Immersed in the circumstances of the past, you are blind to hope and chained to thoughts of how things might have been.
If now is the time to move beyond the regrets of the past, please read on for an important distinction that may serve to free you.
Regret is feeling bad that something happened. Remorse is feeling bad that you did something wrong. Regret is about circumstances. Remorse is about integrity.
I regret my actions (circumstances required them). I feel remorse for my actions (because I compromised my integrity).
These are two very different things!
I regret that I had to leave you (This happens when you are in the military and are called to duty).
I feel remorse that I left you (It was wrong and shortsighted of me, as I had other options, but chose to be selfish and move away).
Regret requires accepting something. How can you adapt to these new circumstances?
Remorse requires correcting something.
Once you adapt to and accept a regretful circumstance, the regret has served its purpose and naturally dissipates.
If you are tortured with regret over time, however, one of two things is going on.
1. You are confused about regret.
Perhaps you believe that regret means you violated your integrity. Think this one through. Did you consciously do something that you consider morally wrong?
If not – and you realize this fully – then you are FREE. You have been judging yourself for something that you did not do or could not avoid. Realize that you are innocent, even though circumstances were not ideal.
2. You are hiding your remorse beneath a facade of regret.
You may have engaged in regret, depressed that your life is how it is, in order to avoid the deeper pain of remorse.
To get at the truth, ask yourself if you have consciously wronged someone. Be careful here. Utter honesty is the key. Quiet your mind. Put yourself in the other’s place. Have you done anything wrong?
If so, feel it. Accept it. Stop fooling yourself. This is the way toward emotional freedom and the restoration of your integrity. The way out of remorse is simple. Acknowledge what you did. Apologize. Discover what you can do to make amends. Once you have done this to the best of your ability, you will be able to move on.