Shame is one of our most painful, powerful, and complex emotions. Unlike guilt, which is usually focused on a particular behavior or action, shame is an intense judgment of self. It instills feelings of being flawed and unworthy, and it is usually introduced to us through external criticism or ridicule for having done, expressed, or believed something considered socially inappropriate, unacceptable, or harmful. Shame motivates us to withdraw, hide, and disconnect from others, to mask crucial parts of ourselves, or to lash out aggressively in self-defense. We all carry the weight of shame, but it is possible to free ourselves from its immense burden and live fully into our whole being.

Shame: The Quintessential Emotion

After decades of obscurity-- confused with and overshadowed by guilt — shame is increasingly recognized as a powerful, painful and potentially dangerous emotion,- especially for those who don’t understand its origins or know how to manage it.

Where Toxic Shame Comes from and How to Work Through It

Shame typically comes up when you look inward with a critical eye and evaluate yourself harshly, often for things you have little control over.

Reaching Out for Compassion

At a weekend workshop I led, one of the participants, Marian, shared her story about the shame and guilt that had tortured her.

Your Brain on Guilt and Shame

Guilt and shame can lead to depression, anxiety, and paranoia, but they also nudge us to behave better. Research suggests that they serve an important, adaptive function important for human survival.

Why Shame and Guilt Are Functional for Mental Health

At the end of the day, guilt and shame are crucial social emotions, as they keep people from acting in pure self-interest.

Healing Your Shame and Guilt Through Self-Forgiveness

These four avenues can lead you toward self-forgiveness.

Confessions of a Kleptomaniac

I became a drug addict only years after I'd discovered my first true love: Compulsive thieving.

We Are Broken Together

“Even where I live in St. Paul, known nationally for being the ‘crossroads of recovery,’” William said, “the stigma prevents people from thinking about alcoholics and other drug addicts as ‘good people with a bad illness.’”

How to Talk About Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a mental health condition that affects as many as 1 in 7 moms. But despite how prevalent it is, there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding it. Moms may not want to share that they are struggling due to the guilt, shame, or fear that they are somehow a “bad” mom.