Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, reflects on the difference between guilt and shame in her book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy. Ms. Sandberg lost her beloved husband Dave unexpectedly at age 48. In her discussion about grief, she notices that we are often critical and judgmental of ourselves. (Sound familiar?)
Sandberg says that, "we all need self-compassion, which comes from recognizing that our imperfections come from being human....Self-compassion often coexists with remorse." She suggests looking at our actions instead of our character. Erma Bombeck said that "guilt is the gift that keeps on giving," and Sandberg says "Guilt keeps us striving to improve.
So, what will help us to use guilt as a signal for change, to use self-compassion for our human frailties, and to leave shame behind in this new year?
I highly recommend Sheryl Sandberg's Option B, as well as Linda Kavelin-Popov'sGraceful Endings, for all of us who are dealing with serious illness, grief and loss or who want to know what to say to those who are.