H doesn’t understand the definition of the word remorse and even though I have told him what it is, he still doesn’t seem to understand. So, with the help of some friends, here is what I gathered…..
Guilt is a common emotion but can create unhappiness and depression. There is an important difference between remorse and guilt. Guilt is an emotion experienced when you think the following ways: I have done something that I should not have done or failed to do something I should have done. My actions fall short of my moral standards, and violate my concept of fair, decent behavior. This “bad behavior”, proves I am a “bad person”. The idea of yourself as “bad” is central to guilt. Without it, your hurtful action may lead to a healthy feeling of remorse or regret, but not guilt.
Remorse comes from an undistorted awareness that you fully acted in a hurtful manner towards someone, in a way which violated your personal ethical standards. Remorse carries no implication that your actions prove you are inherently bad, evil or immoral. It can direct you to take steps to change that hurtful behavior. Guilt usually paralyzes you from positive action. Remorse or regret is aimed at the behavior that was done. Guilt is targeted towards your “self”.
Guilt fuels self-destructive attitudes. Remorse fuels constructive action. Recognize what guilt is, and the difference between it and remorse. The payoff is that you will feel better about yourself and life.
- Remorse is feeling bad about ones actions AND taking steps to heal any damage your actions caused another person AND healing yourself so you never take those actions again.
- Remorse is “I got caught, it was my choice to act that way, and I’m going to do all I can to fix what ever damage I caused, and never do this again”
- Remorse is signified by selfless behavior.
- Remorse is taking responsibility for one’s horrific actions. No blameshifting. No minimizing. No “forgetting.” No controlling the exchange of information.
- Remorse is empathy in the face of your pain.
- Remorse is seeing real pain at your pain. It’s connection. It is not control. It’s not arrogant.
- Remorse is humility.
- Remorse is sorrow.
- Remorse is open and willing.
The other key aspect is that one can experience remorse that is never seen by the person they hurt. If the way remorse is communicated is not in the language desired by the person whom they harmed, it will never be acknowledged. For example, buying someone whose Apology Language is Acts of Service a dozen roses will do little. But picking up needed groceries without being asked will go a long long way.
In conclusion, here’s a link to an article in the healing library on SI – Guilt vs Remorse.
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