzing with her daughter, she found more than enough determination to act, no matter what. As she began to act like the Jeri she’d always wanted to be, she became proud of herself
It’s not the feelings of guilt and shame themselves that are bad or good, it’s the use we make of them that matters. Jeri finally used her feelings to motivate herself to take effective action. She made those feelings into “good” guilt and shame. She wouldn’t allow a toxic daughter to pollute her life any more.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
- Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
- Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.