Forgive and Release: The Difference Between Regret and Remorse

A sure path to happiness is to forgive and release hurtful feelings.  It is not necessary to forgive and FORGET, but in most cases it is necessary to forgive and release the pain so you can regain your power and live with more smiles in your life.

Accept the pain, cherish the joys, resolve the regrets;

then can come the best of benedictions –

“If I had my life to live over, I’d do it all the same.”

Joan McIntosh

How one behaves when caught in a wrong tells much about their character and the worthiness of their apology.    While regret is amoral and concerned with good versus bad consequences, remorse has more to do with right versus wrong actions. While feelings of regret are often followed by strategizing how to not get caught next time, feelings of remorse are often caused by actions that constitute serious and painful errors of judgment which are often followed by powerful compulsions to fix the mistake(s) through personal change and sacrifice.

Regret has to do more with how the results affect us or even how others hold us accountable.  Those who repeatedly do wrong often look for ways to avoid the consequences of their actions.  Instead of owning up to their actions, they may blame others.  One appalling example from my past was when a boyfriend was caught in a lie.  He said I was only upset because I caught him.  Had I not caught him I would not be upset and we would not be having the heated discussion we were having.  To him the wrong action on his part was not the problem; I catching him in his lie was the problem.  In this situation the “fix” is being more careful and not getting caught next time.

Remorse is more (in a weird way) beneficial for relationships.  Remorse has more to do with right versus wrong actions.  There is more accountability and responsibility in the one who feels remorse.  There is a genuine sorrow in remorse.  Feelings of remorse are often caused by actions that constitute serious and painful errors of judgment which are often followed by powerful compulsions to fix the mistake(s) through personal change and sacrifice.  The person who did wrong wants to change and make amends.  A situation I heard of was when a husband had an affair.  He was not more concerned about how it was that he got caught, but how he would earn back the trust of his wife.  He knew he would need to do whatever it took to keep her love, even when her pain was great he knew he would have to allow her anger until she could release it and trust him again.

The two examples are similar, but the latter is easier to forgive and ultimately release.  The true remorse and compulsion to fix the mistake through personal change and sacrifice is a response that can be forgiven and released with time.  The first only continues to instill an environment of distrust and anger.  Neither are desired, but let’s face it we all error at times and how we handle our errors should have a direct impact on the forgiveness we receive.

This is also an example of who we should be allowing into our lives and who we need to set very clear boundaries with.  To those who feel regret instead of remorse, we should limit contact and set very clear boundaries.  This will keep us from getting into escalating bad situations with someone who does not accept responsibility and thinks only of themselves.  Those who feel remorse instead of regret can ultimately be trusted as long as that remorse leads to real and lasting positive change.  I think setting boundaries with those who feel genuine remorse may be a bit retaliatory, but to the remorseful one they know they will have to make amends and sacrifice.  To the one feeling true remorse they will prove the boundary is not necessary, but will respect it because it’s a part of the sacrifice until trust is restored.

Today’s SIMPLE SMILE IGNITER is to consider the source of your anger now or in past situations.  How have the theories in this post played out in your life?  Is it easier to forgive and release the negative feelings resulting from those who seem to feel regret or those who seem to feel remorse?  Or have you looked at apologies from this perspective before?  Let me know your thoughts.

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About Jodi Rosenberg

I am a life coach, corporate project manager, and generally happy person who has chosen to express myself through the written word with the intent of making life better for all of us.
This entry was posted in Forgive & Release, Social Connections, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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