“Shame is the emotional state we experience when we feel badly about who we are. Guilt is the emotional state we experience when we feel badly about what we’ve done.” (Dr George Simon, PhD) I propose that neither are really productive forms of transformation. Many people believe that feeling guilt and shame helps them to change, to repent, to do something different. In reality, shame and guilt have some of the lowest energetic vibrations on the spectrum of feeling. (This article addresses some interesting experiments done about vibrational energy.) Feeling or encouraging guilt and shame not only lower the vibration of our body’s energy, they often get stored there. Once negative energy gets stored somewhere in our bodies, because we believe it has a place there, it begins to cause problems for us physically, without us even realizing it. Those emotions can then cause us to beat ourselves up, over and over, never really invoking change but just keeping us in a lower vibration.
Perhaps a more productive and positive way to motivate ourselves to change is to feel regret or remorse. The important thing is not to stay in a regretful place, but to recognize that we may have made a wrong choice and let the sadness or sorrow about that choice motivate us to do something different. Once you are motivated to change, once you have chosen to do something different, allowing yourself to accept a new pattern of behavior, there is no need to keep feeling the remorse. Allow yourself to believe that you’ve changed and that you don’t have to go back to where you were. I like how Elder Richard Scott put it in his talk entitled “The Path to Peace and Joy:”
“To you who have sincerely repented yet continue to feel the burden of guilt, realize that to continue to suffer for sins when there has been proper repentance and forgiveness of the Lord is prompted by the master of deceit. Lucifer will encourage you to continue to relive the details of past mistakes, knowing that such thoughts can hamper your progress. Thus he attempts to tie strings to the mind and body so that he can manipulate you like a puppet to discourage personal achievement.
“I testify that Jesus Christ paid the price and will satisfy the demands of justice for all who are obedient to His teachings. Thus, full forgiveness is granted, and the distressing effects of sin need no longer persist in one’s life. Indeed, they cannot persist if one truly understands the meaning of Christ’s Atonement.
“When memory of past mistakes encroaches upon your mind, turn your thoughts to the Redeemer and to the miracle of forgiveness with the renewal that comes through Him. Your depression and suffering will be replaced by peace, joy, and gratitude for His love.”
No one belongs in a vibration of shame or guilt. I do not believe that God ever intended us to get stuck in those feelings, simply because they do not motivate us to change. They are not appropriate and they only cause us to feel bad about ourselves, and that is not a fun place to be. Let’s choose to change by feeling something else—something that will make us want to be better.