Remorse Is Complicated and Unhealthy

When I saw that remorse was the UU Lent word to think about today, I got a sinking feeling. There’s something I’m familiar with and that I’ve really had to grapple with a lot.

Remorse is a distressing emotion experienced by a person who regrets actions which they deem to be shameful, hurtful, or wrong. Remorse is closely allied to guilt and self-directed resentment.

The Wikipedia

The key here is that remorse has to do with something that a person deems to have been wrong, not that anyone else might necessarily view it that way. And the part about guilt and self-directed resentment sounds really, really familiar to me. I don’t know that remorse is something we should be cultivating for good mental health.

Way too much of my life, this was my internal monologue.

I know. I did some things in my twenties that really were unfair to people I loved, hurt them, and in retrospect, I see are very wrong, even though I couldn’t see it at the time in my immature and very confused mental state.

The remorse I felt after that led me down a path of further poor decisions, because I was so upset with myself that I felt I didn’t deserve to look for a happy life, a good job, or close friendships. I felt like I’d just let everyone down. And the poor self image my remorse led to absolutely ensured I’d lose friends, chase away partners, and treat myself unkindly. Ugh.

The Instagram of the day. I did love that poopy, butt-scooting pug.

It took a lot of work after my divorce from my children’s dad to learn to forgive myself of my mistakes and stop trying to make it all better for people I disappointed. I learned to move forward and learn how to deal with my hormones and childhood abandonment issues in a respectful, adult way (with the occasional totally human slip-up).

My dog forgives me, so should I.

If you are feeling bad about yourself, you can get to a new place, too. Therapy is your friend. So is Brene Brown.

Right now, I’m experiencing periodic remorse about what happened to my relationship with my older son. I’m not even sure if I did something awful or he’s embarrassed about something or what. I try to stick to sadness over the loss of a relationship to dear to me, rather than blaming myself or imagining hurtful things I might have done. It’s tough. Remorse is hard.

Spiderworts behind the Pope Residence say hello, and are happy, even after being mowed.

Enough brutal honesty for one day, right? I’d love to hear your thoughts. enjoy some flowers.

It’s a parasite, but it feels no remorse (Texas paintbrush). At the Hermits’ Rest.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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