People tend to dwell more on negative things than on good things. So the mind then becomes obsessed with negative things, with judgments, guilt and anxiety produced by thoughts about the future and so on.
– Eckhart Tolle
Shame is closely related to guilt, but there is a key qualitative difference. No audience is needed for feelings of guilt, no one else need know, for the guilty person is his own judge. Not so for shame. The humiliation of shame requires disapproval or ridicule by others. If no one ever learns of a misdeed there will be no shame, but there still might be guilt. Of course, there may be both. The distinction between shame and guilt is very important, since these two emotions may tear a person in opposite directions. The wish to relieve guilt may motivate a confession, but the wish to avoid the humiliation of shame may prevent it.
– Paul Ekman
The difference between guilt and shame is very clear – in theory. We feel guilty for what we do. We feel shame for what we are. A person feels guilt because he did something wrong. A person feels shame because he is something wrong. We may feel guilty because we lied to our mother. We may feel shame because we are not the person our mother wanted us to be.
– Lewis B. Smedes
Shame and guilt are noble emotions essential in the maintenance of civilized society, and vital for the development of some of the most refined and elegant qualities of human potential.
– Willard Gaylin
Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge.
– Audre Lorde
Guilt is the sum total of: All the negative feelings we have ever had about ourselves! Any form of self-hatred, self-rejection, feelings of worthlessness, sinfulness, inferiority, incompetence, failure, or emptiness. The feeling that there are things in us that are lacking or missing or incomplete.
– Kenneth Wapnick