Regret, Remorse, Guilt, Shame and Self Forgiveness

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Most of us have done things we later regret. Perhaps we spoke to someone too harshly, or were unkind or unfriendly for no good cause. Or, perhaps we took something that did not belong to us, or coveted something that belonged to someone else. We may have spread gossip or rumours about another person. It could even be that we did serious harm to someone and we are now tortured by guilt and shame.

Usually when we do such things we try and convince ourselves that the other person deserved the harm that we did to them. We want to justify our wrong behaviour and are willing to believe anything we can find about the other person to make them “bad” or “wrong”. We do this even when in our heart-of-hearts we know that what we did was wrong. Sooner or later our natural sense of justice and fairness will assert itself and we feel guilty and ashamed for what we did.

Guilt and shame can be very useful in helping us get back on track and help us go in the right direction, as indicated by our inner moral compass. However, when excessive, guilt and shame can be counter-productive and cripple our capacity to lead a useful life.

When we do harm to others it usually means we got too caught up in our own needs and wants and our own perceptions. We become too self-absorbed and because of this we did harm to others. An excess of guilt and shame, can perpetuate the problem of being too self absorbed. This can cause us to be too focused on ourselves and too concerned with our own future and our own fate.

Guilt and shame are very helpful if they cause us to look to ways in which we can make amends for harm we have done and to avoid causing further harm in future. They are useful if they help us break out of being self-centred and overly concerned about ourselves. However, guilt and shame are not useful when they cause us to obsess about ourselves.

There comes a time when we need to awaken to the importance of forgiving ourselves. We need to become aware that when we forgive ourselves everyone around us benefits. Self-Forgiveness will naturally include an appropriate way of making amends to others, if that is possible and necessary. Self-Forgiveness will help us feel more kind and more considerate towards other people and less harsh and quick to judge, because facing our own fallibility makes us more tolerant of others.

When we live in a cloud of self-blame, self-judgement and self-disgust, one thing becomes very obvious. This is all about the “self”. This is a form of selfish behaviour. It is our duty to society to forgive ourselves, to make amends as best we can, and move on. Self-forgiveness is one of the most generous things you can do as everyone around you then benefits. They benefit from the warm heart and kindly mind that Self-Forgiveness helps to create in you.

By William Fergus Martin, Author: Forgiveness is Power.


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Four Steps to Forgiveness

A powerful way to freedom, happiness and success.

William Fergus Martin

ISBN: 978-1-63443-344-0