Shame

“True guilt means you feel badly for something you did wrong. As the other posters said, that can be healed through a good confession. Shame is the feeling that there is something inherently wrong with you, That kind of feeling may need counsel from a priest,
a Catholic or Christian psychologist/psychiatrist or healing from Jesus directly. No one is perfect but after sincerely confessing your sins you should not have the shameful feeling that you are a bad person. Chronic shame is counterproductive. God wants you to have joy.”

Someone posted the above in an thread. I am having two difficulties. Right now my life feels like it’s in shambles and I am recalling ever sin I have ever committed in my life both in recent times and when I was a kid. I feel like my sinful ways have caught up to me and although I have blessed many people along the way and been kind…my sin takes the center stage of my mind. When I go to confession I question if I am really sorry or is it only because of how I am feeling in my state of existence. I feel like I have been making great strides towards not repeating the same sins and being as just as possible in Jesus’ eyes. I guess my question is how do I know I am truly sorry for something? Also how do I rid myself of the shame that has attached itself to me from falling shortly of being perfect like Jesus and instead having been a sinful man in many ways and forms?

Hi, I am the poster you quoted above: I have a few thoughts to add, but I hope others will join in because there are people here in this forum with great insights.

First of all, the fact that you are concerned about your sins, shows you care. People who are not sorry for their sins don’t worry about offending God. According a priest I once knew, to be sorry for your sins means that if you had a chance to do it over again you would not commit that sin. It also means that you have a firm resolve to avoid the near occasions of sin and to not commit sin in the future.
We may feel guilt because of the sin but feelings come and go and are unreliable.

You are on a good path. You are working hard at avoiding sin and succeeding.
Sometimes Satan tempts us to despair. He accuses us of past forgiven sins so we will get discouraged and give up the spiritual life.
Many of the saints were great sinners who kept on trying to do God’s will and reached great heights. They knew that dwelling on their sins was counterproductive.
Trust in the mercy of God. Read St Faustina’s diary. Ask Mary to help you find peace. :innocent:

I could have written the same description of myself, not just because of my distant past, but also because of my recent past.

this is not meant to be technical, but I think shame is an emotion about wrong things we have done in the past. Shame can be useful to lead one to developing insights about himself and to reform one’s life.

I feel shame not only because of bad things I have done, but also, at times, for doing the right thing, even when it is unpopular. The unpopularity of doing good makes me feel ashamed, sometimes. A lot of people have been mad at me for doing what was actually the right thing for me to do. Sometimes when I have done the right thing, people who were doing the wrong thing get mad, because my action makes them look bad.

the gospel standard is repentance – to amend one’s life, with the assistance of confession. What can help offset the shame from doing something either good or bad, is the knowledge either that the thing was actually good or that we have repented, turned away, from what was bad. Another thing that helps to overcome shame is the knowledge that God wants us to confess and change, so that He can be our Savior.

Regret can be helpful. It helps us to realize when we made a mistake and be able to change and correct it for the future. Guilt is unhelpful. Guilt keeps us from moving forward.

You made a mistake(s). I’d ask you to learn to forgive yourself, and then LET IT GO! Know you’ve been forgiven, and stop second-guessing yourself. Focus on the present and future and not the past. Forgive yourself. If you dwell on the past, you probably haven’t forgiven yourself.

Good luck in your journey.

:twocents:

I find that few people know how to use the solution God gave us for sin, shame, guilt. We somehow have come to think that we have not been “fixed” by God and are still fumbling with our failures, or that we have not “fixed” ourselves so that we always do only the right things and do not do the wrong things.

When you were baptized, though you cannot “feel it”, you were given the Holy Spirit, with the Grace he gives by his presence. This is the solution God thought of, rather than a “fix”. This “gift” is the Virtues. These Virtues are dispositions that are beyond natural dispositions to virtue. (Faith, Hope, Charity).
You were not given “supernatural reason” but instead a “supernatural disposition” that you can use with reason. You were not given a “supernatural will to always will the right thing”, but you were given supernatural dispositions of Hope and Charity that you can use when willing things. You may have heard of “co-operating with Grace” - God gave us a solution we could work with him on.

So, begin making use of the Virtues, the dispositions, you have been given: How? Dispositions can be used in absolutely everything you do: “I am going to drive virtuously to work”, “I am going to treat my wife/husband virtuously when we talk now”, “I am going to do this housecleaning virtuously”, “I am going to take this shower virtuously/get ready for work virtuously”, etc. Everything can be done differently, virtuously, because you have this gift of Grace, Sanctifying Grace, that makes everything you do virtuous, which means you yourself now with this Grace are virtuous. It is not “automatic”, but it is intentional, yet you will find it quite delightful when you see yourself actually doing things virtuously and see your mind letting go of anxiousness or some other emotion that used to drive you.

Try it.
Using the gifts of the Spirit are where you will find that you are amazing, spiritual, virtuous, good, just like your Father in heaven is good. You will forget shames that you let go of in the confessional.
You will also find or come to understand that you are manifesting God’s Glory in the world, because the world will be seeing what God is like as they seeing you doing all things like Him.

You will also then find your prayer with God take on a new light - you will be talking with a “kindred Spirit” - A father’s child is like his father - so you will feel family when talking in prayer.

Smart advice, I would say.

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Thank you.very much, Marv. Welcome to the Catholic faith.

Leaving your nets behind is a lifetime journey. I can identify with your struggle in my own life. (if it would make you feel any better I’ve broken every commandment, and yes that does include the prohibition against murder).

The Christian life is not about how bad we are but how good Christ is. Christ’s gift of redemption overpowers our sin and wipes it away. It is an act of pride to cling to shame. In effect you are saying “my sin is more powwrful than your cross Jesus”.

