Shame, Guilt, Regret, Remorse And Contrition.
Regret is the unpleasant emotional response generally, sadness or unhappiness we have to an external event or circumstance.
It comes from a French word meaning to complain or lament.
You can have regrets about not being able to attend an event because of a prior commitment.
You can also regret an unfortunate happenstance, a bad stroke of luck or disappointing turn of events.
You can even have regrets for a situation that arises purely as a consequences of your own behaviour.
But in any case, the regret response is a purely amoral one.
That is feelings of regret have nothing to do with the perceived moral rightness or wrongness of anything.
Rather regret is only about the displeasure you feel about the circumstances itself and the negative impact it may have on you.
Remorse is very different from Regret.
Remorse is the experience of deep anguish over something you have done that has created a bad circumstances or caused injury to others whether that injury was intended or unintended.
The word comes from a Latin word meaning to bite with more force and refers the gnawing feeling or gnashing of teeth a person of conscience who knows he has done wrong might experience.
It is a moral response to a moral failure and as such it arises out of a sense of guilt.
By definition character impaired people have deficient or sometimes even absent consciences.
So Genuine Remorse is usually not in their vocabulary when they do things that hurt others.
They might have some regrets for the practical consequences of their actions but that is not at all the same as being remorseful.
And because they are predisposed to use their typical ways of coping, like, denying, lying, justifying and blaming to deal with situational stressors, while they might experience momentary regret over an adverse consequence of their behaviour.
They usually dig in their heels and become more determined than ever to have their way, primarily because they lack remorse.
That is precisely why they don’t seem to learn from experience.
They actually do learn and they learn a lot .
They just don’t learn the lessons we would like them to learn.
It is because of their lack of remorse that they don’t reassess their general approach to things.
Guilt is feeling bad about something you have done whereas Shame is feeling bad about who you are.
The popular wisdom for some time has been that guilt is both essential and often helpful to moral functioning.
Shame is to be avoided because it is counterproductive at best or outright toxic at worst.
Some people have extended the meaning of shame to include feelings of humiliation, embarrassment or disgrace.
But shame is not synonymous with any of these things and only recently have some researchers bucked the long popular trend by presenting evidence that some shame can indeed be good.
When we appraise ourselves as lacking in some way especially with respect to the integrity and solidity of our character, it can be an occasion for us to renew a commitment not just to do better but to be better.
Regret and Remorse weren’t enough to make them change either.
Rather it was only when they could no longer live with themselves and the kind of person they have allowed themselves to become that things finally turned around.
Shame saved them where Guilt, Regret, and Remorse all failed.
It prompted them to undertake the arduous task of forging a better character.
The groundbreaking research on the criminal mind pointed out that one of the major Cognitive Distortion or thinking errors that kept recidivist criminals on the antisocial path was believing themselves to be still a good person despite continuously and unhesitatingly violating the major rules and trampling the rights of others.
And while they might be momentarily embarrassed at being found out, these career criminals like the serial cheats, die hard swindlers and various other recalcitrant disturbed characters out there, can be best described the same way.
Shameless and Contrition which is a poorly understood concept despite how essential it is to repairing damage in relationships.
The Contrite Person feels crushed in spirit, crushed under the weight of their own moral deficiency.
And The Contrite Person recognises and accepts the work it might take to rebuild a sense of self he can live with.
Contrition is genuine by the actions a person takes.
The Contrite Individual.
• Doesn’t make excuses, minimise, justify or try to save face but humbly acknowledges his failures and shortcomings and sincerely strives to make amends.
• Makes genuine and sustained efforts to not only do better in the future but also to be a better person.
Contrition is much more than saying you are sorry or appearing sorrowful.
It is proving through your actions that you really are sorry and working hard not to find yourself feeling sorry for the exact same failure in the future.
A lot of times therapy has failed to be effective or gone awry in some way because A Therapist misinterpreted Regret for Remorse and equated Embarrassment with Shame or presumed Contrition to be present just because a person showed some signs of Unhappiness.
You always have to look for the clear signs that someone is not only genuinely sorry for what they have done but also sorry in a way that can prompt them to make changes in the future.
It is easy to say you are sorry and that you take responsibility for your actions but it is too difficult to actually accept the need for change and then display how seriously you have taken responsibility by working hard to make necessary changes.
Some disturbed characters claim that they have taken responsibility for their actions yet provided no behavioural evidence of a sincere desire to make amends or change their ways.