Disgrace is said to be one step above demise. At this level, the basic emotion one feels is humiliation. It’s not surprising that this level, being so close to death, is where many thoughts of self-destruction are found. Those who suffer from sexual assault are often found here, and without therapy they tend to stay here.
Deep, insalubrious disgrace is the internal feeling that we’re “dirty”, flawed as a individual, or not good enough. In a few individuals it can result in low self-regard. Individuals living with rudimentary shame might believe these feelings are normal, and might think others feel the same way. While these feelings might be quite common, they’re not the norm, and can block fulfilling our happiness.
Disgrace – Just a notch above demise. You’re probably mulling over suicide at this level. Either that or you’re a serial murderer. Consider this as self-directed hate.
Guilt – A notch above disgrace, but you still might be having thoughts of self-destruction. You consider yourself a sinner, not able to forgive yourself for past transgressions.
Like other human emotions we might perceive as “all bad”, there surely is a positive aspect of disgrace. In a positive setting, disgrace is the feeling message that let’s us recognize we aren’t acting inside our morals and values.
There are so many non-helpful messages we collect throughout our lives that may become internal, automatic messages. We may unconsciously (unwittingly) repeat these messages in our mind again and again. We generally collect, or formulate these non-helpful messages when we’re forming our self-image (how we see ourselves, and how we think others see us). The result of feeling this sort of disgrace is devastating and always painful.
Not too far from disgrace is the level of guilt. Once one is stuck in this level, beliefs of worthlessness and an inability to forgive oneself are most common.
Among the definitions of guilt, that have been proposed, are the following: Guilt is a message of disapproval from the conscience which says in effect, ‘you should be ashamed of yourself. Guilt is anger toward yourself. Guilt is “a bothered conscience. Everyone who’s thought very deeply on the matter agrees that guilt is a function of the conscience. Everybody has a conscience. It’s the conscience that differentiates the good from the bad. William Shakespeare wrote, my conscience hath a thousand several tongues and every tongue brings in a several tale and every tale condemns me for a villain.
But conscience doesn’t function in the same way for everyone. Some of the most atrocious crimes that have ever been perpetrated were executed by men who felt no remorse for their evil actions. Adolph Hitler’s final solution to the “Jewish problem” was the indiscriminate wiping out of men and women and children. There are absolutely no grounds that he ever felt any remorse or self doubt. It’s been alleged that Stalin was responsible for the death of twenty to thirty million individuals during his reign as Russia’s premier, but again there’s no evidence that there was any sorrow or feeling of wrong doing.
On the other hand a few individuals have such consciences that seem to work overtime. It’s not strange for somebody to call and say, “I owe you an apology.” More often than not, I wasn’t even aware of the supposed offense and it involved some sort of minor occurrence that I never gave afterthought. Yet the person who calls suffers from a pained conscience.
Clearly, a person must have an awareness of what he has done when they feel disgrace. But once you’ve recognized it and addressed it there’s no reason use guilt feelings as a tool to motivate yourself or other people to do right.
In order to effectively cope with guilt we must firstly know as best we can, what’s really right and what’s really wrong. Put differently we need to separate true guilt from false guilt and we need to wipe out as much of the moot or arguable guilt as we can from our system of values. We frequently hear individuals say “Let your conscience be your guide” and we react to that by stating “No, your conscience isn’t always correct.” But the fact of the matter is that you can’t live very effectively if you perpetually go against your conscience. So what’s needed is a willingness to let your conscience be molded and changed by what is right. To do that you’ve got to be a truth seeker. You’ve to be willing to change when the right ways conflict with old patterns of behavior and belief.