Nonetheless, those bad feelings like shame and regret cling to us. They do not disappear overnight. Let me say that a good start in healing is to be grateful to God in all things. You are blessed to be convicted of your sin. Others continue in ignorance, not hearing God’s call to repentance.

Let’s be grateful to God for all he allows us. In everything:
"Thank you Lord Jesus.
When my sins disturb me
“Thank you Lord Jesus”
Even when I suffer with horrendous feelings of guilt, regret, and shame
“Thank you Lord Jesus”
When I lay awake at night confronting the torturers
“Thank you Lord Jesus”
When you call me to painful conversion
“Thank you Lord Jesus”
For the gift of your eternal love
“Thank you Lord Jesus”

In all these, the Lord Jesus Christ has triumphed for you and I. He is exactly who He says He is. He is the Lord of Life and his promises are 100% good. He is truth itself and when he says He desires to heal you, He means it and He will do it. He desires to heal you, but you must let Him. Can be very painful to let go, but He Himself knows your pain and has crushed it.

In all things
“Thank you Lord Jesus, your grace is sufficient for me”

John Martin has a very wise post. We have the power of grace to take control over our emotions. You can will it. You can transcend those feelings.

While some people may actually have some type of chemical imbalance, the devil is responsible for quite a multitude of our feelings of depression, shame, feeling worthless, feeling not good enough for God, etc. If you fall from grace especially that’s when the attacks go haywire. Thoughts, doubts, depression, and all other “craziness” seems to flood the mind.

Repentance isn’t conditional on feelings. It is a choice of the will regardless of how you feel. If you had zero emotions but went to confession, repented and are in a state of grace and are making a choice of the will to not sin again then you are following through with what is required. Even if you feel weak. Remember shame and depression are feelings only and the evil one loves to exalt those feelings. It’s quite tactical when you think about it. If you are in a state of grace that makes you more powerful than the devil because God Almighty is the source of your power. So since you are more powerful there’s not much of anything real he can do to you. But he can tempt you to sin and he can make you feel “dirty” like you have sinned and then the shame floods in.

If you sin in temptation then expect to either be blinded and feel almost nothing (no emotions) or expect to be flooded with thoughts, depression, shame, etc. Then even after confession don’t expect the feelings to leave that quickly.

So pray for grace and Will the feelings to be gone. Those feelings may very well be a cause from the devil. I have found the Rosary everyday and the St Michael Chaplet to help with that grace. It’s sounds so easy it can go over the head. But I’m speaking from experience and can testify to it. Of coarse maintaining control isn’t always easy and there may be failures to maintain control as we are weak humans battling against demonic creatures. It is a struggle every day to maintain control but it is possible.

If you are struggling to stay in a state of grace. If you feel like everything is about to fall apart any second. If you are so desolate and oppressed by satan you feel like you are going die. Well, I will say to you what the Holy Spirit said to me when I was re-converted to the faith… I looked to the sky, was so weak, so tired, so oppressed, wanted happiness and asked “When will this ever stop?” Right after that I felt a surge of strength. And I said to myself "WHEN I CHOOSE TOO!!! WHEN I CHOOSE TOO!!! I felt so strong. At the time I didn’t know it was the Holy Spirit. I had forgotten almost all of my Catholic education. But I knew I had to learn my faith if I was ever to be happy. Since then I have found the light and I’m never going back to the dark side.

So I tell you it is a choice of the will. Stomp satan’s peasant head into the ground and take back what is yours. For you are a child of God. And do not doubt the infinite Mercy of God.

Another thing that may help which is attributed to Justin Martyr. I have to paraphrase it since I cannot find the exact quote.

“The greatest gift God can give us is a trial or thorn, that that is beyond our natural ability to handle without his grace.”

In allowing us to be driven to our knees, he helps us to find him there.

As this is a quote from jaimeleglise and because it overlaps somewhat with my perception I’d like to say as follows.

My grandmother changed religion (from non Christian) in childhood then again when she married a foreign Catholic. She had physical and mental disabilities (albeit “undramatic”) so had been “on the shelf”. Due to her race she had to split the family due to a threat from a third country - proving to be real - and stay with a relative without her assets. She heroically battled against the possibility of the impact of all these “causes” of opprobium through no fault of her own on successive generations. Though I didn’t know her she is sky high in my esteem. On the other side of the family they also had economic issues, educational issues, several changes of religion and a broken family. By God’s colossal mercy both my late parents had terrifically good values. I have been bullied on occasion by the odd party for my own frailty and independence of mind (but have also received a great deal of kindness).

I feel bad about my (few) misdeeds. But meantime it’s taken 60 years to iron out the self-worth issues, due to spiritual affirmation by Catholic and Protestant friends - including a few clergy - a kind of “Gospel saturation”.

This history is probably completely different from yours but may shed light on a range of issues that jaimeleglise may have been trying to encompass, along with ones familiar to you, in his broad description.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this posting. I am beginning to realize that sometimes I felt guilt and shame for things out of my control. Sometimes I just don’t like making decisions that I know will not be the most appealing to others. For example, my mother bought me a very nice table as an early confirmation present. I am praying heavily on joining religious life and intend to start visiting monasteries this summer. I told her I might not be able to take such things to a monastery if I find a place to call home and am invited to come back to stay for a longer period of time. I thought it best that the desk be returned. I would come to find out that she would only be able to get a credit for the desk instead of cash back and that the delivery fee would not be refunded. I felt terrible and almost began to start feeling guilty about it. Then a little angry that my interest in religious life was not being taking seriously (she told me after that she did not know that I would not be able to take the desk if I entered such a community…I think I should be guilty about being angry with her…after all who was I to really know if she was not considering my interest in religious life or what that entailed or if she remembered). So ya…hears to praying on God helping me with not letting my emotions get the best of me and to remain in His peace.

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