Dealing with Guilt and Shame

Critical Mind Work ©subhan schenker 2011

Guilt is: I made a mistake.

Shame is: I AM a mistake.

Sanity is: That didn’t work. Now what…?

These three phases deal with the presence (or absence) of the critical mind or judge, and how that affects us.
The first is the critic beating up the child-like part of us inside for doing something that the critic brands as a “mistake.” The child believes the critic and accepts the fact that he or she has done something “wrong.” The guilt that this summons is that we are not worthy, lovable or competent because we have done something that a worthy, lovable, competent person would NOT do. This guilt hangs like a cloud, squeezing out any joy that might be there.
The second is the more intense feeling we call shame. The critic has not only told us that we’ve done something wrong, but that our very nature is wrong! The child within buys this judgment and feels that his very essence is wrong!
In neither of these is the critic challenged. Whatever the critic says is believed by the child.
So the problem then becomes “me” – as I identify with this child part of the mind.
A healing way of experiencing this internal dialogue between the critic and the child is to understand that the root of the problem is the critical mind and its judgments, not the child.
(One tool that can help us here is the Work of Byron Katie. Using her 4 Questions, we can challenge the Critic’s thoughts and begin to understand that its truth falls apart under


Once we understand that the critic is the issue, and we challenge the critic’s thoughts, then we can move into the third phase, which is devoid of criticism and is seen in the light of exactly what happened: I did something…it didn’t work…now what? No guilt. No shame. No anxiety or worry. And very importantly, no blame directed at the child! Then we can continue the adventure of experimenting in real time and discovering what works – and what doesn’t – without fear, shame or guilt!


Subhan regularly presents a workshop called “The 5 Steps to Freedom from the Inner Critic.” Here is a flier about the workshop. Check the scheduling by writing him at


STOP the inner Critic from controlling your life!

“I’d like to (fill in what you’d like to do), BUT (fill in the reasons why you don’t do it).
When this is NOT a sham (we really don’t want to do what we say we’d like to do), this sentence structure reveals a split in the mind: The LEFT is the part that wants to do it. The RIGHT has all kinds of logic, “shoulds” and “have tos” on its side to stop the LEFT side.
So what does this produce in us? Sadness? Resignation? A strong feeling of obligation or guilt? Depression? A feeling of hopelessness? And how much of our lives do we LIVE in this place because the right side (the Inner Critic) wins and we feel compelled to do what it says?
THIS is how the Inner Critic operates! This is what keeps us confined, infantile, contracted! There are ways out of this place – ways to effectively deal with and understand this controlling part of the mind.
Join us September 5 – 7 for “Freedom to Be Yourself: Transforming the Inner Critic into Inner Peace!” It is a weekend workshop at the World of Meditation Center in Seattle. For all the details, go to and STOP the inner Critic from controlling your life! (And save $100 with the amazing early bird offer!)