Good Morning Friends!
Today we're talking about guilt and shame, but we're not just going to have a boring old discussion group. Instead, we will share a "healing from guilt and shame" activity.
If you read last week's post on thinking errors, it's going to be very similar.
We'll start with a couple ice breaker ideas and then we'll jump into processing these difficult emotions. As uncomfortable as it may be to talk with others about your guilt and shame - this activity always receives rave reviews!
Whether you're a counselor facilitating a group, individual session or someone seeking help to work on healing from personal guilt and shame, this activity is for everyone.
Let's start with a prayer
Dear Heavenly Father,
We know that it is not your will that any of us suffer with heavy burdens. In fact, you tell us to cast our cares on you. Today as we go through this activity - let that be the resounding focus of our hearts. As we talk about the guilt and shame that burden us, let us give it all to you, Lord. Thank you for loving and caring for us. We pray for anyone that is haunted by overwhelming emotions. We pray that you would heal them totally and completely.
It's in Jesus' name we pray.
Ice Breaker Ideas
Last week we talked about two of my favorite ice breakers.
If you missed it, you can check it out here.
Today I'll share two more ideas.
1. Switch Sides If
You'll need this handout from medium.com.
Next, you'll begin with asking all of the participants to line up on one side of the room.
You'll read from the handout and as the title suggests, if they agree with the statement, they'll walk to the other side of the room or "switch sides."
I like that this ice breaker allows participants to see what they have in common. It's also great that this activity takes it a step further with some of the prompts.
For Example, one of the prompts says, "Switch sides if you play an instrument." Once the people who play an instrument walk to the other side of the room, you then ask them to share which instrument. The cool thing is, you can do this with many of the prompts, not just the ones that they chose on the handout.
2. Compliment Ice Breaker
This one works best in a group of people that are not complete strangers. If you've read some of my previous posts, you'll know that I am a substance abuse counselor and I work primarily in a women's inpatient rehab.
This ice breaker works great in this setting, because these ladies live together for 30 days.
Instruct participants to compliment the person to their left, but there's a catch! It can't be anything to do with physical appearance. You can't tell them you like their shirt, they have pretty eyes or anything like that.
Some typical compliments are "you're funny or fun to be around," "I appreciate how kind and caring you are," "I love how you are always willing to help."
This ice breaker would work in an outpatient setting or family gathering.
Give it a try and then come back and let us know how it goes!
Healing from Guilt and Shame Activity
The Difference Between Guilt and Shame
Begin this activity with asking if anyone knows the difference between guilt and shame. Allow for some discussion about what it means to feel guilty or shameful.
Next, give this definition:
"Guilt is I've done something bad. Shame is I am bad."
Encourage participants to write that on their paper. If you have a marker board you could write it down as well.
With this new definition, encourage some further discussion.
Validate their responses.
Yes, there can be a healthy level of guilt associated with behaviors that we are not proud of. Guilt is a reminder of something we don't want to do again. We can utilize guilt to motivate us to make better choices in the future. With guilt, all of the focus is on our action.
It's not who we are, it's something we did.
Shame on the other hand can become our identity. When we've engaged in embarrassing behaviors so frequently that it becomes difficult to separate ourself from our behaviors.
But God tells us a different story. He says we are made in his image. He calls us his children. He asks us to repent and turn away from sin and he promises to forgive us.
Shame is not a burden that God wants us to carry around with us.
Encourage participants to think of the relationship they have with their own children or to imagine one, if they don't have kids.
Ask them if there is anything that their child could do that would make them stop loving them.
Of course not!
Are there times when we are unhappy with the choices our children make?
But we never stop loving them. In fact, we hope and pray that they will make better choices because we want what is best for them. We don't want to see them hurt, suffering, or struggling.
That is exactly how God feels about the choices we make. He wants more than anything for us to open his word, read the instructions he's given us for how to live and then to abide by them.
Not because he is controlling, but because in the same way that we want to protect our children - He wants to protect us - His children.
Time and time again we attempt to live life by our own rules, ignoring God's plan for our lives.
How hurtful is it when your children break your rules?
You give them consequences because you love them.
God does the same for us.
He Loves Us Enough To Correct Us
After you've had a good discussion about guilt and shame ask participants to take out a pen and paper.
Allow for 20 -30 minutes of quiet time. Encourage them to write everything they are guilty or shameful about. Ask them to be specific.
When the time is up, take everyone outside.
Remind them that whatever is said in group stays in group.
Then encourage them to read their papers out loud.
After they've read their paper ask them to repeat after you:
"These are things that I've done. This is not who I am.
I am a child of God!"
Then hand them the lighter and watch their guilt and shame burn to ash!
After each participant has shared. Gather everyone around to process their emotions.
This activity can be very difficult for some. Some participants may feel relieved right away, others may still feel burdened.
There will likely be some tears and they'll need to hear that that is okay.
Whatever they are feeling, just hear them out and be supportive.
End on a Positive
After everyone has had some time to share how they are feeling, circle up to close in prayer.
Thank God for offering to take our burdens! Pray for healing from difficult emotions. Pray for the ability to leave all of our guilt and shame behind us. Pray for wisdom and direction to make wise choices that are pleasing to him!
Empower them to run to God in any and all circumstances!
Jesus Christ is the only one that can truly heal us completely of our guilt and shame.
We hope you found today's activity helpful and we look forward to hearing about your experience. Come back and let us know if you try this exercise on your own or with a group.
We value your feedback!
Until Next Time,
Your Praying Friend
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Substance Abuse Counselor